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Kelly Huff
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Testing the Waters and Campaign Committees

 

 

 

What is the difference between a campaign committee and a testing the waters fund?

An individual who merely tests the waters, but does not campaign for office, does not have to register or report as a candidate.  Therefore, while a campaign committee files disclosure reports, a testing the waters fund does not have to file reports until the candidacy is established.  At this point, all testing the waters activities must be disclosed on the next scheduled FEC report.  A testing the waters fund abides by the same contribution limits and prohibitions as a campaign committee.  There are activities that indicate that an individual is campaigning and, therefore no longer testing the waters.  Among these are:

  • Making statements that refer to yourself as a candidate;
  • Using advertising to publicize your intention to campaign; or
  • Taking action to qualify for the ballot.

If someone is testing the waters and decides not to run, testing the waters activity is not disclosed to the FEC.   However, the contribution limits and prohibitions apply whether or not the individual decides to run.

Can candidates transfer money left over from a previous federal campaign to their presidential campaign?

Yes.  FEC regulations permit an unlimited transfer of funds from the previous campaign of a federal candidate to the current campaign.  For example, if a candidate has funds left over from a 2006 House or Senate campaign, he or she can transfer those funds without limit to a 2008 Presidential campaign.  Candidates who accept primary matching funds may not receive transfers after they agree to accept matching funds.  Contributors who gave to the 2006 race can also give to the 2008 race.  However, if the previous campaign has debts, then transfers are not permitted.

Can candidates transfer money from their state campaign funds to their campaign committees?

No.  Transfers from candidates’ state campaign account to their federal campaign account are prohibited.

Can a candidate’s Leadership PAC transfer unlimited funds to a candidate’s campaign?

No.  A federal Leadership PAC may only contribute up to $5,000 per election to a federal campaign.

When will campaigns committees file reports?

In 2007, campaign committees will be filing quarterly (April 15, July 15, October 15, and January 31).  Committees that were registered with the FEC by December 31, 2006, will file a Year End report that is due on January 31, 2007.  Presidential Campaigns that raise or spend more than $50,000 are required to file electronically.  Electronically filed reports are posted on the FEC website within seconds of receipt.  Committees have until 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) of the due date to file their report.  Click here for electronically filed reports.  Click here for the 2007 reporting schedule.

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