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Idaho Secretary of State
Election Division


CAMPAIGN FINANCE FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Contributions to Committees & Candidates in Idaho

 

 

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. For instructions on completing Schedule C - In-Kind Contributions and Expenditures, see pages 34 to 35.

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.

May a Candidate receive contributions if he or she is not a Political Treasurer?
Statutorily, all contributions should be received by the Political Treasurer, not the Candidate. However, if a Candidate receives a contribution, they should immediately transfer the contribution to the Political Treasurer.

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. Once a contributor exceeds $50 in a calendar year, their contributions above $50 are itemized on Schedule A - Itemized Contributions of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report.

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 on the Campaign Financial Disclosure Report 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.

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:
a) Not over $25, it is not considered a contribution.
b) 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 on the Candidate’s Campaign Financial Disclosure Report form?
If the payment of expenses:
a) 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.
b) 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 on our Campaign Financial Disclosure Report (C-2)?
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.
a) If the contribution is from one of the lobbyist’s employers, the contribution should be reported on Schedule A and list the employers name.
b) If the contribution is from the lobbyist, the contribution should be reported on Schedule A 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?
a) A designated contribution is one that the contributor has identified as being for a specific election.
b) 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.

For example: A contributor makes an undesignated contribution of a $100 to a Legislative Candidate who has won the Primary Election. The contribution is received prior to the General Election. This contribution counts toward the contributor’s contribution limit for the General 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?
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.


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