Campaign Finance Frequently Asked Questions

Campaign Finance FAQ

Who is required to report to the Secretary of State?
  • Candidates
  • Political Committees
What other items are required to be reported to the Secretary of State?
Who is considered a Candidate? (Section 67-6602(1), Idaho Code)
Any individual actively seeking nomination or election to any state or local office.
What offices require reporting to the Secretary of State’s Office?
  • Attorney General
  • Governor
  • Judge of the Appellate Court
  • Judge of the District Court
  • Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Secretary of State
  • State Controller
  • State Representative
  • State Senator
  • State Treasurer
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • County Clerk
  • Magistrate Justice
  • All County Candidates
  • All City Candidates
  • All Local Taxing District Candidates including Schools, Measures, and Political Committees once they have met the threshold specified in Section 67-6608, Idaho Code.
When does an individual become a Candidate?

An individual becomes a Candidate when he or she does any one of the following: (Section 67-6602(1), Idaho Code)

  1. Announced the individual’s candidacy publicly;
  2. Filed for public office;
  3. Received a contribution for the purpose of promoting the individual’s candidacy for office; or
  4. Made an expenditure, contracted for services, or reserved space with the intent of promoting the individual’s candidacy for office.
An official filing is required to satisfy current Campaign Finance filing requirements. Current officeholders are considered Candidates until the Candidate filing deadline for the next election for his or her office.
Can an individual inquire about support for his or her candidacy without becoming a Candidate?

According to the Attorney General’s Opinion No. 77-29:

“Those using personal funds to travel to various areas of the state to inquire about support for a proposed candidacy are not “candidates” if they limit their activities to seeking advice concerning their potential candidacy. However, one becomes a “Candidate” by either making broad based public contacts regarding his candidacy or by making any contacts aimed primarily at soliciting campaign staff, volunteers, or financing.”
What is a Political Committee?

An individual, corporation, association, firm, partnership, committee, political party, club or other organization or group of people become a Political Committee when any of the following occur: (Section 67-6602(20), Idaho Code)

  1. They are specifically designated to support or oppose any Candidate or Measure.
  2. They receive contributions and make expenditures in an amount exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in any calendar year for the purpose of supporting or opposing one (1) or more Candidates and/or Measures.

Any entity registered with the federal election commission shall not be considered a political committee for the purposes of this chapter. (Section 67-6602(20b), Idaho Code)

When does a recognized local political party committee become a Political Committee? (Section 67-6602(20c), Idaho Code)
A county, district or regional committee of a recognized political party shall not be considered a political committee for the purposes of this chapter unless such party committee has expenditures exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) in a calendar year.
What is an Independent Expenditure? (Section 67-6602(11), Idaho Code)

“Independent expenditure” means any expenditure by a person for a communication expressly advocating the election, passage or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or measure that is not made with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request of a suggestion of, a candidate or any agent or authorized committee of the candidate or political committee supporting or opposing a measure. As used in this subsection, “expressly advocating” means any communication containing a message advocating election, passage or defeat including, but not limited to, the name of the candidate or measure, or expression such as “vote for,” “elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for,” “vote against,” “defeat” or “reject.

See Frequently Asked Questions about Independent Expenditures under the “Expenditures” tab above.

What is an Electioneering Communication? (Section 67-6602(7), Idaho Code)
“Electioneering Communication” means any communication broadcast by television or radio, printed in a newspaper or on a billboard, directly mailed or delivered by hand to personal residences, or telephone calls made to personal residences, or otherwise distributed that:
  1. Unambiguously refers to any candidate; and
  2. Is broadcast, printed, mailed, delivered, made or distributed within thirty (30) days before a primary election or sixty (60) days before a general election; and
  3. Is broadcast to, printed in a newspaper, distributed to, mailed to or delivered by hand to, telephone calls made to, or otherwise distributed to an audience that includes members of the electorate for such public office. (Section 67-6602(7), Idaho Code)
What is a Nonbusiness Entity? (Section 67-6602(18), Idaho Code)

A “Nonbusiness entity” means any group (of two (2) or more individuals), corporation, association, firm, partnership, committee, club or other organization which:

  1. Does not have as its principal purpose the conduct of business activities for profit; and
  2. Received during the preceding calendar year contributions, gifts or membership fees, which in the aggregate exceeded ten percent (10%) of its total receipts for such year. (Section 67-6602(18), Idaho Code)
What are the duties of a Political Treasurer?

