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Basic Requirements

North Carolina's Campaign Reporting Act applies to all candidates for public office, to all political party groups and to every person or group participating in activities that support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly defined candidates, or a political party or a referendum.

Contributions to candidates, political parties, or political action committees may be received from (1) known individuals from their personal funds, (2) registered political committees (which may only receive contributions from individuals from personal funds) and (3) from not-for-profit entities promoting social, educational, or political ideas and meeting other specific criteria.

Campaign, political party and other political and referendum committees must register at either the State Board of Elections or the county board of elections and file financial disclosure reports. Other entities must disclose contributions or independent expenditures in excess of $100.00 by filing a statement at the appropriate board of elections.

Candidate campaign and political party committees may certify that they do not intend to receive or expend more than $1,000.00 and be exempt from filing disclosure reports. Certifying under a $1,000.00 threshold indicates that the campaign or political party committee intends to receive or spend no more that $1,000.00. The certification is for an election cycle - the year(s) preceding the election year and the election year.

Independent expenditures - made without consultation or coordination with a candidate or the candidate's agent - to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates are permitted.

Independent expenditures by an individual or other entity not otherwise required to report them must disclose such expenditures in excess of one hundred dollars ($100.00). A statement showing the expenditure is filed at the appropriate board of elections in the form required by the State Board of Elections. The statement must identify donation of more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) to the filing entity if the donations were to further the independent expenditure.

The Act does not facilitate 'Pass the Hat' contributions because it specifically prohibits anonymous contributions and requires that any anonymous contributions and contributions made in the name of another received by a candidate or committee shall be forwarded to the State Board of Elections for deposit to the general fund of the State.

Each political advertisement placed in any "media" must bear a "legend" that states who paid for the ad and whether or not it is in support of or in opposition to a candidate or a ballot issue, and must be paid for by check.

Opposition print advertisements by a political party or political committee which identify a candidate that the party or committee is opposing must indicate in type no smaller than 12 point the name of the political party or political committee and the name of the candidates, if any, that are intended to benefit from the printed matter.

A media broadcasting or publishing advertisements must have a signed authorization for the advertisement that is available for public viewing during regular business hours. Each candidate, political committee or referendum committee must retain accounting records for 2 years after the election.

Committees continue to file reports according to the election schedule until all funds are disbursed, all loans repaid or reported forgiven, and the committee bank account closed, at which time a Final Report is filed. The designation "final" may be indicated on any scheduled report, or an additional report may be filed voluntarily.

Referendum committees receiving any contribution from a corporation, labor union, insurance company, business entity, or professional association may not make any contribution to another referendum committee, to a candidate, or to a political committee.

"Stand by Your Ad" places new requirements for TV and radio ads and if not met permits civil actions and monetary awards.

Prosecution and civil action are barred if the committee or entity complies with the opinion of the Executive Secretary-Director.

Reports Due

Each report shall be current within seven days prior to the date the report is due and shall list all contributions received and expenditures made which have not been previously reported.

Reports to be Verified by Oath. - Any statement required to be filed must be signed and certified as true and correct by the individual, media, candidate, treasurer or others required to file it. Each report shall be verified by the oath or affirmation of the filer before an officer authorized to administer oaths.

A first time candidate shall certify as true and correct to the best of his/her knowledge the original Organizational Report and appointment of treasurer filed for the candidate or the candidate's principal campaign committee. The Candidate Statement of Campaign Organization filed simultaneously with the Notice of Candidacy during filing period or when appointed replaces an Organizational Report for a candidate who has an ongoing campaign from a previous election.

Reports Must be Received Timely. - The report schedule in this manual is carefully prepared according to the current year calendar to meet the requirements of the law (G.S. §§ 163-278.7, 163-278.8, 163-278.9, 163-278.11). The published Campaign Reporting Schedule and the Notice of Report Due sent to the treasurer of record state the period to be covered in the report. The due date for each report is exact. To be timely, a report must be delivered to the Board of Elections on or before the due date or bear a U.S. Postmark of the due date or before. This is not a postal meter date, this is a postmark affixed at a Post Office. Civil Penalties. - Late filed reports are subject to civil penalties of $250 per calendar day with a maximum of $10,000 for a report that affects statewide elections, or $50 per calendar day with a maximum of $500 for a late report that affects nonstatewide elections. County and Municipal Boards of Elections have a responsibility to certify late filers and nonfilers to the State Board of Elections for penalty assessments and follow-up to obtain late reports.

