Table of Contents
- The Statement of Organization, Forming and Registering a Candidate Committee
- Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements
- Contributions And Other Receipts
- Recording and Reporting Contributions and Other Receipts
- Limitations on Contributions to Candidates
- Acceptable Contributions and Exemptions
- Prohibited Contributions
Anonymous ContributionsCash ContributionsCandidate Committee to Candidate CommitteeEarmarkingForeign NationalsContribution in the Name of AnotherCorporations, Joint Stock Companies, Labor Organizations, Domestic Dependent Sovereigns (Indian Tribes)Persons Holding a Casino Interest
- Returning Contributions
- Fund Raisers - See Appendix F
- Expenditures And Disbursements
- Prohibited Expenditures
- Dissolution of Committee - See Appendix W
- Transfer of Funds - See Appendix T
- Term Limited Candidates
Committees receive monies, goods and services from a variety of sources. Any items of value received by the committee are called receipts. The receipts are separated into two types by the MCFA; “contributions” and “other receipts”.
• “Contributions” are the monies, goods and services donated or loaned to the committee. Contributions of monies donated to the committee are called “direct” contributions. Contributions of goods and services donated to the committee are called “in-kind” contributions.
• “Other Receipts” are the monies received by the committee that are not contributions. Common examples include interest, refunds, rebates received by the committee and un-cashed or returned checks. A loan from a financial institution is also an “other receipt”.
TYPES OF CONTRIBUTIONS
Contribution of Money: A Committee may accept direct contributions of money from legal sources. Direct contributions of $20.01 or more must be on written instruments such as a check, money order or credit card. Direct contributions of $20.00 or less may be received in cash.
- Credit Card Contributions: A committee may receive contributions via credit card. The documentation requirement and the identifying information is the same as other contributions. The committee must collect and disclose the name of the contributor, address, date of the contribution and the amount. If the contribution is from an individual that gave over $100.00, the occupation and employer information is required to be collected and reported by the committee as well. An original signature from the contributor is not needed. The committee may set up an auxiliary account for purposes or receiving credit card contributions. This is considered a legitimate secondary depository. See (IS: 4/7/1978 Wyszynsk.) The committee must keep the records that substantiate the credit card contributions for 5 years.
In-kind Contribution: In-kind contributions are goods, services and facilities donated or loaned to the committee at no cost or at a discount. An in-kind contribution could be a donation of postage stamps, paying off a debt incurred by the committee or donating professional services to the committee. The value of an in-kind contribution is the fair market value of the goods or services or the usual rental charge of the facility. If the committee receives a discount unavailable to the general public, the value of the in-kind contribution is the amount discounted.
Loan as a Contribution: A committee may accept loans from legal sources. A loan is considered a contribution for the same amount as the loan. Therefore, a loan of $100.00 is a contribution of $100.00. A loan can be a loan of money or an in-kind contribution. A Loan Endorsement is an in-kind contribution to the committee in the amount of the endorsement.
RECORDING AND REPORTING RECEIPTS
The committee treasurer or designated record keeper must:
- Record and report all contributions received, regardless of amount, from individuals by the amount, date received, and the donor’s name and address. If single or cumulative contributions received from the same individual total $100.01 during the election cycle or more, the donor’s occupation, employer and principal place of business (address) must also be recorded and reported.
- Record and report all contributions received from groups, businesses, firms or any other types of organizations that are not registered as a committee under the Act by amount, date received and the contributing organization’s name and address. If an individual gave money toward the organization’s contribution, the amount the individual gave, the date the organization received the individual’s donation, and the individual’s name and address must be recorded and reported as a “memo itemization.” If an individual gave $100.01 or more toward the organization’s contribution, the individual’s occupation, employer and principal place of business (address) must also be recorded.
- Record and report all contributions received from Independent, Political and Political Party Committees registered under the Act by the amount, date received and the committee’s name and address.
- Record and report all “other receipts” by the amount, date received, and the name and address of the source. A short description of the “other receipt” must also be included.
- For specific information on how contributions and “other receipts” are reported, refer to the Campaign Statement Instructions and Forms booklet.
Prompt Deposit Required: The committee treasurer or agent must promptly deposit all monies received by the committee in the committee’s depository. The committee receives a contribution as soon as the committee treasurer or an agent designated by the treasurer receives it.