These are the key responsibilities to being a Political Treasurer.

  1. Keep detailed accounts, current within not more than seven days after the date of receiving a contribution or making an expenditure. (Section 67-6604(1), Idaho Code)
  2. Keep a detailed record of accounts for at least one year after the date of the election or filing of the last Campaign Financial Disclosure Report, whichever is later. (Section 67-6604(3), Idaho Code)
  3. File the required Campaign Financial Disclosure Reports on time while reporting all required information. Review the Campaign Finance Reporting Schedule. (Section 67-6607, Idaho Code)
  4. Obtain the full name and complete address of any individual or organization which has made a contribution. Only those contributing more than $50 during a calendar year must be itemized on the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report. (Section 67-6607(1a), Idaho Code)
  5. Transmit any anonymous contribution of more than $50 to the State Controller for deposit in the public school fund. (Section 67-6610(b), Idaho Code)
  6. Obtain a receipt, canceled check or an accurate copy thereof for an expenditure of $25 or more. (Section 67-6607(1b), Idaho Code)
  7. Clearly indicate on all public political advertising the person responsible for such communications. For example: Print “Paid for by Candidate X for Senate, John Doe Political Treasurer” on all printed materials. (Section 67-6614A, Idaho Code)
    Secretary of State Administrative Rule—Items Exempt From Advertising Regulation: Campaign buttons, bumper stickers, pins, pens and similar small items upon which a disclaimer cannot be conveniently printed are not deemed to be regulated by the provisions of Section 67-6614A, Idaho Code.
  8. Notify the Secretary of State of:
    1. Any contribution of $1,000 or more received. This notification shall be made within 48 hours after the receipt of such contribution. (Section 67-6607(3), Idaho Code)
    2. Any Independent Expenditures. (Section 67-6611 & 67-6602(11), Idaho Code)
    3. Any Electioneering Communication. (Section 67-6628 & 67-6602(7), Idaho Code)
Who must appoint and certify a Political Treasurer? (Section 67-6603, Idaho Code)
  • All Candidates offices
  • All Political Committees
When must the Political Treasurer be appointed and certified? (Section 67-6603, Idaho Code)
A Political Treasurer must be appointed and certified prior to any of the following occurring:
  1. Receiving any contributions,
  2. Spending any funds, or
  3. Becoming a Political Committee.
What are the requirements for serving as a Political Treasurer? (Section 67-6603, Idaho Code)
The only requirement for serving as a Political Treasurer is that the individual must be registered to vote in the state of Idaho.
Can a Candidate serve as his or her own Political Treasurer? (Section 67-6603, Idaho Code)
Yes, a Candidate may serve as his or her own Political Treasurer. However, it is recommended that the Candidate keep campaign funds separate from personal funds (i.e. separate bank accounts).
Can an individual serve as a Political Treasurer for more than one Candidate and/or Political Committee? (Section 67-6603, Idaho Code)
Yes, an individual may serve as the Political Treasurer for more than one Candidate and/or Political Committee. However, they need to keep separate records and accounts for each Candidate and/or Political Committee.
How do you appoint and certify a Political Treasurer?

To appoint and certify a Political Treasurer, the Appointment and Certification of Political Treasurer (C-1) form must be completed while creating an online Campaign Finance account with the Secretary of State’s Office.

  1. For a Candidate, this form must be signed online by both the Candidate and the Treasurer.
  2. For a Political Committee, this form must be signed online by both the Chairman of the Political Committee and the Political Treasurer.
What happens if a Political Treasurer resigns, is removed, or dies? (Section 67-6603(b), Idaho Code)

The Candidate or the Chairman of the Political Committee must appoint and certify a new Political Treasurer by filing a new Appointment and Certification of Political Treasurer (C-1) through the Campaign Finance Portal.

