Table of Contents
- A - Committee Treasurer, Designated Record Keeper and Depository
- A1 - Campaign Finance Recordkeeping - Best Practices
- A2 - Information for Michigan Financial Institutions
- B - Registering a Committee With a Statement of Organization Form
- B1 - Filing Requirements
- C - The Reporting Waiver
- D - Electronic Filing of Campaign Statements (State Level Committees Only)
- E - Late Filing Fees, Waivers and Reviews
- F - Fundraisers
- G - Immediate Disclosure Reports
- 48 Hour/Late Contribution ReportsSpecial Election Independent Expenditure Reports24-Hour Reports
- H - Committee Types
- I - Use of Public Facilities, Funds, Etc, Prohibited
- J - Identification Requirements
- K - Out-of-State Groups
- L - Independent Contractors (Media Buyers and Other Vendors Purchasing Goods for the Committee)
- M - Recount Expenses
- N - Penalties
- O - Prohibited Contributions
- O1 - Contributions Exemptions
- O2 - Contributions Received by a Partnership,LLC or PLLC
- P - Special Primary, General and Recall Elections
- Q - Individuals and the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA)
- R - Incumbent Candidates
- S - Campaign Signs - FAQs
- T - Transfers
- W - Dissolution of a Committee
- X - Declaratory Rulings and Interpretive Statements
- Y - The Complaint Process
- Z - Reference Information
The Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) requires groups participating in Michigan elections to form and register committees. Committees are groups that:
- receive contributions or make expenditures to influence voters for or against the nomination or election of a candidate;
- receive contributions or make expenditures to influence voters for the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question;
- make independent expenditures to influence voters; or
- receive contributions or make expenditures to assist a political party in qualifying for ballot access in Michigan.
The types of committees covered by the MCFA are:
- Candidate Committees
- Political and Independent Committees (PACS)
- Independent Expenditure Committees (Super PAC)
- Caucus Committees
- Separate Segregated Fund (SSF)
- Ballot Question Committees
- Political Party Committees
- State Central
- Congressional District
A Candidate Committee is a committee designated by a candidate to meet the requirements under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) for the candidate’s campaign. It is also the only committee type that can consist of one individual; the candidate him or herself. A candidate may only have one committee for each office sought. A Candidate Committee is under the direction and control of the candidate. All money received or spent by a Candidate Committee must be spent to further the nomination or election of that candidate or to pay expenses incidental to holding the elective office if the candidate is an officeholder. The committee funds must never be considered a part of the candidate’s personal financial holdings or estate.
As soon as a person becomes a “candidate” as defined under MCFA, he or she is required to form a committee within 10 calendar days and register the committee within 10 calendar days from its formation date. Candidates seeking state, judicial, county, city, township, village and certain school offices must file a Statement of Organization form and meet the other disclosure obligations of the MCFA. This is true even if the candidate:
- only uses personal funds to campaign;
- does not receive or spend any funds when seeking office; or
- is running a write-in campaign.
A Candidate Committee may not accept contributions from the treasury funds of a corporation, labor organization, Indian Tribe/Domestic Dependent Sovereign (DDS), a Super PAC or from a person holding an interest in one of the three casinos located in Detroit or from foreign nationals.
POLITICAL COMMITTEE AND INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE (PAC)
Independent Committees and Political Committees are both commonly referred to as PACS or Political Action Committees. A PAC is required to form and register a committee within 10 calendar days under MCFA as soon as two or more persons acting together that receive or spend $500.00 or more in a calendar year to influence voters. A group must register as a Political Committee or as an Independent Committee with the local county clerk’s office or the Bureau of Elections depending on the activity of the PAC. While all PACS are either a Political Committee or Independent Committee, subtypes of PACS exist in both designations. These subtypes are explained below.
Note: Other names and labels are often applied to Political Committees and Independent Committees, although the terms are not found in the MCFA; these include Political Action Committee (PAC), Leadership PAC, Legislative PAC, Leadership Fund, Victory Fund, Majority Fund, Minority Fund, etc. All are either Political Committees or Independent Committees which must follow all the requirements of the MCFA for Political and Independent Committees.
A Political Committee (PAC) is formed to support one or more candidates and may also support or oppose ballot questions. A Political Committee may not accept contributions from the treasury funds of a corporation, labor organization, domestic dependent sovereign (DDS), a person holding an interest in one of the three casinos located in Detroit, a Super PAC or from foreign national. A Political Committee must observe the same contribution limits as an individual when making contributions to, or expenditures in support of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of a candidate.