Penalty assessments are sent by certified mail with return receipt requested by the State Board of Elections. A penalty assessment, that is not contested, is due when the notice of penalty assessment is received by the late filer.

Late filers, who have received a penalty assessment may petition, within 30 days, for a contested case under Article 3 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. An assessment that is contested is due at the conclusion of the administrative and judicial review of the assessment.

If a civil penalty assessment is not paid within 30 days after it is due, the law directs that the State Board of Elections must request the Attorney General to institute a civil action to recover the amount of the assessment. A civil action must be filed within three years of the date the assessment was due. The penalty for prosecuted violations is a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

The State Board of Elections may waive a late penalty if it determines there is reasonable cause.

Reports Due From State, District, and County Partisan Candidates, Political Parties, and PACs. - Except as provided by the threshold exemption in G.S. § 163-278.10A, the treasurers for candidates for state, district, or county offices, political parties, and political committees supporting or opposing these candidates in partisan elections, will file the following reports.

Organizational Report. - Consists of the statement of organization that appoints the treasurer, a report of all contributions and expenditures through the date of the filing, and due no later than the tenth day following the day the candidate files notice of candidacy or the tenth day following the organization of the political committee, whichever comes first.

Quarterly Reports. - During years in which there is an election for that candidate or in which the campaign committee is supporting a candidate, usually even-numbered years, the treasurer shall file a report no later than seven working days after the end of each calendar quarter. This report covers the prior calendar quarter, except that:

  1. The First Quarter Report shall extend through the seventeenth day before the primary. It is due seven days after that date. The Second Quarter Report shall not include the period included in the First Quarter Report; and

  2. The Third Quarter Report shall also cover the period in October through the seventeenth day before the election, and shall be due seven days after that date. The Fourth Quarter Report shall not include the period included in the Third Quarter Report.

Semi-Annual Reports. - In non-election years, if contributions are received or expenditures made, for which no reports are otherwise required, any and all such contributions and expenditures shall be reported by the last Friday in July, covering through the last day of June, and shall be reported by the last Friday in January, covering the period through the last day of December.

48-Hour Notices. - Political committees shall disclose, within 48 hours of receipt, a contribution or transfer of $1,000.00 or more received after the Third Quarter Plus Report through election day.

Reports Due From Municipal, Other Nonpartisan Candidates, and PACs. Except as provided by the threshold exemption in G.S. § 163-278.10A, the treasurers for candidates and other political committees participating in municipal and other nonpartisan elections will file the following reports.

Organizational Report. - Consisting of the statement of organization that appoints the treasurer, and a report of all contributions and expenditures through the filed date, and due no later than the tenth day following the day the candidate files notice of candidacy or the tenth day following the organization of the political committee, whichever comes first.

Municipal Type (1). Nonpartisan Plurality.

Pre-Election Report. - The treasurer shall file a report with the Board no later than the tenth day preceding the election.

Municipal Type (2). Partisan with Primary.

Pre-Primary Report. - The treasurer shall file a report with the Board no later than the tenth day preceding each primary election.

Pre-Election Report. - The treasurer shall file a report 10 days prior to the election, unless a second primary is held and the candidate appeared on the ballot in the second primary, in which case the report shall be filed 10 days before the second primary.

Municipal Type (3). Nonpartisan with Primary.

Pre-Primary Report. - The treasurer shall file a report 10 days prior to the primary if the candidate is in the primary or 10 days prior to the election, if the candidate is not in a primary.

Municipal Type (4). Nonpartisan with Runoff.

Pre-Election Report. - The treasurer shall file a report with the Board no later than 10 days prior to the election.

All Types of Municipal Elections. All registered campaign and other political committees continue to file reports as long as debts and loans are outstanding and funds remain in the bank account.

Annual Reports. - If contributions are received or expenditures made during a calendar year, for which no reports are otherwise required, any and all such contributions and expenditures shall be reported by the last Friday in January of the following year.

Final Reports. - A Final Report is voluntarily filed when all funds are disbursed, loans repaid or forgiven, and the committee bank account closed. Final Reports may be filed instead of a scheduled report, but should not be delayed until a scheduled report is due. According to the Act, the Final Report is due within ten days of actually closing the political committee.