Contributions may not be received and expenditures may not be made until a new Political Treasurer is appointed and certified.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTING

I am a Political Treasurer for a Candidate who was defeated in the Primary Election, do I need to continue to file Campaign Disclosure Reports?
Yes, any Candidate who was defeated in the Primary Election but showed an unexpended balance of contributions or a campaign debt must continue to file annual reports until there is no unexpended balance of contributions or debt. Once you have submitted your report with a zero balance and zero debt, contact us at [email protected] and we will terminate the account.
Does a Campaign Financial Disclosure Report need to be filed if there have been no contributions or expenditures in the reporting period?
Yes, a report must be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office of that fact.
What should I do as a Political Treasurer if I am unable to balance a report that is due?
The filing of a late report is a violation of the law and the payment of a fine may be required.
May I receive an extension on the due date to file a report?
No, the Sunshine Law does not allow the Secretary of State to grant extensions on filing deadlines. If the Political Treasurer is unable to file the report as required, the Candidate or Chairman of the Political Committee may file the report on behalf of the Political Treasurer. Note: The filing of a late report is a violation of the law and the payment of a fine may be required.
May a Candidate or Political Committee transfer assets for the purpose of earning interest?
Yes, a Candidate or Political Committee may transfer assets for the purpose of earning interest. However, the amount transferred should not be reported on the campaign report when it is transferred out of or into the campaign account since the money is still considered part of the campaign’s assets. The interest earned on the investment must be listed as a contribution from the investment. Any service charge associated with this investment must be reported as an expenditure.

TERMINATION OF REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

When and under what circumstances can the reporting requirements be terminated?
Candidates and Political Committees may terminate reporting requirements only upon reaching a zero balance and have no outstanding debt. Note: No Candidate or Political Committee may terminate prior to an election in which they are involved.
I have met the requirements for terminating. How do I notify the Secretary of State’s Office of my termination?
Termination of a Candidate or Political Committee’s reporting requirement is accomplished by filing a “Termination Report.” A Termination Report is filed by checking the “Terminated” box when filing a report using your Online Campaign Finance Portal. This may be done on a regular report or any time during the year as an annual report.
How may campaign funds be used?
Contributions may be used in any of the following ways:
  1. In connection with the campaign of a Candidate,
  2. Ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the duties of the individual as an officeholder,
  3. Donations to non-profit organizations,
  4. Donations to national, state or local party committees,
  5. Donations to state and local Candidates, or
  6. Donations to Political Committees.
Are there ways that campaign funds may not be used?
Contributions cannot be used in the following ways:
  1. Any personal use,
  2. Home mortgage, rent or utility payment,
  3. Clothing purchases except for items of de minimis value such as campaign shirts or hats,
  4. A non-campaign or officeholder related automobile expense,
  5. A country club membership,
  6. A vacation or other non-campaign related trip,
  7. A tuition payment,
  8. Admission to a sporting event, concert, theater or other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign,
  9. Dues, fees and other payments to a health club or recreational facility, or
  10. Meals, groceries or other food expense, except for tickets to meals that the Candidate attends solely for the purpose of enhancing the candidacy of another person or meal expenses which are incurred as part of a campaign activity or as part of a function that is related to the Candidate’s or officeholder’s responsibilities.

