To: Chairs, Treasurers, and Candidates
From: Jared DeMarinis
Director of Candidacy and Campaign Finance
Date: September 24, 2013
Re: Candidacy and Campaign Finance Legislative Update
Significant candidacy and campaign finance legislative changes occurred with the passage of House Bill 1499, Chapter 419 of the 2013 Legislative Session of the General Assembly. The Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2013 completely overhauls the reporting, disclosure and enforcement provisions of the law and changed the deadline to file as a candidate. HB 1499 was primarily based on the recommendations of the Commission to Study Campaign Finance Law. The Commission was created in 2010 and finalized their study and recommendations in December 2012.
Many of HB 1499’s provisions will become effective with the start of the next election cycle - January 1, 2015. However, some key reporting and enforcement provisions are applicable for the current election cycle and will become effective October 1, 2013. The following is a brief description of the October 1, 2013, changes. This office will send out another memorandum after the 2014 Gubernatorial Election regarding the changes effective January 1, 2015, in an effort to avoid confusion.
Candidate Filings: The deadline to file a certificate of candidacy or a declaration of intent has been changed for the 2014 election. The new deadline is Tuesday, February 25, 2014. The deadline to withdraw as candidate is Thursday, February 27, 2014.
Candidates required to file a declaration of intent must have established an authorized candidate campaign committee at the time of or prior to filing the declaration of intent.
Please note that the candidate filing deadline does affect other provisions in the law; notably, the filing of a financial disclosure statement. Any candidate (except for the US Congress or party central committee) that filed a certificate of candidacy during calendar year 2013 must complete and file an additional financial disclosure form in calendar year 2014 before February 27, 2014 (the new deadline to withdraw a candidacy) even if the candidate files a financial disclosure statement at the time of filing a certificate of candidacy in 2013. If the calendar year 2014 financial disclosure form is not timely filed, the candidate may be removed from the ballot.
Enforcement: The General Assembly greatly expanded the enforcement and investigative authority of the State Board of Elections (SBE). SBE may now impose civil penalties for the following enumerated violations:
For each violation, a fine up to $500 may be imposed. Unlike current late fees for failure to file, these fines shall be paid by the political committee. However, if the political committee has insufficient funds to pay the fine, the responsible officers of the political committee will be jointly and severally liable for the fine.
SBE receives numerous complaints regarding authority line violations by political committees. Please review the law and the Summary Guide, or go to our website at http://www.elections.state.md.us/summary_guide/sg_12.html#1 regarding the correct language needed and proper use of an authority line. Moreover, please review any social media accounts used by the political committee and the candidate to ensure compliance with the authority line regulations.
Campaign Finance Reporting: In addition to the 4 current election related campaign finance reports due (2 Pre-Primary, a Pre-General and a Post-General), all political committees participating in an election shall file a second Pre-General Report, which is due on the last Tuesday in August preceding a general election. For the 2014 Election, this report will be due on August 26, 2014. Moreover, for new political committees established between January-March 2014, a report is due April 15, 2014.
Therefore the Reporting Schedule for 2014 Gubernatorial Election is as follows:
Annual Report- Due 1/15/2014
Spring Report- Due 4/15/2014
Pre-Primary 1- Due 5/27/2014
Pre-Primary 2- Due 6/13/2014
Pre-General 1- Due 8/26/2014
Ballot Issue- Due 10/10/2014
Pre-General 2- Due 10/24/2014
Post-General- Due 11/25/2014
However, the above reporting schedule does not apply to central committee candidates. HB 1499 simplified the reporting schedule for central committee candidates to just one election-related campaign finance report due on July 15, 2014. Central committee candidates are no longer required to file any pre-primary or pre- or post-general reports. However, central committee candidates that file for candidacy in 2013 will still owe the 2014 Annual Report in addition to the July 15 report
Fundraising During Session: The prohibition regarding depositing funds into a political committee of a restricted candidate during legislative session was amended. If an electronic contribution was initiated prior to the start of session, only those funds may be deposited into the campaign account during session. No other changes were made to this section of the law.
New Political Committee: The legislation created a new type of political committee, a legislative party caucus committee. This committee’s purpose is to elect candidates to one of the two Houses of the General Assembly.
Along with central committees, legislative party caucus committees will have the ability to raise administrative funds. SBE has proposed regulations regarding the establishment of legislative party caucus committees and the permissible uses of administrative funds. (See September publication of Maryland Register for proposed regulations).
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MD Relay Service (800) 735-2258 http://www.elections.maryland.gov Annapolis, Maryland 21401