When a Written Instrument is Required: A contribution of $20.01 or more must be made on a written instrument such as a check or money order. The written instrument must show the name of the person making the contribution, date, amount and the name of the committee accepting the contribution. A committee may not accept contributions of $20.01 or more in cash. For contributions made by credit card, the committee needs to record the same information for each contribution as if the contribution were made by check or money order.
The Act establishes contribution limits for all elective candidates. The contribution limits are based on an “election cycle”.
- An election cycle begins on the day following a general election in which the office involved appears on the ballot and ends on the day of the next general election in which the office appears on the ballot.
- For a special election, the election cycle begins on the day the special election is scheduled or the date the office involved became vacant (whichever is earlier) and ends on the day of the special election.
Cash contributions, contributions made by a written instrument such as a check or money order, in-kind contributions of goods and services and loans from individuals all count toward the limitation.
The contribution limits chart lists the maximum amount individuals, Independent Committees, Political Committees and Political Party Committees may give to an elective candidate during the election cycle. IMPORTANT: For current contribution limits please see the Contribution Limits Page.
Loan as a Contribution: A committee may accept loans from individuals, Independent Committees, Political Committees, Political Party Committees and financial institutions. Loans, other than financial institution loans, are recorded as contributions and must be within the contribution limits. A loan received by a committee which is endorsed or guaranteed by a third party means the third party is liable for the amount loaned. Amounts repaid on a loan by the committee no longer count toward the contribution limit applicable to the lender or any person endorsing or guaranteeing the loan. A Candidate Committee is prohibited from making a loan to another Candidate Committee.
In-Kind Contributions: In-kind contributions are goods, services and facilities provided to the committee at no cost or at a discount. An in-kind contribution could be a donation of lumber to the committee, a person paying off a debt incurred by the committee or a person donating professional services to the committee.
- The value of an in-kind contribution is the fair market value of the goods or services or the usual rental charge of the facility. If the committee receives a discount unavailable to the general public, the value of the in-kind contribution is the amount discounted.
- A corporation, labor organization or domestic dependent sovereign may not make an in-kind contribution to a Candidate Committee, Political Committee, Independent Committee or Political Party Committee from treasury funds. Any contributions of funds, goods or services must be from the corporations, labor organization’s, or domestic dependent sovereign’s (Indian Tribe) separate segregated fund that is registered as an Independent or Political Committee.
Contributions from Out-of-State Groups: See Appendix K
If the Candidate Committee that received the contribution is a state-level or judicial committee, the group would file the Statement of Organization with the Bureau of Elections. If the contribution was made to a candidate for local office, the Statement of Organization would be filed with the appropriate County Clerk.
Contributions From Committees and Organizations: A person cannot give a contribution to another person with the understanding or agreement that the contribution will be passed on to a particular Candidate Committee. In view of this, an amount contributed to a candidate by an Independent Committee, Political Committee, Political Party Committee, group, business, firm or other type of organization does not count toward the contribution limit applicable to any person who may have given the funds involved to the contributing committee or organization. This remains true even if a contributing organization is required to supply the committee with information on individuals who gave funds that went toward the contribution.
Disposing of Debts from a Previous Election Cycle: Debts may be carried forward and paid in subsequent election cycles. Section 52(6) of the MCFA, MCL 169.252(6), sets out the requirements for paying debts from a previous election cycle with funds received in a current election cycle. There are two options provided in Section 52(6) for the payment of debt from a previous election cycle.
Option 1: Written designation from contributor is required.
A contribution received by a candidate committee is considered to be for the current election cycle unless designated by the contributor for a previous election cycle. A designated contribution applies only to the limit of the cycle so designated. A contributor can designate a contribution for a previous election cycle if:
- The designation is made in writing for a specific election cycle identified by the contributor by the date of the election or the year of the election.
- It can be substantiated that the contributor did not reach the contribution limit set for the candidate in the election cycle identified in the designation; and
- The designated contribution does not exceed the candidate committee’s outstanding debts from the election cycle identified in the designation.
Option 2: Written designation from contributor is not required.
A contribution received by a candidate committee is considered to be for the current election cycle and is applied to the contribution limit of the current election cycle. The debt is paid using the current cycle funds without a written designation up to the contribution limit of the current cycle. The contribution limit of the previous cycle is not considered in this option. Once the contribution limit is reached, additional contributions from the contributor can only be used to pay debts from a previous election cycle using option 1 above.
