This article answers frequently asked questions about the duties and responsibilities of political committee treasurers. Under FEC regulations, a committee’s treasurer is personally responsible for carrying out his or her duties as treasurer. Thus, it is important that treasurers understand these duties before taking them on.
Duties of the treasurer
According to the Federal Election Campaign Act and Commission regulations, a political committee must have a treasurer before it can accept contributions or make expenditures. 2 U.S.C. 432(a); 11 CFR 102.7(a) and (b). The treasurer is responsible for registering the committee, depositing receipts within 10 days, authorizing expenditures, monitoring contribution limits and prohibitions and signing and filing all reports and statements on time.
Although support staff, volunteers or professional consultants may perform these duties, the treasurer remains responsible for the committee's compliance with the Act. 11 CFR 104.14(d). If a committee's treasurer is absent, the committee cannot make expenditures or accept contributions unless it has designated an assistant treasurer or designated agent on the committee's Statement of Organization (Form 1). Committees are encouraged to name an assistant treasurer to fill any vacancies in the office of treasurer.
Treasurer's liability in enforcement actions
In enforcement actions brought against a committee, the Commission names as respondents both the committee and the committee treasurer, in his or her official capacity, even if the committee has incorporated for purposes of liability. Furthermore, the treasurer can be named and found liable in his or her personal capacity if he or she knowingly and willfully violates the Act, recklessly fails to fulfill duties imposed by the law, or intentionally deprives himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation. Even when an enforcement action alleges violations that occurred during the term of a previous treasurer, the Commission usually names the current treasurer as a respondent in the action. See Statement of Policy Regarding Treasurers, 70 Fed. Reg. 3 (January 3, 2005).
Treasurer's liability under administrative fine program
Similarly, when the Commission makes a final determination and assesses a civil penalty against a committee and its treasurer under the Administrative Fine Program, both the committee and the treasurer are liable for the fine. It is therefore important for treasurers to understand their obligations and responsibilities under the law. For more information, call the FEC's Information Division, 1-800-424-9530 (press 6 when prompted).