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Reports Due in 2012
This article on filing requirements for 2012 is supplemented by the reporting tables linked at http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates_2012.shtml.
Notification of Filing Deadlines
Senate committees and other committees that file with the Secretary of the Senate are not subject to the mandatory electronic filing rules, but, in addition to their official report filed with the Secretary of the Senate, the committees may file an unofficial copy of their reports with the Commission in order to speed disclosure.
The Commission’s electronic filing software, FECFile, is free and can be downloaded from the FEC’s website. FECFile Version 22.214.171.124 is available for download from the FEC’s website at http://www.fec.gov/elecfil/updatelist.shtml. All reports filed after December 14, 2011, must be filed in Format Version 126.96.36.199. Reports filed in previous formats will not be accepted. Filers may also use commercial or privately developed software as long as the software meets the Commission’s format specifications, which are available on the Commission’s website. Committees using commercial software should contact their vendors for more information about the Commission’s latest software release.
Registered and Certified Mail. Reports sent by registered or certified mail must be postmarked on or before the mailing deadline to be considered timely filed. A committee sending its reports by certified or registered mail should keep its mailing receipt with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark as proof of filing because the USPS does not keep complete records of items sent by certified mail. See 2 U.S.C. §434(a)(5) and 11 CFR 100.19 and 104.5(e).
Overnight Mail. Reports filed via overnight mail [fn2] will be considered timely filed if the report is received by the delivery service on or before the mailing deadline. A committee sending its reports by Express or Priority Mail, or by an overnight delivery service, should keep its proof of mailing or other means of transmittal of its reports. See 2 U.S.C. §434(a)(5) and 11 CFR 104.5(e). See also, generally, 11 CFR 100.19.
Other Means of Filing. Reports sent by other means—including first class mail and courier—must be received by the FEC (or the Secretary of the Senate) before close of business on the filing deadline. See 11 CFR 100.19 and 104.5(e). Paper forms are available for downloading at the FEC’s website (http://www.fec.gov/info/forms.shtml) and from FEC Faxline, the agency’s automated fax system (202/501-3413). The 2012 Reporting Schedule is also available on the FEC’s website (http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates_2012.shtml), and from Faxline. For more information on reporting, call the FEC at 800/424-9530 or 202/694-1100.
Year-End Reports Covering 2011 Activity
Reports Covering 2012 Activity
Authorized Committees of Candidates
House and Senate Candidates. All campaigns that have a reporting obligation must file quarterly reports in 2012. Generally, an individual becomes a candidate for federal office, thus triggering registration and reporting obligations, when his or her campaign exceeds $5,000 in either contributions received or expenditures made. If the campaign has not exceeded the $5,000 threshold, it is not required to file reports. See 11 CFR 100.3(a)(1). See also 11 CFR 100.3(a)(2) and (3). The authorized committees of House and Senate candidates must also file pre-primary election and pre-general election reports before any election in which the candidate runs in 2012. These committees also must file a post-general election report if the candidate runs in the general election. 11 CFR 104.5(a)(2).
Principal campaign committees of candidates who ran in past elections or are running in future elections must also file quarterly reports in 2012. Before a committee can stop filing with the FEC, it must file a termination report with the Commission or the Secretary of the Senate, as appropriate. See 11 CFR 102.3. Committees must continue to file reports until the Commission notifies them in writing that their termination report has been accepted.
Presidential Candidates. All Presidential committees must file on either a monthly or a quarterly schedule in 2012. If on January 1, 2012, the committee has received or anticipates receiving contributions aggregating $100,000, or has made or anticipates making expenditures aggregating $100,000, the committee files monthly reports in 2012. Committees which do not anticipate or have not exceeded the $100,000 thresholds file quarterly reports in 2012. See 11 CFR 104.5(b)(1)(i) and (ii). Note that quarterly filers must also file a pre-election report for each election in which the candidate seeks nomination or election. See 11 CFR 104.5(b)(1)(ii).
