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
Candidates seeking state, judicial, county, city, township, village,certain school offices and other publically elected candidates in Michigan must meet the disclosure obligations provided under Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act (MCFA). This is true even if he or she uses personal funds to campaign; does not receive or spend any funds when seeking office; or is running a write-in campaign.
An individual becomes a candidate under the MCFA as soon as he or she:
- files a fee, Affidavit of Incumbency or nominating petition for an elective office; OR
- is nominated as a candidate for elective office by a political party convention or caucus and certified to the appropriate filing official; OR
- receives a contribution or makes an expenditure in an attempt to be nominated or elected to office; OR
- gives consent to someone else to receive a contribution or make an expenditure in an attempt to be nominated or elected to office.
- DATE COMMITTEE FORMED Once a candidate has met one of the conditions above, the committee must be formed within ten (10) calendar days. Once formed, the committee has ten (10) additional calendar days to file the Statement of Organization with the filing official. Formation is establishing the information needed to complete the Statement of Organization. The most important elements of formation include selecting a committee treasurer and a committee depository.
Withdrawn Candidate: Section 20 of the MCFA provides that an individual is not a candidate if the individual 1) filed a fee, affidavit of incumbency, or nominating petition for an elective office, withdraws within the time limit established by law and 2) if the individual has not received a contribution, made an expenditure, or given consent for another person to receive a contribution or make an expenditure to secure the individual’s nomination or election to an elective office. Payment of a filing fee for elective office is not an expenditure in this situation.
Recall Candidate: An officeholder who is the subject of a recall vote is a candidate. A person who is the subject of a recall may make expenditures from his or her Candidate Committee to oppose the recall. See Appendix P for more information concerning recall elections.
Appointed Officeholder: An individual appointed to an elective office is not a candidate under the MCFA until he or she meets the above definition or is the subject of a recall election. For the purposes of the MCFA, an elected officeholder is considered to be a candidate for reelection to that same office unless the officeholder is constitutionally or legally barred from seeking reelection or fails to file for reelection to that office by the applicable filing deadline.
Write-in Candidate: An individual nominated at a primary through write-in votes that has not received or spent any funds in order to be elected becomes a candidate five days after the Board of Canvassers certifies the nomination.
An individual elected to office at an election through write-in votes that has not received or spent any funds in order to be elected becomes a candidate on the date the election is certified.
An individual who receives a contribution, makes an expenditure, or gives consent for another person to receive a contribution or make an expenditure for the purpose of seeking write-in votes at an election is a candidate as soon as he or she receives the contribution or makes the expenditure or gives consent to the other person to receive the contribution or make the expenditure.
Testing the Waters: There is no provision in the Michigan Election Law or MCFA for “testing the waters.” A person who spends or receives money to “test the waters” for a Michigan elective office becomes a candidate as soon as he or she spends or receives money or authorizes any one else to spend or receive money to further the candidate nomination or election.
Term-Limited Candidate: An officeholder who is term-limited is no longer a candidate for that office and therefore can no longer make campaign related expenditures from his or her Candidate Committee account for that office. Additional information on term-limited candidates is provided later in this document.
Federal Candidates: Candidates running for federal office are subject to federal campaign finance disclosure laws and not required to file under the MCFA. Information on the federal campaign finance disclosure laws can be obtained from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Contact information for the FEC can be found in Appendix Z.
An individual who becomes a candidate is required to form a Candidate Committee. “Candidate Committee” means the committee designated in a candidate’s filed Statement of Organization. A Candidate Committee is under the control and direction of the candidate named in the Statement of Organization. A candidate may only have one committee for each office sought.
As soon as a person becomes a “candidate” under Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act, he or she has:
- Up to Ten (10) calendar days to form a Candidate Committee.
After the committee is formed, the candidate has:
- Ten (10) additional calendar days from its formation date to register the committee.
Please note that a group of candidates cannot run their campaigns out of a single candidate committee or PAC. This is often referred to as running as a slate. The MCFA requires that each candidate must have his/her own candidate committee which cannot be used to make contributions to or expenditures on behalf of another candidate. Candidate Committees may have joint fund raising events or make joint expenditures. See Appendix F. for more information.
REGISTERING THE COMMITTEE
A candidate covered by the MCFA registers the committee by filing a Statement of Organization form. Statement of Organization forms can be obtained from the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections in Lansing, any County Clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s website www.michigan.gov/campaignfinance.
Offices that file with the County Clerk’s Office:
- County, City, Township, Village, Public School Board and Community College Board.
- A local candidate whose district crosses county boundaries must register with the Clerk of the County where the greatest number of eligible voters reside.
Offices that file with the Michigan Department Of State’s Bureau Of Elections:
- Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Senate, State Representative, State Board of Education, University of Michigan Regent, Michigan State University Trustee, Wayne State University Governor, Michigan Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Circuit Court, District Court, Probate Court and Municipal Court.
Precinct Delegate: A candidate who seeks a precinct delegate position is not subject to the filing requirements of the Campaign Finance Act. As a consequence, candidates for precinct delegate positions are not required to file a Statement of Organization or Campaign Statements.
- the school district in which the office is being sought has a pupil membership count of 2,400 or less; and
- the Candidate Committee of that candidate receives or spends $1,000.00 or less for the election.
The candidate must still include proper identification on printed and broadcast materials related to the election as required by the MCFA, and may not accept contributions from any prohibited source such as corporations, labor unions, domestic dependent sovereign, Indian tribes, persons holding a 1% or greater interest in a Detroit casino, public bodies or Ballot Question Committees.
If the candidate spends or receives more than $1,000.00, or if the pupil count exceeds 2,400 on the most recent pupil count day, the candidate must file a Statement of Organization and meet the filing requirements of the MCFA.
A candidate who determines that he or she is required to file under the Campaign Finance Act should contact the county clerk immediately for filing information and forms. A candidate whose school district crosses county boundaries should contact the Clerk of the County in which the greatest number of voters eligible to vote in the school district’s elections reside.
The information contained on the Statement of Organization must be kept up-to-date. If a change in the information takes place, an amendment to the form must be filed no later than the due date of the next Campaign Statement required after the change. A committee may voluntarily file the required Statement of Organization amendments earlier if desired.
Under certain circumstances, a Candidate Committee can be used to seek a second office.
- A candidate for a local office (village, township, city, school or county) can use his or her Candidate Committee to seek a second local office if the contribution limit for the new office are the same or greater than the contribution limits for the former office.
- A local candidate who wishes to seek election to a state elective office must register a separate Candidate Committee with the Bureau of Elections.
- A state elective officeholder cannot use his or her Candidate Committee to seek another office. A candidate for a state elective office who wishes to seek election to another state elective office, local office, or judicial office must register a separate Candidate Committee to seek the office.
- A candidate for a judicial office can use his or her judicial Candidate Committee to seek another judicial office if the contribution limit for the new office are the same or greater than the contribution limit for the current office. A judicial officeholder cannot use his or her judicial Candidate Committee to seek election to a state elective office. A judicial officeholder who wishes to seek election to a state elective office must register a separate Candidate Committee to seek the office.
- A term-limited state, county or local officeholder must form a new committee to seek election to any other office.
The term “state elective office” means the office of governor, lieutenant governor, state senator, state representative, secretary of state, attorney general, supreme court justice, state board of education, University of Michigan regent, Michigan State University trustee and Wayne State University governor.