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Campaign Finance Disclosure FAQs

What is the Political Reform Act?

The Political Reform Act is an initiative passed by the voters in the 1974 Primary Election. One of the major provisions of the Act requires the disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures during elections. The governing statutes of The Political Reform Act are contained in Government Code Sections 81000 – 91014.

 


What is the Fair Political Practices Commission?

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is the independent, nonpartisan state agency authorized to implement, interpret, and enforce the provisions of the Political Reform Act. The Commission is comprised of a full-time chair appointed by the Governor and 4 part-time commissioners. The FPPC provides opinions and advice upon written request.

 


What is a Campaign Committee?

A “campaign committee” is any person(s) who directly or indirectly: Receives contributions totaling one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more in a calendar year; makes independent expenditures totaling one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more in a calendar year; or makes contributions totaling ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more in a calendar year or at the behest of candidates or committees.

 


How Do I Form a Campaign Committee to Support My Candidacy for Office?

Candidates must file the Candidate Intention Form 501 before raising or spending any money. The Form 410 must also be filed within 10 days of raising or spending $1,000. In addition, the Form 460 needs to be filed to disclose contributions and expenditures.

 


I am Running for Office and Plan to spend Less Than $100 in My Campaign. Do I Still Need to Complete Campaign Disclosure Paperwork?

Yes. If you spend any money, including personal funds, the Form 501 must be completed. If you raise or spend less than $1,000, you must file a Candidate Campaign Statement – Short Form (Form 470).

 


Where Can I Obtain Campaign Finance Forms?

Forms can be obtained from the Registrar of Voters' office, 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, CA 92705; downloaded from the Fair Political Practices Commission’s website, www.fppc.ca.gov; or if you would like a packet of forms mailed to you, call our office at 714-567-7558.

 


Do I Need to Open a Campaign Committee If I am Paying a Filing Fee?

No, not if the Filing Fee is paid with personal funds. However, you will need to file a Form 501 and a Form 470.

 


Do I Need to Open a Campaign Committee If I am Only Paying for a Candidate's Statement of Qualifications?

No, not if the Candidate’s Statement of Qualifications is paid with personal funds.

 


Are There any Requirements for Creating Committee Names?

Yes. Any committee that is controlled by a state or local candidate or officeholder must include the last name of the candidate, the office sought, and the year of the election in the name of the committee.

 


How Long Does It Take for the Secretary Of State to Assign a Committee ID?

This process takes 2 – 4 weeks.  It is best not to complete another Statement of Organization (Form 410), as this will create a duplicate committee, triggering duplication of the filing obligation.

 


Must I Wait Until I Have Raised $1,000 Before Filing the Statement of Organization (Form 410)?

No. The Secretary of State will issue you a Committee ID number upon receipt of the Form 410, even if you have not reached the $1,000 threshold.

 


Does Orange County Have a Campaign Contribution Limitation?

Yes. Orange County adopted the “TIN CUP” Ordinance in 1978. The TIN CUP Ordinance (an acronym for “Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics”) is the campaign reform finance ordinance that regulates campaign contribution limits and donations for county government’s elected officials and candidates.

 


What is the Contribution Limitation Established by the “Tin Cup” Ordinance?

As of March 7, 2013, the contribution limit is $2,100 per election cycle.

 


What is an Election Cycle?

An election cycle is the time period from the date that a contribution is first received by a candidate for a specific contest to the obligation for the candidate to file a semi-annual report for a primary election (June 30). If one of the candidates receives 50% plus one of the votes cast, the candidate is elected and the election cycle ends. If there is a run-off election resulting in the contest being on the ballot in the subsequent general election, there is a new election cycle that covers July 1 through December 31. After the run-off election, the next election cycle would start January 1 and would end four years later on June 30.

 


What Offices Must Adhere to the Tin Cup Ordinance?

