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Handling a questionable contribution

Within 10 days of receiving a contribution that appears to be excessive or prohibited, the committee treasurer must either return the contribution or deposit it.

Determining legality

The committee treasurer is responsible for examining all contributions to ensure that they are neither prohibited nor excessive. In order to determine whether a contribution exceeds the contributor’s limit, the contribution must be aggregated with any others made by the contributor to the committee or its affiliates during the calendar year.

If it is deposited, the treasurer must:

  • Keep enough money in the committee’s account to cover the potential refund or establish a separate account for such contributions.
  • Keep a record explaining why the contribution may be illegal and include this explanation on Schedule A if the contribution has to be itemized before its legality is established.
  • In the case of an excessive contribution, obtain a reattribution of the excessive portion or refund it to the contributor.
  • In the case of a possibly prohibited contribution, confirm its legality or refund it.

Prohibited contributions

Questionable source

If a committee treasurer deposits a contribution that appears to come from a prohibited source, he or she has 30 days from the date of the contribution’s receipt to:

As evidence of legality, the treasurer should obtain a written statement from the contributor explaining why the contribution is legal. Alternatively, the treasurer may obtain an oral explanation by telephone and keep a written record of the conversation.

Late discovery of prohibited contribution

If a treasurer discovers that a previously deposited contribution came from a prohibited source, he or she must refund the contribution within 30 days of making the discovery. This situation might arise, for example, if the treasurer learned that a past contribution was made by a foreign national.

If the committee does not have sufficient funds to refund the contribution when the illegality is discovered, the treasurer must use the next funds the committee receives.

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