A person who collects contributions on behalf of a nonconnected committee must not commingle them with personal funds. Instead, he or she must forward the contributions, together with the appropriate recordkeeping information about the contributors to the committee treasurer within the following time periods:
- Contributions of $50 or less: Within 30 days after receiving the funds.
- Contributions of more than $50: Within 10 days after receiving the funds.
All contributions, regardless of amount, must be deposited in a committee bank or credit union account within 10 days of the treasurer’s receipt.
Records needed for reporting receipts
With respect to receipts, the Federal Election Campaign Act only requires that records be kept for contributions. Nevertheless, committees are advised to keep records for all types of receipts in order to comply with the reporting requirements.
For each receipt, a committee should record the following information:
- Amount received;
- Date of receipt; and
- Name and address of source.
Date of receipt
The “date of receipt” of a contribution is the date on which a person receiving the contribution on behalf of the committee obtains possession of it. That date is the date used for recordkeeping and reporting of receipts.
The date of receipt may be earlier than the date the committee treasurer receives the money, since a person collecting contributions has several days in which to forward them to the treasurer.
Credit card receipts
When the committee receives contributions through credit card charges, the date of receipt is the date on which the committee receives the contributor’s signed authorization to charge the contribution or on the date the contributor’s credit card account is charged. The treasurer should retain a copy of the authorization form in the committee’s records.
Deposit of receipts
Once the treasurer receives a contribution, he or she must deposit it within 10 days. Contributions not deposited within 10 days must be returned to their donors.
Contributions from individuals and from groups other than political committees must be recorded as follows:
Contributions aggregating over $200
For each contribution that exceeds $200, either by itself or when aggregated with (i.e., added to) previous contributions from the same donor to the committee during the same calendar year, records must identify the following information:
- Date of receipt;
- Donor’s full name and address; and
- Donor’s occupation and employer.
Contributions of more than $50
Records must identify each contribution exceeding $50 by noting the following:
- Date of receipt; and
- Donor’s full name and address. In addition to any other recordkeeping requirements, committees must retain a full-size photocopy or digital image of the check for any contribution over $50.
Contributions of $50 or less
The Commission recommends two possible accounting methods:
- Keep the same records as those required for contributions that exceed $50; or
- In the case of small contributions collected at a fundraising event (such as gate receipts, cash contributions, etc.), keep a record of the name of the event, the date and the total amount of contributions received on each day of the event.
Contributions from political committees
Committee records must identify all contributions from political committees regardless of amount by noting the amount, date of receipt and the name and address of the contributing committee.
Documenting a contribution’s legality
In order to determine whether a contribution of questionable legality was made by a permissible source and was not excessive, the treasurer must make at least one written or oral request for evidence of the contribution’s legality. If the contribution cannot be determined to be legal, the treasurer must refund the contribution to the source within 30 days of receiving it.
A committee must keep a written record noting the basis for concern for each deposited contribution that:
- Requires a written reattribution from the contributor; or
- Requires confirmation that it is not from a prohibited source.
Joint fundraising receipts
With regard to gross proceeds, the joint fundraising representative must collect the following contributor information and later forward it to the participating political committees:
- For contributions exceeding $50, the amount, date of receipt and the contributor’s name and address.
- For contributions exceeding $200, the amount, date of receipt and the contributor’s name, address, occupation and employer.
The date of receipt is the date the joint fundraising representative receives the contribution.
Treasurer’s best efforts
Nonconnected committees and their treasurers must make best efforts to obtain, maintain and report the information required by law with respect to itemized receipts.
When reporting information is incomplete, the committee and the treasurer will be in compliance with the law if they can demonstrate that they used “best efforts” in trying to obtain and report the required information. The criteria for making “best efforts” vary, depending on the type of transaction, as explained.
If an individual who has contributed more than $200 during the calendar year fails to provide the required recordkeeping information (i.e., name, mailing address, occupation and employer), the committee must be able to show that it made “best efforts” to obtain and report that information. To demonstrate “best efforts,” the committee must be able to show that it requested the information— first, in the solicitation materials that prompted the contribution and, second, in a follow-up request.
Furthermore, if the requested information is not received until after the contribution has been reported, the committee must report the information using one of the procedures described under “File amendments if necessary.”
To satisfy the “best efforts” standard, solicitation materials must include an accurate and clear statement of the law’s requirements for the collection and reporting of contributor information. The following examples are acceptable wording that may be included in the solicitations (other statements of similar meaning may also be used):
- “Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year;” or
- “To comply with federal law, we must use best efforts to obtain, maintain and submit the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 per calendar year.”
The request and the statement must appear in a clear and conspicuous manner on any response material included in a solicitation. The request and statement will not be considered to be “clear and conspicuous” if:
- The request and statement are printed in smaller type than the solicitation and response materials;
- The printing is difficult to read; or
- The request and statement are placed where they may be easily overlooked.
Follow-up request within 30 days
If the contributor does not provide sufficient reporting information when making a contribution, the committee must make at least one request for the information after the contribution is received. This follow-up request must be made for any solicited or unsolicited contribution that exceeds the $200 threshold and lacks the necessary information (see “Contributions aggregating over $200”).
The request must be made within 30 days of receipt of the contribution; it may not include an additional solicitation or material on any other subject, but it may thank the contributor. The follow-up request may be made orally or in writing, but a written request must be accompanied by a pre-addressed envelope for the response. Requests made by telephone must be documented in a memorandum. Committees must retain records of follow-up requests.
Use of information from prior records
If the contributor does not respond to the follow-up request, but the committee possesses the information in its contributor records, fundraising records or prior reports filed during the same election cycle, then the committee must use that information when disclosing the contribution.
File amendments if necessary
If requested information about a contribution is received after the contribution has been disclosed on a report, the committee must either:
- File a memo Schedule A with its next regularly scheduled report, listing all contributions for which new contributor information has been received; or
- File amendments to the original reports.
In either case, the entries must cross-reference to the prior reports to which they relate. However, the committee is only required to submit the information for contributions received during the current two-year election cycle.
Recording other receipts
The FEC recommends that committees keep records on the following receipts in order to fully comply with reporting requirements:
- Transfers from affiliated committees;
- Bank loans;
- Interest and dividends received on invested committee funds; and
- Repayments on loans made by the committee.
Committee records should contain the full name of the source and the date and amount of each receipt.