Additional Reporting Required

Individuals and Special Not-for-Profit Entities Contributions and Independent Expenditures. - Independent expenditures are permissible provided the disbursement is not made in the names of others, anonymously or in cash. Individuals and other entities that are permitted to make contributions and independent expenditures, but are not otherwise required to report them, shall disclose each contribution or independent expenditure in excess of one hundred dollars ($100.00). The report is due to the appropriate board of elections within 30 days of the transaction or within 10 days of the pertinent elections, whichever is first.. with the appropriate board of elections. The filing entity must disclose each donation of more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) to the entity filing the report if the donation was made to further the reported contribution or independent expenditure. The report is due within 30 days after one hundred dollars ($100.00) is exceeded or 10 days before an election the contributions and expenditures affect, whichever occurs earlier.

Reports from Elected Officials. - All contributions to, and all payments from any "booster fund," "support fund," "unofficial office account" or any other similar source which are made or used in support of an individual's candidacy for elective office shall be reported as contributions and expenditures as required by the Act. The reports due in January and July of each year shall show the balance of each separate fund or account maintained on behalf of the elected office holder.

Reports of Materials That Name Candidates. - Disclosure of spending for material or advertisements broadcast or distributed to the general public that names candidates or prospective candidates is required unless:

  • § The material is solely informational and not intended to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, or
  • § It is by the owner of a newspaper, magazine, radio outlet, or television outlet, if that owner is not a candidate, political committee, or the parent entity of a political committee.

The report is due within 10 days after the aggregate expenditures have reached the $3,000.00 threshold set for candidate and political party committees, and provides for disclosing subsequent expenditures according to the schedule for the type of election. Any political committee or other entity, otherwise required to file reports shall include this type of expenditure on those reports.

Election Cycle

The election cycle means the period of time from January 1 after an election for an office through December 31 after the election for the next term of the same office. Where the term is applied in the context of several offices with different terms, 'election cycle' means the period from January 1 of an odd-numbered year through December 31 of the next even-numbered year.

Election Sum to Date

The election cycle must be determined in order to calculate the Election Sum To Date for itemizing receipts and disbursements on reports as mandated in G.S. § 163-278.11. Accumulation for reporting by individual contributor on receipts and by individual payee on disbursements must begin according to the election cycle for the reports filed throughout the cycle to be complete and provide the correct Election Sum to Date information required by the Act.

Contributions

Each contribution must be recorded and reported. A contribution is anything of value given to or received by a candidate, political party, or PAC. It includes contributions by cash, check, goods or services through sale of tickets or admission prices to campaign events such as rallies or dinners, wearing apparel, etc. Contributions derived from fund-raising events should be listed including all information as required by in G.S. §163-278.8(d).

The committee must know the name and complete mailing address for each contribution even though disclosure of the name and address is not required for a North Carolina resident donor unless the individual contribution is more than $100.00 or until the contributor's sum-to-date contributions for the election cycle are in excess of $100.00. Contributions received without the contributor's name and address are considered anonymous. Over $100.00 contributions must be listed separately with the sum-to-date total for each individual, and may not be included in aggregate entries for fund-raising events, or unitemized totals.

All contributions must originate from individuals from their personal funds except those from special not-for-profit entities permitted to contribute. Contributions received from the treasury of a for-profit business entity, a labor union, professional association or insurance company or drawn on a business account are prohibited pursuant to G.S. §163-278.19(a). The treasurer should immediately return any check received from a prohibited donor. In the event an individual provides a signed written statement that the contribution is from personal funds held in a business account, the statement may be retained and the contribution considered and reported as personal.

Additionally, anonymous contributions, cash contributions in excess of $100.00, joint contributions, or contributions in the name of another may not be accepted. The treasurer must determine and report the individual contribution of each person for a check drawn on a joint account.

'In-kind' contributions (i.e. goods and services provided) are considered as any other contributions and add toward the maximum contribution. The recipient should report 'in-kind' contributions on both the Itemized Receipts and Itemized Disbursements with an identifying notation. Volunteer services are not considered to be 'in-kind' contributions.