CONTRIBUTIONS

What is considered a contribution?
“Contribution” includes any advance, conveyance, forgiveness of indebtedness, deposit, distribution, loan. payment, gift, pledge, subscription or transfer of money or anything of value, and any contract, agreement, promise or other obligation, whether or not legally enforceable, to make a contribution, in support of or in opposition to any candidate, political committee or measure.” (Section 67-6602(c), I.C.)
Does a contribution include money or items supplied by the Candidate?
Yes, any personal funds or property of a Candidate expended or transferred to cover expenses incurred in support of the Candidate are considered a contribution to the Candidate’s campaign. They must be reported as contributions from the Candidate. However, the payment of the filing fee is excluded unless paid for from campaign funds.
May a Candidate or Political Treasurer accept corporate and union contributions?
Yes, the Sunshine Law in no way restricts the ability of a corporation, union, or any other person to give a Candidate or Political Committee money, goods or services.
Is there a limit on personal funds or property a Candidate may contribute to his or her own campaign?
No, contribution limits set forth in section 67-6610A are not applicable to a Candidate. A Candidate may contribute as much as he or she would like to for his or her own campaign.
Are there limits on contributions that a Candidate may receive other than from the Candidate themselves?
Yes, contributions are limited based on who the contribution is from and who the contribution is going to. Contribution limits are set forth in Section 67-6610A. For specific limit amounts, refer to the Contribution Limits table.
Does the contribution limits apply to money or items supplied by the Candidate’s spouse or family members?
Yes, any funds or property expended or transferred to the Candidate by the Candidate’s spouse or family members are subject to the contribution limits. For specific limit amounts, refer to the Contribution Limits table.
Does a contribution include items other than cash?
Yes, contributions other than money or its equivalent are deemed to have a cash value equivalent to the fair market value of the item. These are considered In-Kind Contributions and must be reported as such.
What are In-Kind Contributions?
In-Kind Contributions are contributions other than money or its equivalent. a) These donations are deemed to have a monetary value equivalent to the fair market value of the contribution. b) Services, property or rights furnished at less than the fair market value are deemed a contribution. A contribution of this kind shall be reported as an In-Kind Contribution at its fair market value and will count toward any applicable contribution limit for the contributor.
How does an In-Kind Contribution affect my cash balance?
Since In-Kind Contributions are not cash, they are reflected in both the total contributions and total expenditures. Therefore, they do not affect the actual cash balance.
How is the value of an In-Kind Contribution determined?
The overriding principle governing the value of an In-Kind Contribution is the amount a well-informed buyer or lessee, would pay; and the amount a well-informed seller, or lessor, would accept. Here is a list of often seen In-Kind Contributions and how they should be reported:
  • A contributor buys supplies or equipment for the campaign, the In-Kind Contribution equals the amount spent on the purchase.
  • A contributor takes out an advertisement supporting a Candidate after collaborating with or receiving approval from the Candidate, the In-Kind Contribution equals the cost of the ad.
  • A contributor loans the campaign the use of a computer or copier, the In-Kind Contribution equals the cost of leasing a similar piece of equipment for the period of time in question.
  • A contributor prints campaign literature at a cost below the printer’s normal charge for a similar job, the In-Kind Contribution equals the amount of the discount.
  • A contributor provides food or beverages for a campaign event, the In-Kind Contribution equals the amount that the business would normally expect to receive from the sale of the items.
  • The central committee of a Political Party agrees to use its bulk mailing permit and pay the postage of a mailing supporting your candidacy. The In-Kind Contribution is only the face value of the postage costs paid by the party. Do not factor in the amount the party paid for the permit.
Since the itemization requirement for contributions is $50 and the itemization requirement for expenditures is $25, how do we determine if we need to itemize In-Kind Contributions?
All in-kind transactions must be itemized, regardless of the amount, on Schedule C – In-Kind Contributions and Expenditures of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report.
I am the Political Treasurer for a Candidate. A Political Committee has paid for printing costs or other services. How is that reported on the Candidate’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Report (C-2) form?
This is considered an In-Kind Contribution from the Political Committee. It will be reported as an In-Kind Contribution.
A Political Committee, organization or corporation makes a contribution to a Candidate or to another Political Committee. How is that listed on the recipient’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Report (C-2) form?
A contribution from a Political Committee, organization or corporation is listed as a contribution from that entity. However, there are exceptions to this rule. They are:
  • If a Political Committee receives all of its funding from one person who exercises exclusive control over the distribution of the funds, the contribution is listed as a contribution from the controlling person.
  • If contributions made by a person or Political Committee whose contributions or expenditures are financed, maintained or controlled by a trade association, labor union or collective bargaining organization, the contribution is listed as a contribution from the trade association, labor union or collective bargaining organization.
  • If two or more entities share a majority of members on their board of directors, share two or more officers, are owned or controlled by the same majority shareholder or shareholders or persons, are in a parent-subsidiary relationship or have bylaws so stating, the entities are treated as a single entity instead of separate entities.
Which date should be used as the Date Received?
The Date Received is the date that the Political Treasurer received the contribution. If the contribution is received by the Candidate, the date the Candidate received the contribution should be listed as the Date Received.
Do contributions that are less than $50 need to be tracked since they are reported as Unitemized Contributions?
Yes, all contributions should be tracked. The Political Treasurer should have the full name and address of all contributors.
Are loans to a Candidate considered contributions and subject to contribution limits?
Yes, loans to Candidates are considered contributions. Loans to Candidates are subject to the contribution limits.
  • Repayments made on the loans reduce the amount of the contribution.
  • Loans that exceed the contribution limits are a violation of the law even if they are repaid in full.
  • Loans from the Candidate do not have contribution limits.
How are loans to a Candidate or Political Committee reported?
Loans to Candidates or Political Committees are reported in your Online Campaign Finance Portal.
Are purchases made with a credit card considered debt?
Yes, purchases made with a credit card are considered debt and must be reported as an expenditure in your Online Campaign Finance Portal.
If a volunteer provides an open house, are the expenses and home hospitality considered a contribution?
If the cost of the ordinary home hospitality and incidental expenses by the volunteer are:
  1. Not over $25, it is not considered a contribution.
  2. Is over $25, it is considered a contribution from the individual and must be reported as such.
I am a Political treasurer for a current office holder (i.e., a Candidate). A lobbyist is paying for various expenses for the office holder or Candidate. Does this need to be reported in the candidate’s Online Campaign Finance Portal?
If the payment of expenses:
  1. Is not in support of the Candidate’s campaign, it does not need to be reported on the Candidate’s report. It is the responsibility of the lobbyist to report the expenditure.
  2. Is in support of the Candidate’s campaign, it does need to be reported on the Candidate’s report.
I am a Political Treasurer for a Candidate, including current office holders, or Political Committee. A lobbyist donates a check or cash to the campaign. How should this be reported in our Online Campaign Finance Portal?
This contribution should be reported on the Candidate or Political Committee’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Report. It needs to be determined if the contribution is from the lobbyist themselves or from the employer of the lobbyist.
  1. If the contribution is from one of the lobbyist’s employers, the contribution should be reported and list the employers name.
  2. If the contribution is from the lobbyist, the contribution should be reported and list the lobbyists name.