Committees are encouraged to resolve all debts promptly to avoid future filing requirements and potential violations.
Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Professional Limited Liability Company Contributions: Contributions can be received from partnerships, LLCs and PLLCs, but special conditions exist for reporting the contributions. For more information see Appendix O2
Bundled Contributions: “Bundling” is defined as the delivery of one (1) or more contributions from individuals to the Candidate Committee of a candidate for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Board of Education, University of Michigan Regent, Michigan State University Trustee, Wayne State University Governor or Supreme Court Justice, by an Independent or Political Committee (PAC) registered with the Secretary of State.
Contribution limits apply to bundled contributions. A PAC may give bundled contributions that are equal in amount to the contribution limit that they must adhere to if they were giving the committee a contribution directly. The bundled contribution limit is in addition to the contribution limit that the committee is allowed to give directly from the committee’s PAC account.
Candidate’s Contributions To Own Committee: Candidates may make unlimited contributions to their own committees. All contributions received from the candidate must be recorded, deposited and reported like all other contributions.
Loans: A candidate who wishes to loan his committee funds must report the funds given to the committee as a loan on a campaign statement. If the committee receives contributions from contributors in excess of the amount needed for expenditures and disposition of other debts and obligations, the candidate can receive repayment on a loan made to his or her Candidate Committee.
In-Kind Contributions and In-Kind Loans: A candidate can pay for campaign expenses directly out of his or her own pocket. Campaign purchases made by a candidate with personal funds are in-kind contributions of goods or services to the Candidate Committee. A candidate may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket campaign expenses (in-kind contributions) with committee funds. Reimbursements made by a Candidate Committee for out-of-pocket campaign expenses incurred by the candidate must be reported as detailed below.
In-Kind Contribution - Candidate Reimbursed During The Reporting Period:
- The goods and services purchased by the candidate are reported on the Itemized In-Kind Contributions Schedule 1-IK. The “Goods or Services Purchased by Candidate - Loan” box must be checked.
- The reimbursement is reported on the Itemized Expenditures Schedule 1B with the purpose shown as “reimbursement for in-kind contributions”. The purpose must note that the detail information is reported on the In-Kind Schedule.
In-Kind Loan - Candidate Repaid in a Subsequent Campaign Statement:
- The goods and services purchased by the candidate are reported on the Itemized In-Kind Contributions Schedule. Check the “Goods or Services Purchased by Candidate - Loan” box.
- The amount owed by the committee to the candidate at the close of the reporting period is reported on the Debts and Obligations Schedule 1E.
- The repayment is reported on the Itemized Expenditures Schedule 1B of the appropriate Campaign Statement. The purpose must note that the detail information is reported on the In-Kind Schedule.
Note: A candidate cannot be repaid for loans made to his or her Candidate Committee unless the transaction has been reported as a loan on the Campaign Statement that covers the period during which the transaction occurred.
Endorsements: An endorsement is not (in and of itself) a contribution under the MCFA. An organization such as a corporation, labor organization, domestic dependent sovereign or committee can endorse a candidate. However, the expense to communicate the endorsement may be considered a contribution to a candidate committee. Therefore, committees and organizations must be in compliance with the MCFA when making expenditures to communicate an endorsement. If the candidate committee alone makes expenditures to communicate the endorsement, no violation of the MCFA can occur.
Contribution Exemptions: An individual can assist a committee in a number of ways without the assistance counting as a contribution to the committee. For more information see Appendix O1
Immediate Family Exemption: A candidate and his or her immediate family members are exempt from the contribution limits except gubernatorial candidates receiving public funds. The Act’s definition of “immediate family” is a child residing in the candidate’s household, the candidate’s spouse, or an individual claimed by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse as a dependent for federal income tax purposes.
Prohibited Contributions - See Appendix O
Funds received by a committee which are returned to the contributor within 30 business days after their receipt are not viewed as a “contribution” under the Act.
- Funds that are returned to the contributor which have not been deposited in the committee’s account are not reported on the next Campaign Statement required of the committee.
- Funds deposited in a committee’s account that are subsequently returned to the contributor must be reported on the Campaign Statement covering the period during which the contribution was received and returned.
Fund Raisers - See Appendix F