During a Legislative Session, fund-raising limits are in effect. 'Limited contributors' may not contribute to 'limited contributees,' which means registered lobbyists, or political committees that employ a registered lobbyist, or whose parent entity employs a registered lobbyist, may not contribute to members and candidates for the Council of State, General Assembly, or a political committee to assist these individuals, while the General Assembly is in long or short session. They may, however, make contributions when the General assembly is not in regular session.

Information About Contributors

G.S. § 163-278.11(a)(1) requires additional information about contributors. It requires the listing of a donor's job title or profession and employer's name or employer's specific field of business applies to all reports due on or after February 1, 1998.

Profession or Job Title

administrator engineer lobbyist optometrist realtor
business owner homemaker office manager plant manager retired
consultant insurance agent office clerk president sales
dentist lawyer ophthalmologist radiologist teacher

Unemployed is also possible. Self-employed is not acceptable.

Major Business Categories

The contributor's principal occupation is deemed as the contributor's employer's name or the employer's specific field of business. The following classifications are examples of an employer's major business.

agriculture communication construction education
finance government health care insurance
manufacturing nonprofit real estate retail
services transportation utilities wholesale

Main Product Identified

The major business associated with a main product or identifier completes the specific field. Some examples:

agriculture

crops
hogs
poultry

retail

clothes
restaurant
florist

construction

homes
industrial
materials

finance

firm
bank
mortgage

manufacturing

textiles
furniture
rubber

education

teaching
administration
research

utilities

power
telephone
water

services

advertising
law firm
entertainment/sports

health care

hospital
chiropractic clinic
doctor's office

transportation

trucking
railroad
freight

government

public safety
administration
elected office

nonprofit

political
religious
social

insurance

company
agency
claims office

wholesale

food
appliances
materials

real estate

residential
commercial
management

communications

newspaper
radio
television

Political committees are required to report each contribution received. Contributions in excess of $100, including cumulative contributions for the election cycle, are considered itemizable and require listing the contributor's name, complete mailing address, principal occupation, the amount, and the sum to date this election cycle.

Anonymous contributions are to be paid over to the State Board of Elections for deposit to the general fund of the State. Contributions received without file contributor's complete name and mailing address that remain incomplete for forty-five (45) days are considered anonymous and are to be paid over to the State Board of Elections.

Campaign Reporting "Best Efforts" Rule

The committee shall be in compliance if the following efforts have been made to secure the contributor's principal occupation have been made.

1. Committee solicitations both request information and make a statement.
All committee written solicitations must include a clear, conspicuous request for the contributor's full name, complete mailing address, occupation, and name of employer. The following statement must be included on each written solicitation: "NC law requires political committees to report the name, mailing address; job title or profession and name of employer or employer's specific field for each individual whose contributions aggregate is in excess of $100 in an election cycle."

2. Written or documented oral request within 30 days.
At least one effort has been made after the receipt of a contribution to obtain the missing information. The effort shall be either a written request sent to the contributor or an oral request to the contributor documented in writing. Written or oral requests must be made no later than 30 days after receipt of the contribution. The request shall not include material on any other subject or any additional solicitation, except it may include language solely thanking the contributor for the contribution. If the request is written, it shall be accompanied by a preaddressed return post card or envelope for response material

3. Committee records have been searched for contributor information.
The committee has reported all contributor information not provided by the contributor, but in the committee's possession regarding contributor identifications, including information in the committee's contributor records, fundraising records and previously filed reports in the same election cycle.

4. Amendment updating information is filed by next report due date.
The committee has forwarded an amendment listing all contributions for which contributor identifications have been received during the reporting period covered by the next regularly scheduled report together with the dates and amounts of the contribution(s) and an indication of the previous report(s) to which the memo relates; or files on or before its next regularly scheduled reporting date, amendments to the report(s) originally disclosing the contribution(s) which include the contributor identifications together with the dates and amounts of the contribution(s).

5. Final Amendment at end of election cycle; 'unable to obtain' acceptable.
Amendments must be filed for all reports that cover the election cycle in which the contribution was received and that disclose itemizable contributions from the same contributor. However, political committees are not required to file amendments to reports covering previous election cycles. If after complying with items 1-4 above, the occupation of the contributor is not known, it shall suffice to report 'unable to obtain' on the amendment filed at the time of the final regularly scheduled report for the election cycle.

Copyright © 2012
Cumberland County, NC.
All Rights Reserved.
County Courthouse
117 Dick Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301