DESIGNATING CONTRIBUTIONS

What is designating contributions?
Designating contributions is the identification of whether the contribution is to be used toward the upcoming Primary or General Election for the determination of contribution limits.
Do Candidates have to designate contributions?
Yes, Candidates must identify whether the contribution is to be used toward the Primary or General Election.
Do Political Committees have to designate contributions?
No, a Political Committee is not required to designate contributions as they do not have contribution limits.
What is a designated versus an undesignated contribution?
  1. A designated contribution is one that the contributor has identified as being for a specific election.
  2. An undesignated contribution is one that the contributor has not identified as being for a specific election.
How does a contributor designate a contribution?
A contributor designates a contribution in writing. They can do this either by noting the designation on the check or on a signed statement that accompanies the contribution. The contribution then counts toward the donor’s contribution limit for the designated election.
How is an undesignated contribution reported?
An undesignated contribution is automatically designated for the Candidate’s upcoming election. Any undesignated contribution counts toward the donor’s contribution limit for the upcoming election.
May the Candidate or Political Treasurer designate an undesignated contribution for a specific election?
No, only a contributor may designate a contribution for a specific election. All undesignated contributions count toward the contributor’s contribution limit for the next upcoming election.
Can a Candidate’s campaign solicit donations for a specific election?
Yes, a Candidate’s campaign may solicit contributions for a specific election. The campaign should supply contributors with a form that clearly states the election to which the contribution will apply. This form must be signed and returned with the contribution to the Candidate’s Political Treasurer.
How long must a copy of the contribution designations be kept? (Section 67-6604(3), Idaho Code)
Contribution designations must be kept for at least one year after the date of the election to which the contribution is referring to. It is the responsibility of the Political Treasurer to maintain these records.

EXPENDITURES

What is considered an expenditure?
An expenditure includes “any payment, contribution, subscription, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, and includes a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure. The term “expenditure” also includes a promise to pay, a payment or a transfer of anything of value in exchange of goods, services, property, facilities or anything of value for the purpose of assisting, benefiting or honoring any public official or candidate, or assisting in furthering or opposing any election campaign.” (Section 67-6602(g), I.C.)
Must personal expenditures made by a Candidate in support of his or her own campaign be reported?
Yes, all personal funds expended by a Candidate in support of his or her own campaign must be reported. All expenditures made by a Candidate in support of his or her own campaign are reported as loans to the campaign.
The Candidate’s campaign repays the Candidate for personal expenditures. How is this reported?
Since the personal expenditure was reported as a loan, the repayment to the Candidate is shown as a repayment on the loan from the Candidate. These repayments are reported on the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report on Schedule D – Loans.
Our Political Committee paid for printing costs or other services for a Candidate or other Political Committee. How should we report that on OUR report?
The Political Committee will list the individual, organization or business to whom the monetary payment was made along with the name of the Candidate(s) or Political Committee(s) benefiting from the expenditure on Schedule B – Itemized Expenditures page.
A reporting Candidate or Political Committee made an Independent Expenditure. How should it be reported?
The Political Treasurer will list the individual, organization or business to whom the monetary payment was made. Enter the purpose of the expenditure including a list of the Candidate(s) and/or Political Committee(s) being supported or opposed by the expenditure. Be sure to identify if it is in support of or opposition of each Candidate or Committee listed.

INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

What is an independent expenditure? (Section 67-6602(11), Idaho Code)
“Independent expenditure” means any expenditure by a person for a communication expressly advocating the election, passage or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or measure that is not made with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request of a suggestion of, a candidate or any agent or authorized committee of the candidate or political committee supporting or opposing a measure. As used in this subsection, “expressly advocating” means any communication containing a message advocating election, passage or defeat including, but not limited to, the name of the candidate or measure, or expression such as “vote for,” “elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for,” “vote against,” “defeat” or “reject.”
When is a candidate “clearly identified?”
A candidate is clearly identified if the candidate’s name, nickname, photograph or drawing appears, or the identity of the candidate is otherwise apparent. Examples include: “the Governor,” “your senator”, “the Democratic candidate for Senate in Legislative District 14.”
What is “Express Advocacy” (Candidate Advocacy)?

Express advocacy (candidate advocacy) means that the communication includes a message that unmistakably urges election or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidates(s).

Section 67-6602(11), Idaho Code, defines “express advocacy” as any communication containing a message advocating election, passage or defeat including, but not limited to, the name of the candidate or measure, or expression such as “vote for,” “elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for,” “vote against,” “defeat” or “reject.”

Examples of “Expressly Advocating”
  • “Vote for the Governor,” “re-elect your Senator,” “support the Democratic nominee,” “cast your ballot for the Republican challenger for Senate,” “vote against Franklin for House Position B,” “reject Reform for Governor.”
  • Words urging action with respect to candidates associated with a particular issue, e.g., “vote Pro-Cars” / “Pro-Bicycles,” when accompanied by names or photographs of candidates identified as either supporting or opposing the issue;
  • “Defeat” accompanied by a photograph of the opposed candidate, or the opposed candidate’s name, or “reject the incumbent”; and
  • Campaign slogan(s) or word(s), e.g., on posters, bumper stickers and advertisements, that in context can have no other reasonable meaning than to support or oppose a clearly identified candidate, for example, “Erickson’s the One,” “Leaf ’98.”

RETIRING DEBT

What is considered debt and how is the debt amount figured?
Debt means any unpaid monetary obligation incurred as listed on the reports filed through the post election period minus any cash balance reported on the post-election report.
Are loans considered debt?
Yes, outstanding loans are considered debt and must be reported on Schedule D – Loans.
Are purchases made with a credit card considered debt?
Yes, purchases made with a credit card are considered debt. Regardless of whether the credit card balance is paid when the statement is received all credit card transactions must be reported on Schedule E – Credit Cards and Debt and Schedule E-1 – Itemization of Credit Cards and Debt.
May I accept contributions to retire debt?
Yes, a Candidate with unpaid debt may accept additional contributions to retire such unpaid debt. However, the contributions can not exceed the applicable contribution limits for the election for which the debt was incurred.
Do contribution limits apply to contributions to retire debt?
Yes, contributors are still bound by the contribution limits. For example: A Legislative Candidate incurred debt during the last General Election. A contributor donated $500 before the last General Election. The individual would like to donate additional funds toward the incurred debt. In this example, the individual could contribute up to $500 and designate it toward the last General Election.
Can undesignated contributions be applied to the retirement of debt?
Yes, although all undesignated contributions are automatically designated for the Candidate’s upcoming election, the Candidate may use those funds to retire debt.
How does the Secretary of State determine if a Candidate has debt?
All previously filed reports document any campaign debt. All debt and payment on debt must be reported on the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report on Schedule D – Loans and Schedule E – Credit Cards and Debt.
What are frequent problems in reporting?
  1. Lack of Communication between the Political Treasurer and the Candidate. The law requires detailed accounts, current within not more than seven days after the date of receiving a contribution or making an expenditure.
  2. The Candidate or Political Committee has a new Political Treasurer, however, the Secretary of State’s Office has not been notified of the change. Not only is this a violation of the law, but the wrong individual is receiving communications from the Elections Division and those using the Secretary of State’s mailing list.
  3. Notices Disregarded: The lack of attention by a Political Treasurer to notices sent to them by the Elections Division reminding them of reports that are upcoming, requesting additional information or corrections.
  4. Source of contribution not accurate. The individual delivering the contribution check is listed as the contributor rather than the entity issuing the check. For example: an agent from a real estate agency delivers the check for Idaho Realtors PAC, the Political Treasurer lists the agent as the contributor rather than the Idaho Realtors PAC.
  5. A return or refund listed incorrectly. A return or refund should be listed as a negative expenditure because it is not a contribution.
  6. Inadequate disclosure of In-Kind Contributions or Independent Expenditures. The Candidate(s) name(s) or Political Committee(s) name(s) who benefited from the expenditure are not listed as being supported or opposed.
What are penalties for violation?

