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Winding down costs

Campaign funds may be used to pay ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with one’s duties as a federal officeholder. Such expenses include the costs of winding down the office of a former federal officeholder for a period of six months after he or she leaves office. Winding down costs include the following:

Moving expenses: A retiring federal officeholder may use campaign funds to pay for the expenses of moving office and personal furnishings from the congressional office in Washington, DC, back to the officeholder’s home state. While the costs of transporting an officeholder’s personal household effects and furnishings from Washington, DC, to the officeholder’s home state are not “winding down costs,” such costs are considered a permissible use of campaign funds as “ordinary and necessary expenses” incurred in connection with ending his or her duties as a federal officeholder. All such moving expenses should be reported as “other disbursements” by the officeholder’s committee, with specific payee(s) and purpose noted.

Payments to committee staff: Read Commission advisory opinions AO 1976-90 and AO 1978-43.

Gifts: Campaign funds may be used to purchase gifts or make donations of nominal value to persons other than the members of the candidate’s family.

Other permissible uses of excess campaign funds include:

  • Donations to charitable organizations defined in 26 U.S.C. § 170(c), unless the candidate receives compensation from the organization before the organization has expended the entire amount donated for purposes unrelated to the candidate’s personal benefit.
  • Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local political party committee;
  • Donations to state and local candidates, pursuant to state law; and
  • Any other lawful purpose, unless such use is personal use.

Publicly funded presidential candidate committees

For publicly funded presidential candidate committees, winding down costs are "qualified campaign expenses" as defined at 11 CFR 9032.9. They include costs associated with the termination of political activity related to a candidate's seeking his or her nomination for election, such as the costs of complying with the post-election requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account Act (primary public funding), and the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act (general election public funding). They also include other necessary administrative costs associated with winding down the campaign, including office space rental, staff salaries, and office supplies.

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