Public Act 98-0115 (Effective July 29, 2013)
The Illinois State Board of Elections has notified the County Clerk of the passage of changes in the filing threshold for political committees effective with the Governor’s signing HB 2418 on Saturday, July 27 enacting Public Act 98-0115. The threshold for required political committee filings has been raised from $3,000 to $5,000, effective July 29, 2013.
Candidates, groups or individuals that either receive contributions or make expenditures totaling more than $5,000 in any 12-month period in support of or opposition to a candidate or question of public policy or for electioneering communication must file a Statement of Organization (Form D-1) with the State Board of Elections. This filing is normally required within 10 business days of exceeding the $5,000 threshold, but must be filed within 2 business days if the threshold is exceeded in the 30 day period before an election.
As this is the first increase in the committee filing threshold since 1998, there is the potential for some confusion among candidates and committees. Please be aware that the threshold change does not affect the filing obligations for political committees in existence prior to July 29, 2013. Such committees must continue to meet their campaign disclosure filing obligations regardless of whether they have ever reached the $5,000 threshold level.
A revised copy of the D-5 Notice of Obligation, the form provided to all candidates for nomination, election or retention to public office at the time of petition filing is available here. It advises candidates of their filing obligations under the Illinois Campaign Financing Act. Questions may be directed to the Board at 217-782-4141 (Springfield) or 312-814-6440 (Chicago).
Please note Public Act 98-0115 also transfers all election and voter registration administration from the Lake County Clerk’s office to a new election commission to be appointed by the Chief Judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit within 30 days of the effective date of the law. Further details will be available at that time.
Who Is Covered by the Act?
The Illinois Campaign Financing Act applies to candidates, individuals, groups of persons or any organizations, political or otherwise, who have accepted contributions or made expenditures in excess of $5,000 within a 12-month period, in support or opposition to:
- a candidate or candidates for public office, or
- any question of public policy to be submitted to the voters; or who have made expenditures in excess of $5,000 within a 12-month period for electioneering communication -- defined as any form of communication or advertising that refers to a clearly identified candidate or political party made within the 60-days before a general election or 30-days before a general primary election. (This applies regardless of whether the candidate or party in question has knowledge of or has consented to the electioneering communication.) Once the threshold has been reached, the Act requires that the committee file campaign disclosure documents with the State Board of Elections and, if applicable, the County Clerk.
Records of financial transaction must be maintained from the beginning of the campaign in order to determine when the $5,000 threshold has been reached. A contribution is cash, loans or anything of value received in connection with an election or for political purposes. Goods or services provided to the campaign or purchased on behalf of the campaign, must be reported as an in-kind contribution.
A candidate's personal contributions or loans to his/her campaign must also be considered when determining if, or when, the threshold has been reached.
Who Is Not Covered by the Act?
- Individuals running for federal office.
- Corporations, associations, labor unions, or individuals who make political donations strictly from corporate profits, union treasury, or personal income. If a corporation or a labor union solicits funds to support or oppose candidates, or a question of public policy, such exclusion does not apply. Similarly, any entity other than a natural person that makes expenditures exceeding $3000 in a 12-month period supporting or opposing a public official or candidate is covered by the Act.
Notice of Obligation
At the time of filing, a candidate who files nomination papers in person will receive a notice of his obligation to file campaign disclosure reports under the Campaign Finance Act. If the candidate files petitions by mail or if someone files the papers on behalf of the candidate, the notice of obligation will be sent to the candidate within two business days.
Where Will I File My Reports?
All Illinois political committees, regardless of type, file their disclosure reports with the State Board of Elections. There are no longer any disclosure filings with county clerks. Reports can be filed with the Board offices in Springfield or Chicago.
Filing a Statement of Economic Interests
All candidates for public office are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests with either the Secretary of State or the County Clerk.
- All candidates for public office are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests with either the Secretary of State or the County Clerk. A candidate filing a Statement of Economic Interests with the Secretary of State, and any group(s) supporting or opposing such candidate, will file all required disclosure documents with the Illinois State Board of Elections (State Political Committee).
- A candidate filing a Statement of Economic Interests with the office of the County Clerk, and any group(s) supporting or opposing such candidate, will file all original documents with the Illinois State Board of Elections and a duplicate copy with the office of the County Clerk (Local Political Committee).
- An individual or group of individuals supporting or opposing a question of public policy to be submitted to the voters in more than one county will file all required documents with the Illinois State Board of Elections. A question of public policy submitted to the voters in one county requires that all original documents be filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections and a duplicate copy with the office of the County Clerk.
Forming a Committee
Because the law prohibits the commingling of campaign funds with any personal funds of officers, members or associates of a political committee, the need to open a separate segregated bank account is a first step in forming a political committee. The financial institution may request that the political committee apply for an employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service when opening a campaign account. This procedure eliminates the use of an individual's social security number attached to a campaign account that may result in a personal tax liability. To obtain an application for an employer identification number, form SS-4, or assistance, contact the IRS. (877.829.5500)
The law requires that every political committee have a chairman and a treasurer. It is possible that the same person can hold both positions at the same time. Financial transactions of the political committee cannot take place when a vacancy occurs in the office of either the chairman or the treasurer. Any change in the office of chairman or treasurer must be reported within ten days. Also, no expenditure can be made without the authorization of the chairman or treasurer.
What Types of Reports Are Required and When Do I File?
All political committees are required to report their financial activity on official forms distributed by the Illinois State Board of Elections. Alternative methods of reporting, i.e., computer generated, must have prior written authorization. The Form D-2, Report of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures, will be the official form used by political committees to disclose receipts, expenditures, debts, and fund balances.
There is one main type of report filed using the Form D-2: Quarterly Report; but there are also two other important filings to be aware of: Schedule A-1 and Schedule B-1.
- Quarterly Reports are filed every three months, requiring a political committee to disclose its financial activity during the reporting periods January 1 through March 31, April 1 through June 30, July 1 through September 30, and October 1 through December 31. Each report is due fifteen days after the close of the reporting period: April 15, July 15, October 15 and January 15.
- Schedule A-1 (Campaign Contributions of $1000 or more) and Schedule B-1 (Independent Expenditures or $1000 or more) shall be filed electronically.
Visit the State Board of Elections website for additional information about campaign disclosure and for other candidate information, or contact the Lake County Clerk's office at 847.377.2407.