Section 67-6625, Idaho Code, “Violations – Civil Fine – Misdemeanor Penalty – Prosecution – Limitation – Venue.

  1. Any person who violates the provisions of sections 67-6603, 67-6604, 67-6606 through 67-6614A, 67-6617, 67-6619, 67-6620, 67-6621(1), 67-6624, 67-6627 or 67-6628, Idaho Code, shall be liable for a civil fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) if an individual, and not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) if a person other than an individual. The burden of proof for such civil liability shall be met by showing a preponderance of the evidence.
  2. Any person who violates section 67-6605 or 67-6621(2), Idaho Code, and any person who knowingly and willfully violates sections 67-6603 through 67-6614A, 67-6617, 67-6619, 67-6620, 67-6621(1), 67-6624, 67-6627 or 67-6628, Idaho Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, in addition to the fines set forth in subsection (1) of this section, may be imprisoned for not more than six (6) months or be both fined and imprisoned.
  3. The attorney general or the appropriate prosecuting attorney may prosecute any violations of this act.
  4. Prosecution for violation of this act must be commenced within two (2) years after the date on which the violation occurred.
  5. Venue for prosecution under the provisions of this chapter shall be in the county of residence of the defendant if the defendant is a resident of the state of Idaho, otherwise venue shall be in Ada county.”

Section 67-6625A, Idaho Code, “Late Filing Of Statement Or Report – Fees.

  1. If any person fails to file a report or statement required under this chapter on or before a specified date, he shall be liable to the secretary of state for deposit in the general fund in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) per day beginning forty-eight (48) hours after the deadline until the statement or report is filed. The secretary of state or the county clerk shall notify the person and his treasurer, if any, that a fine has been assessed and will continue to accrue until the report or statement has been filed. The notification shall be made by telephone or electronic means within twenty-four (24) hours of the missed filing deadline.
  2. The remedy provided in this section is cumulative and does not exclude any other remedy or penalty prescribed in section 67-6625, Idaho Code.
What are inspection and examination requirements of the secretary of state?
The Secretary of State is required by the Sunshine Law to inspect each report two days after it is filed and to notify any Political Treasurer who fails to file a report or files a report which does not conform to law. The Secretary of State must also notify a Political Treasurer when a complaint is filed alleging that a report does not conform to law or has not been filed. The Secretary of State is required to examine all filed reports within three months after the election to determine whether the reports conform to law. The Secretary of State is empowered to require any person to answer in writing and under oath questions concerning the source of any contribution. (Sections 67-6615 & 67-6616, Idaho Code)
What about citizen complaints?
Any registered voter has the right to file a complaint with the Secretary of State if he or she has reason to believe that a person has violated the Sunshine Law. Complaints must be filed on form L-5 which is available on request. The Secretary of State will thoroughly investigate all such complaints. (Sections 67-6615 & 67-6623, Idaho Code)

Idaho Contribution Limits

Aggregate Contributions From To Legislative Authorized Candidate Committee To Statewide Authorized Candidate Committee To PAC or State Party Committee
Individual (*other than candidate) $1,000 Per Election $5,000 Per Election No limits
Corporation, PAC, or other Recognized Legal Entity $1,000 Per Election $5,000 Per Election No limits
State Central Committees $2,000 †Per Election $10,000 †Per Election No limits

*Candidate contributions unlimited to his/her campaign

†Primary, General

‡Includes National Party Organizations

The contribution limits for the state legislator shall apply to judicial district offices.

Contributions other than money or its equivalent are deemed to have a monetary value equivalent to the fair market value of the contribution. Services or property or rights furnished at less than their fair market value for the purpose of assisting any candidate or political committee are deemed a contribution. A contribution of this kind shall be reported as an in-kind contribution at its fair market value and counts toward any applicable contribution limit of the contributor. Contributions shall not include the personal services of volunteers.