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FEC Record: Reporting

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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
In addition to publishing this article, the Commission notifies committees of filing deadlines on its website, via its automated Faxline and through reporting reminders called prior notices. Prior notices are distributed exclusively by electronic mail. For that reason, it is important that every committee update its Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) to disclose a current e-mail address. To amend Form 1, electronic filers must submit Form 1 filled out in its entirety. Paper filers should include only the committee’s name, address, FEC identification number and the updated or changed portions of the form.

Treasurer’s Responsibilities
The Commission provides reminders of upcoming filing dates as a courtesy to help committees comply with the filing deadlines set forth in the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations. Committee treasurers must comply with all applicable filing deadlines established by law, and the lack of prior notice does not constitute an excuse for failing to comply with any filing deadline. Accordingly, reports filed by methods other than Registered, Certified or Overnight Mail (see below), or electronically, must be received by the Commission’s (or the Secretary of the Senate’s) close of business on the deadline, or, if the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the close of business on the last business day before the deadline.

Late Filing
The Federal Election Campaign Act does not permit the Commission to grant extensions of filing deadlines under any circumstances. Filing late reports may result in enforcement action by the Commission. The Commission pursues compliance actions against late filers and nonfilers under the Administrative Fine program and on a case-by-case basis. For more information on the Administrative Fine program, visit the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/af/af.shtml.

Filing Electronically
Under the Commission’s mandatory electronic filing regulations, individuals and organizations that receive contributions or make expenditures, including independent expenditures, in excess of $50,000 in a calendar year—or have reason to expect to do so—must file all reports and statements with the FEC electronically. [fn1] Reports filed electronically must be received and validated by the Commission by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard/Daylight Time on the applicable filing deadline. Electronic filers who instead file on paper or submit an electronic report that does not pass the Commission’s validation program by the filing deadline will be considered nonfilers and may be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative fines. 11 CFR 104.18(e).

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 8.0.1.5 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 8.0.1.5. 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.

Timely Filing for Paper Filers

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
All committees must file a 2011 year-end report due January 31, 2012. The coverage and reporting dates are found at http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates_2011.shtml.

Reports Covering 2012 Activity
To find out which reports your committee must file in 2012, check the Guide to 2012 Reporting. Then check the bulleted links to tables for various categories of reporting dates. Please note that committees active in special elections in 2012 may have to file additional special election reports, as explained below. All FEC reporting dates are also available on the Commission’s website at http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates.shtml.

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
State, district and local party committees that engage in reportable “federal election activity” must file on a monthly schedule. 11 CFR 300.36(c)(1). Committees that do not engage in reportable “federal election activity” may file on a quarterly basis in 2012. 11 CFR 104.5(c)(1)(i).

National Party Committees
National committees of political parties must file on a monthly schedule in all years. 2 U.S.C. §434(a)(4)(B) and 11 CFR 104.5(c)(4).

Political Action Committees
PACs (separate segregated funds and nonconnected committees) that filed on a semi-annual basis during 2011 must file on a quarterly basis in 2012. Monthly filers continue on the monthly schedule. PACs may change their filing schedule, but must first notify the Commission in writing. Electronic filers must file this request electronically. A committee may change its filing frequency only once a year, and after giving notice of change in filing frequency to the Commission and receiving an approval notice, all future reports must follow the new filing frequency. 11 CFR 104.5(c).

Pre- and Post-Election Reports
Please note that in 2012, party committees and PACs that file monthly reports must file a pre-general election report and a post-general election report in lieu of the reports otherwise due in November and December. Party committees and PACs that file quarterly reports also file:

  • A pre-primary election report and a pre-general election report before any election in which the committee makes a contribution to or an expenditure on behalf of a candidate in that election, if not previously disclosed; and
  • A post-general election report.

Where to File
Committee treasurers must file campaign finance reports with the appropriate federal office, as discussed below. State filing requirements also apply to campaign finance reports filed by the principal campaign committees of candidates seeking office in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands and to reports filed by PACs and party committees that support these candidates. 2 U.S.C. §439(a)(2)(B).

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).

Independent Expenditures
Political committees and other entities that make independent expenditures at any time during the calendar year—up to and including the 20th day before an election (including a special election)—are required to disclose this activity within 48 hours each time that the expenditures aggregate $10,000 or more per election. This reporting requirement is in addition to the requirement to file 24-hour reports of independent expenditures each time disbursements for independent expenditures aggregate or exceed $1,000 per election during the last 20 days—up to 24 hours—before an election (including a special election). Note that aggregations of independent expenditures must be calculated as of the first date on which a communication that constitutes an independent expenditure is publicly disseminated, and as of the date that any such communication with respect to the same election is subsequently publicly disseminated. 2 U.S.C. §§434(b), (d) and (g) and 11 CFR 100.19(d), 104.4(b), (c) and (f) and 109.10(c) and (d).

Political committees must use FEC Form 3X, Schedule E, to file 48- and 24-hour reports. Persons and other entities that are not political committees must use FEC Form 5.

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
Committees authorized by candidates running in any 2012 special election must file pre- and post-election reports in addition to the quarterly reports. 11 CFR 104.5(h). They are also required to comply with the 48-hour notice requirement for any contribution of $1,000 or more per source (including loans) received shortly before an election. See 11 CFR 104.5(f).

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.

Electioneering Communications
Additionally, individuals and other persons who make disbursements for “electioneering communications” that aggregate in excess of $10,000 must file disclosure statements with the Commission within 24 hours of distribution of the communications to the public. See 11 CFR 100.29. A chart detailing the electioneering communication periods for 2012 Congressional and Presidential primary and runoff elections is available on the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/info/charts_ec_dates_2012.shtml.

Disclosure of Lobbyist Bundling Activity
Campaign committees, party committees and leadership PACs that are otherwise required to file reports in connection with an election (including special elections) must simultaneously file FEC Form 3L if they receive two or more bundled contributions from any lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC that aggregate in excess of the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold during the election reporting period. 11 CFR 104.22(a)(5)(v).

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)

FOOTNOTES:

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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The FEC Record is produced by the Information Division, Office of Communications. Toll free 800-424-9530; Local 202-694-1100; E-mail info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Amy Kort, Asst. Director; Dorothy Yeager, Editor