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Handling a questionable contribution to an SSF

If a committee treasurer deposits a contribution that appears to come from a prohibited source, he or she has 30 days to:

  • Confirm the legality of the contribution; or
  • Refund the contribution.

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 record of the conversation.

Contributions from incorporated practices of professional members

In advisory opinions, the Commission has permitted a membership organization, under certain circumstances, to use corporate contributions to pay for the expenses of operating the organization’s SSF. In these cases, individual members who had established corporations for their professional practices attempted to make contributions to the SSF from their corporate practice accounts. The SSF deposited these corporate contributions (which would otherwise have been prohibited) to the connected organization’s general treasury account or a separate administrative account for the SSF.

When depositing SSF contributions into an administrative account under these circumstances, the committee may wish to inform contributors of this use of their funds and give them an opportunity to ask for a refund.

Late discovery of prohibited contribution

If the 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 SSF does not have sufficient funds to refund the contribution to the donor when the illegality is discovered, the treasurer must use the committee’s next receipts.

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