Presidential committees able to change their reporting schedule and that wish to do so are required to notify the Commission in writing. 11 CFR 104.5(b)(2). Electronic filers must file this request electronically. After filing this notice of change in filing frequency with the Commission and receiving an approval notice from the Commission, all future reports must follow the new filing schedule. Please note that, as explained above, Presidential committees that have received contributions or made expenditures of $100,000 or more during the current presidential election cycle must file monthly reports in 2012. 11 CFR 104.5(b)(1)(i).
State, District and Local Party Committees
National Party Committees
Political Action Committees
Pre- and Post-Election Reports
Where to File
House Candidate Committees. Principal campaign committees of House candidates file with the FEC. 11 CFR 105.1.
Senate Candidate Committees. Principal campaign committees of Senate candidates file with the Secretary of the Senate. 11 CFR 105.2.
Presidential Committees. Principal campaign committees of Presidential candidates file with the FEC. 11 CFR 105.3.
Candidate Committees with More Than One Authorized Committee. If a campaign includes more than one authorized committee, the principal campaign committee files, with its own report, a consolidated report of receipts and disbursements (FEC Form 3Z) showing its own activity as well as the activity of all other authorized committees of the candidate. 11 CFR 104.3(f).
PACs and Party Committees.Generally, PACs and party committees file with the FEC. However, committees that support only Senate candidates file with the Secretary of the Senate, as do the national Senatorial campaign committees. 11 CFR 105.2 and 11 CFR 105.4.
Joint Fundraising Committees. Joint fundraising committees supporting only Senate candidates file with the Senate. All other joint fundraising committees file with the FEC. Please note that joint fundraising committees supporting only federal candidates file on Form 3 and follow the reporting schedule for authorized committees. 11 CFR 102.13(c). Joint fundraising committees supporting both federal candidates and other party or non-party political committees (such as PACs) file on Form 3X and follow the reporting schedule for unauthorized committees. 11 CFR 104.5(a) and (c).
Political committees must report independent expenditures that do not trigger the 48- or 24-hour reporting thresholds on their regularly scheduled campaign finance reports. These independent expenditure reports are not required when a party committee or PAC makes a contribution directly to a candidate.
Persons and other entities that are not political committees must disclose independent expenditures in a quarterly report filed on FEC Form 5 once the expenditures exceed $250 in a calendar year in connection with an election. 11 CFR 104.4(b)(1) and 109.10(b). Form 5 filers are not required to file quarterly reports for periods in which they have not made any independent expenditures. However, they must file quarterly reports for periods in which they made expenditures aggregating over $250 in a calendar year for a given election, regardless of whether or not they have already reported that activity in a 48- or 24-hour report.
For a chart of 2012 48- and 24-hour reporting periods for independent expenditures, consult the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/info/charts_ie_dates_2012.shtml.
All individuals, persons and committees, including Senate committees, must file their 24- and 48-hour reports and quarterly reports of independent expenditures with the Commission. 11 CFR 105.1 and 105.2. See also 11 CFR 104.4 and 109.10.
Committees Active in Special Elections
PACs and party committees supporting candidates running in special elections may also have to file pre- and post-election reports unless they file on a monthly basis. 11 CFR 104.5(c)(3) and 104.5(h). All PACs, as well as individuals, corporations, labor organizations and all other persons, are subject to 48- and 24-hour reporting of independent expenditures made before an election. See 11 CFR 104.4(b) and (c) and 104.5(g).
When time permits, the Record will alert committees to special election reporting dates.
Disclosure of Lobbyist Bundling Activity
The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold for calendar year 2011 was $16,200. This threshold amount may increase in 2012 based upon the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). As soon as the adjusted threshold amount is available, the Commission will publish it in the Federal Register and post it on its website. 11 CFR 104.22(g) and 110.17(e)(2). For more information on these requirements, see the March 2009 Record.
(Posted 01/06/12; By: Dorothy Yeager)
1 The regulation covers individuals and organizations required to file reports of contributions and/or expenditures with the Commission, including any person making an independent expenditure. 11 CFR 104.18(a). Disbursements for “electioneering communications” are not considered “expenditures” and thus do not count toward the $50,000 threshold for mandatory electronic filing. See 11 CFR 104.18(a).
2 “Overnight mail” includes Priority or Express Mail having a delivery confirmation, or an overnight service with which the report is scheduled for next business day delivery and is recorded in the service’s on-line tracking system.
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