A Super PAC is a political committee that is formed to support or oppose candidates through independent expenditures. Unlike other PACS, a Super PAC is allowed to receive corporate, union and Indian Tribe/Domestic Dependent Sovereign (DDS) treasury funds. A Super PAC is not allowed to use the funds to directly support a candidate through contributions of money or in-kind contributions, nor can the Super PAC give to other committee types that support candidates directly such as Political Committees, Independent Committees and Political Party committees. Super PACS can make unlimited independent expenditure to support or oppose candidates. Super PACS can also make expenditures to Ballot Question Committees. Super PACS are a result of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision.
An Independent Committee (PAC) is formed to support one or more candidates and may also support or oppose ballot questions. An Independent Committee may not accept contributions from the treasury funds of a corporation, labor organization, domestic dependent sovereign (DDS), a person holding an interest in one of the three casinos located in Detroit, a Super PAC or from foreign national.
An Independent Committee that meets the following three criteria may give a candidate for elective office ten times the amount a Political Committee is permitted to give the candidate. The higher contribution limits are not allowed until the committee meets all 3 criteria listed below.
- 1. Registers as an Independent Committee at least six months before the election for which it expects to make expenditures at the higher limits (ten times amount);
- 2. Received contributions from at least 25 persons; and
- 3. In the same calendar year as #2, makes expenditures to support or oppose three candidates in Michigan within the lower contribution limits applicable to a Political Committee.
A Caucus Committee (PAC) is an Independent Committee established by the political party caucuses (Democratic and Republican) of the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan State Senate. There are only four caucus committees established in the legislature. All four Caucus Committees are qualified to give at the higher limits.
- House Republican Campaign Committee
- Michigan House Democratic Fund
- Michigan Senate Democratic Fund
- Senate Republican Campaign Committee
A Caucus Committee is restricted in making contributions during a contested primary. A Caucus Committee may make unlimited contributions during the general election period. However, a Caucus Committee is the only type of committee, other than a Candidate Committee that must adhere to contribution limits.
A Separated Segregated Fund (SSF) can be either a Political Committee or an Independent Committee. Sections 54 and 55 of the MCFA provide that corporations, labor organizations and Indian Tribes can establish a PAC to support or oppose candidates in Michigan. The corporations, labor organizations and Indian Tribes may use treasury funds to pay the costs of the establishment, administration and solicitation of contributions to a SSF. However, the corporations, labor organizations and Indian tribe may not use its treasury funds to give direct support to candidates. Rather, the SSF can solicit and accept funds from a restricted group of employees and/or members and other SSFs.
An SSF must include in the name of the committee the name of the person or persons that sponsor the committee, if any, or with whom the committee is affiliated. A person, other than an individual or a committee, sponsors or is affiliated with an Independent Committee or Political Committee if that person establishes, directs, controls, or financially supports the administration of the committee. A person does not financially support the administration of a committee by merely making a contribution to the committee.
BALLOT QUESTION COMMITTEE
A Ballot Question Committee is a committee that receives contributions and makes expenditures in support of, or in opposition to, the qualification, passage or defeat of a ballot question.
- A Ballot Question Committee is prohibited from making contributions or expenditures to influence the nomination or election of a candidate.
- A Ballot Question Committee may not accept money from foreign nationals.
- A Ballot Question Committee is permitted to accept contributions from the treasury funds of a corporation, labor organization, domestic dependent sovereign or from a person holding an interest in one of the three casinos located in Detroit.
A ballot question committee is required to form and register a committee within 10 calendar days under MCFA as soon as an organization or group receives $500.00 in contributions or makes independent expenditures totaling $500.00 in a calendar year to influence voters for or against the qualification, passage or defeat of one or more ballot questions in Michigan. A Ballot Question Committee registers a committee by filing a Statement of Organization form with the appropriate filing official.
Note: Section 3(4) of the MCFA provides that person, other than a committee registered under this act, making an expenditure to a ballot question committee, shall not, for that reason, be considered a committee for the purposes of this act unless the person solicits or receives contributions for the purpose of making an expenditure to that ballot question committee. Therefore, if a Ballot Question Committee receives a contribution from a corporation, labor organization, domestic dependent sovereign or other organization transferring treasury funds to a Ballot Question Committee, the organization is not required to register under the MCFA as long as the funds were not solicited or received for that purpose.
POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE
A Political Party Committee is a committee formed by a state central, congressional district, or county committee of a political party. Each state central committee designates one official county political party committee in each county, and one official congressional district political party committee in each congressional district. An organization that is not the official state level organization designated congressional district organization or county level organization of a political party is not permitted to register as a Political Party Committee under the MCFA. However they may register as a PAC.
A political party organization is required to form and register a committee within 10 calendar days under MCFA as soon as it:
- receives or spends $500.00 or more in a calendar year to influence voters for or against the nomination or election candidates or the qualification, passage or defeat of ballot questions in Michigan.
- receives or spends $500.00 or more in a calendar year in an attempt to qualify as a new political party in Michigan.
All Political Party Committees file with the Bureau of Elections.