Do You Know Your PAC? Understanding PAC Compliance at the Federal, State & Local Levels

February 28, 2018
Peter Sherman, Senior Vice President, PAC Services

Running a PAC can be a daunting task. In addition to raising money and deciding who should receive contributions, there are myriad federal and state campaign finance laws and regulations that sit out there like a mine field for companies and associations that are politically active.

It requires an individual working full-time to handle all the responsibilities of running a PAC. And for those organizations that are active at the state and local levels, even more manpower may be required. While the campaign finance laws at the federal level do not change substantively that often, the same cannot be said for state and local laws and regulations. This means organizations that are active at the state and local levels need to keep abreast of any changes to ensure that their PACs remain compliant.

And don’t forget that making sure your PAC is fully compliant only gets more difficult in an election year. As we head into the 2018 primary season, it is not too early to make sure you have put together a road map for your political activities. Below are a few items you need to consider.

Did you know that:

  • The reporting of nonfederal contributions depends on the state and the source of the contributions?
  • While a state may not require contributions made from corporate or association treasury funds to be reported, contributions from a PAC, even a federal PAC, must be reported?
  • Many states also have different reporting requirements for contributions made from a federal PAC, as opposed to those coming from a state PAC?
  • Many states restrict or prohibit the making of contributions while the legislature is in session?
  • There are states that require certain receipts and expenditures to be reported within 24 or 48 hours?
  • Many states prohibit the making of corporate contributions to state political committees?
  • In a number of states there are prohibitions and limitations on the making of contributions by companies that have public contracts?
  • In some states contributions to local political committees are controlled by state law and in others localities have their own limits and reporting requirements?
  • Some localities have their own pay-to-play provisions?

And while engaging in political activity at the federal level may not be as complicated as the state level, remember that:

  • PACs filing reports with the Federal Election Commission have the option of filing reports on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • PACs filing monthly must file reports by no later than the 20th of each month, disclosing activity that occurred during the previous month, regardless of whether the 20th falls on a weekend or holiday.
  • A Pre-General report must be filed in October and a Post-Election report must be filed in December.
  • PACs that select to file quarterly will have reports due on April 15, July 15, and October 15, and must also file a Post-General report in December.
  • Quarterly filers may also be required to file a Pre-General report in October and may be required to file Pre-Primary reports throughout the year if contributions are made in connection with primary elections.
  • Solicitations for contributions to the federal PAC must contain a number of notices with specific language.
  • Only certain employees can be solicited at any time by a company for contributions to the company’s PAC.
  • Trade associations are limited to soliciting certain individuals and entities.

These are just some of the issues you need to consider when making contributions to federal and state political committees. You need to be vigilant in tracking your activity to ensure you do not make a prohibited contribution or miss a filing deadline.

DDC has been navigating these mine fields for over 20 years. In addition to our proprietary technology, DDC has a staff of campaign finance professionals that handle the compliance and administrative requirements for nearly 125 corporate and association PACs—including PACs that are active at the federal level and in every state across the country. So no matter where your PAC is active, DDC is fully capable of ensuring your compliance, and we are available to help you avoid these pitfalls.


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