Candidates may loan their personal funds for campaign purposes. When they do so, they are making contributions to their campaigns. Unlike other contributions, these candidate contributions are not subject to any limits but are subject to additional reporting. Moreover, timing restrictions apply to the repayment of personal loans aggregating more than $250,000 for an election.
Not considered the candidate's personal funds
Personal gifts and loans
If any person, including a relative or friend of the candidate, gives or loans the candidate money “for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office,” the funds are not considered personal funds of the candidate even if they are given to the candidate directly. Instead, the gift or loan is considered a contribution from the donor to the campaign, subject to the per-election limit and reportable by the campaign. This is true even if the candidate uses the funds for personal living expenses while campaigning.
Bank loans used in connection with campaign
Bank loans are not considered contributions from the bank if they comply with FEC regulations on bank loans.
When a candidate obtains a bank loan for use in connection with his or her campaign, the loan is considered to be from the bank and not from the candidate’s personal funds. The candidate is acting as the agent of the campaign.
Forgiving personal loans
The candidate may choose to forgive all or a part of a loan from his or her personal funds to the campaign. The candidate must file a signed statement indicating that he or she forgives the loan.
Repaying personal loans
For personal loans (including advances of personal funds or endorsements of bank loans to the committee) from the candidate to his or her authorized committee made on or after November 6, 2002, that aggregate more than $250,000, the following rules apply separately to the primary and general elections:
- The committee may use contributions to repay the candidate for the entire amount of the loan or loans only if those contributions were made on or before the day of the election; and
- The committee may use contributions to repay the candidate only up to $250,000 of the personal loans from contributions made after the date of the election.
Furthermore, if the committee uses the amount of cash on hand as of the date of the election to repay the candidate for loans in excess of $250,000, it must do so within 20 days of the election. During that time, the committee must treat the portion of candidate loans that exceed $250,000, minus the amount of cash on hand as of the day after the election, as a contribution by the candidate.
Note that a runoff election has a separate limit for purposes of FEC regulations. For example, if a candidate loaned the committee $345,000 for the primary election, the committee could repay the candidate up to $250,000 from contributions made after the date of the primary election. Similarly, if the candidate loaned $300,000 for a primary runoff election, the committee could repay the candidate up to $250,000 from contributions made after the date of the runoff election.