In general, funds may be transferred between authorized committees of the same candidate (for example, from a previous campaign to a current campaign committee) without limit as long as the committee making the transfer has no net debts outstanding. This section covers when committees can make or receive transfers from other authorized committees of the candidate.
Keep in mind that not all receipts or disbursements to other committees are transfers. The following are not transfers:
- Contributions to or from other candidates (federal or nonfederal)
- Contributions to or from PACs
- Contributions from party committees, although an authorized committee may make unlimited transfers to party committees
Transfers between a candidate’s committees for the same office
Transferring in the same election
Funds and assets may be transferred without limit between a candidate’s principal campaign committee and the candidate’s other authorized committees for the same office during the same election. However, an authorized committee may not transfer funds to another authorized committee of the same candidate if the transferring committee has net debts outstanding.
Transferring between primary and general election campaigns in the same election cycle
Funds that went unused in the primary election may be transferred without limit to a candidate’s general election campaign.
Transferring between different election cycles
Funds and assets may be transferred without limit between committees authorized by a candidate for the same office in different elections as long as the transferring committee does not have net debts outstanding. Note that, for the purposes of the contribution limits , contributions transferred from the previous campaign to the current campaign must be aggregated with contributions by the same contributors to the current campaign only if the transferred contributions were originally made:
- After the previous election was held; or
- After the candidate withdrew or otherwise ceased to be a candidate in the previous election.
An individual ceases to be a candidate in an election as of the earlier of the following dates: the date on which the candidate publicly announces that he or she will no longer be a candidate in that election for that office and ceases to conduct campaign activities with respect to that election; or the date on which the candidate is or becomes ineligible for nomination or election to that office by operation of law.
Transfers between a candidate’s committees for more than one office
Transferring in the same election cycle
When an individual seeks election to more than one federal office during the same election cycle or overlapping election cycles, he or she must establish separate principal campaign committees and must maintain completely separate campaign organizations. Contributors also have separate limits with respect to the separate campaigns of the same candidate. Special transfer rules apply to transfers between these committees.
Prohibited while "actively seeking" more than one office
No transfers of funds or assets may be made between a candidate’s separate campaign committees while the candidate is "actively seeking" more than one office at the same time.
Additional rules prohibit any transfers to or from a campaign account of a presidential candidate who has accepted public financing, regardless of the timing or amount of the transfer.
Definition of no longer "actively seeking"
Under FEC rules, a candidate is no longer "actively seeking" nomination or election to a particular office once he or she:
- Becomes ineligible for nomination or election to that office by operation of law;
- Publicly announces that he or she is withdrawing from one race and ceases to campaign for that election, other than fundraising to retire outstanding debts;
- Has filed a termination report; or
- Has notified the Commission in writing that his or her campaign will conduct no further activities with respect to that election, other than fundraising to retire outstanding debts.
Guidelines for transfers when no longer “actively seeking” multiple offices
Once a candidate is no longer “actively seeking” election to more than one federal office, transfers between the two campaigns are permissible, within the following guidelines:
- The transferor committee’s available funds should be viewed as those contributions most recently received that add up to the amount of the transfer from cash-on-hand.
- The transferor committee must be able to demonstrate that such cash-on-hand contains sufficient funds at the time of the transfer that comply with the limitations and prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act to cover the amount transferred.
- Contributions transferred must be aggregated with any contributions made by the same contributor to the committee receiving the transfer. Amounts that would cause a contributor to exceed his or her per-election contribution limit must be excluded from the transfer (the funds available for transfer would be reduced by such amounts).
Note that the recipient committee will need to identify the contributors whose contributions are included in the transfer by using memo entries.
Transferring in different election cycles
When an individual seeks different offices in different election cycles, surplus funds from the earlier campaign that remain after the general election may be transferred to the later campaign without aggregating the contributions of the original contributor to the two committees.
Transfers from a candidate’s nonfederal committee
A candidate’s authorized (federal) committee may not accept funds or assets transferred from a committee established by the same candidate for a nonfederal election campaign. At its option, however, a nonfederal committee of the same candidate may refund its leftover funds to its contributors and may coordinate arrangements with the federal campaign for a solicitation of those same persons. The full cost of this solicitation must be paid by the federal committee.
Transfers of joint fundraising receipts
Transfers of receipts raised in compliance with joint fundraising procedures are unlimited. A committee receiving such a transfer must not only report the total amount transferred, but must also itemize, as necessary, its share of gross proceeds as contributions from the original contributors.