The ordinance pertains to any “elected county officer”, including Supervisor, Sheriff-Coroner, District Attorney, Assessor, Treasurer-Tax Collector, County Clerk-Recorder, Auditor-Controller, Public Administrator, and Superintendent of Schools, whether appointed or elected. The members of the Orange County Board of Education are not included in the TIN CUP ordinance.

 


How Can I View the Campaign Disclosure Statements?

The statements are posted to the website of the Registrar of Voters with addresses and phone numbers redacted for privacy. You may access the statements here. The original unedited campaign statements are available at the Registrar of Voters' office from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Fridays, at 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, CA.

 


Can a Corporation Give a Contribution to Someone Whose Office is Covered by the Tin Cup Ordinance?

Yes. A corporation may contribute to a campaign committee, but they are subject to the same limitations as other contributors.

 


Is a Candidate Who Ran in a Primary Election Required to File Another Form 501 and Open a Separate Bank Account For the General (Run-Off) Election?

No. The Form 501 filed and bank account opened for the Primary Election covers both elections.

 


Am I Required to File Form 501 When I Seek Re-Election to the Same Office?

Yes. If you seek re-election to the same office, you are required to file an “initial” Form 501 prior to raising or spending any money for the new election.

 


When May I Begin To Solicit and Raise Funds for My Election?

You may solicit and receive funds as soon as you have placed the Form 501 in the mail to the appropriate filing entity.

 


Where Do I File My Form 501 If I am Running for State Office?

You must file your Form 501 with the Secretary of State’s office, Political Reform Division, 1500 – 11th Street, Room 495, Sacramento, CA 95814.

 


If I am Running for a Trustee Area Within a Community College District, Do I Need to Mention the Trustee Area on My Form 501?

Yes. Each office is considered a specific office; therefore, the trustee area should be indicated on all campaign disclosure statements.

 


Do I Need to Send My Form 501 to the Secretary Of State If I am Forming a Committee for a Local School Board?

No. You will file the Form 501 with your local filing official, which, in this case, is the Registrar of Voters’ office at 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, Ca 92705.

 


I Have Completed the Process to Become an Official Write-In Candidate. Do I Have any Reporting Obligations?

Yes. You have the same reporting obligations as any other candidate for the same office.

 


How Do I Change the Treasurer ID That is Listed on My Form 460?

You must file with the Secretary of State’s office an amended Form 410, indicating the changes to your committee.

 


What is the Difference Between Forms 460 and 470?

The Form 460 is used by candidate controlled committees and committees primarily formed to support or oppose a candidate or measure that raises or spends more than $1,000. The Form 470 is completed if less than $1,000 is received or spent.

 


When Do I Amend a Statement If It Contains an Error?

You can amend a Form 460 by filing only the pages that need to be amended. There is no deadline for filing an amendment.

 


I Noticed That My Opponent Has Not Yet Filed His Campaign Disclosure Statement for This Filing Period. How Soon is an Assessment Sent to Him?

Our office begins assessing a late filer within one week, and a specific written notice is then mailed to him/her. If he/she responds within the 10 days indicated in the notice, he/she will not be fined. If he/she does not file within that time frame, a fine will be assessed.

 


What Happens If I File a Form 470 and Then I Receive Over $1,000 in Contributions?

If after filing the Form 470, $1,000 or more is received or spent, the Statement of Organization (Form 410) and the Recipient Committee Campaign Statement (Form 460) must be filed. The Form 470 Supplemental may also be required. If this occurs during an election cycle, it is also necessary to notify the Secretary of State’s office, the Registrar of Voters’ office, and all of the other qualified candidates by overnight mail, fax or personal delivery within 48 hours of receiving or spending $1,000.

 


Where Can I View My Opponents' Campaign Disclosure Statements?

Campaign disclosure statements that are filed electronically are available for viewing here or by visiting the Registrar of Voters’ office, 1300 South Grand Avenue, Building C, Santa Ana, CA 92705.

 


My Treasurer is Out of Town for This Filing Period; Shall I Wait Until He/She Returns to File the Statement?

No. It is better to file a report that needs to be amended than to file a report after the due date.

 


If I am an Elected Member of a City Council But am Running for the State Assembly, Do I Need to File My Form 460 for My City Committee With Your Office?

Yes. You will file your campaign disclosure statements with the City, the Secretary of State, and the Registrar of Voters.

 


If a Candidate Spends His/Her Own Money and Does Not Want to be Paid Back, Does He/She Need to File a Form 501?

No, not if the total of all payments is less than $1,000.

 


I am an Officeholder With an Active Controlled Committee. May I Use the Funds in This Account for My Re-Election to the Same Office?

To use the funds for a future election to the same office, you will need to file a new Candidate Intention Statement, Form 501, and amend the Statement of Organization, Form 410.

 


I am an Officeholder With an Active Controlled Committee. How Do I Use the Funds for Election to a Different Office?

You must file a new Form 501, open a new campaign bank account, and file a new Form 410 for the future election.

 


How Can I Terminate My Committee?

If you have ceased receiving contributions or making expenditures, have no remaining campaign funds and have eliminated all debts, you can terminate your committee. You will use the Form 410 to terminate the committee by checking the termination box and reporting the committee’s identification and the date of termination. The date of termination is generally when all of the funds have been expended. Forms 450 or 460 must also be filed showing all funds have been expended and the committee has no cash-on-hand. Check the termination box on the cover sheet.

 


Is There a Deadline for Terminating a Committee?

No.

 


I Am Interested in Reviewing the Form 700 for Candidates. Where Will These Documents Be Filed?

The Form 700, Statement of Economic Interests, is filed by candidates (who are mandated to file the form) with the Registrar of Voters’ office during Candidate Filing. These forms are available to the public for review. At the close of Candidate Filing, the original form is then sent to the Fair Political Practices Commission; the Registrar of Voters’ office retains a copy. The Clerk of the Board is the filing officer for the annual reporting of Form 700 (periods not during Candidate Filing).

 


Which Candidates File the Form 700?

Candidates for State Constitutional office, Member of the State Senate, Member of the Assembly, Judge of the Superior Court, Board of Supervisors, District Attorney and County Treasurer must file a Form 700 with the Registrar of Voters’ office by the deadline for filing a Declaration of Candidacy.

 


I Want to See Past Campaign Disclosure Statements for the Orange County Board Supervisors. Are These Statements Still Available?

Yes. The Registrar of Voters must indefinitely retain a copy of campaign disclosure statements for County Supervisors.

 


Are There Campaign Contribution Limitations on School Board Candidates?

Generally, the answer to that question is “No”. However, specific schools may adopt their own “Ethics Standards” which do restrict campaign contribution limits. Since those limitations are imposed by the school districts, they are enforced by the school districts.

 


I am a Candidate for an Assembly District in the General Election. Is a Timely Postmark Sufficient for the 2nd Pre-Election Statement to be Considered on Time?

No. The second pre-election statement shall be filed by guaranteed overnight delivery service or by personal delivery. If the statement is overnighted on the due date, it is considered on time. If the report is faxed to our office by the deadline, the original must reach us within 24 hours to be considered on time.

 


What Reporting Period Does the Form 470 Cover?

Form 470 is filed once each calendar year and covers the entire year. When you file Form 470 covering the year of the election with your Declaration of Candidacy, or on or before the deadline for filing your first pre-election statement, you do not need to file any additional campaign disclosure statements as long as your total receipts or total expenditures do not exceed $999.99.

 


I am an Officeholder Who Does Not Have a Campaign Committee. What is the Deadline for Filing Form 470?

The Form 470 is due by July 31 of each year.

 


I am an Officeholder But I Closed My Campaign Committee in March of This Year. May I File the Form 470 for the Statement Due July 31?

No. Since you had a committee open during the calendar year, you must continue filing the Form 460 as an officeholder for the remainder of the calendar year. The Form 470 may be filed the next calendar year if you do not have, nor intend to have, a committee for that entire calendar year.