- Campaign Finance Reporting
- Lobbyists & Liaisons Reporting
- Financial Disclosure
- Ethics Laws, Guides & Forms
- County, Municipal & School Reporting
- Agency Information & Continuing Education
State Candidate Committees Transitioning to New Committees
State candidates who are transferring to new state candidate committees may use the Transfer Checklist below to transition to a new state candidate committee. State candidates may transfer funds to another “state” committee only. A candidate may keep both the older candidate committee open for 60 days to make expenditures and transfers once the new committee is open. Only the new candidate committee can accept contributions. The Ethics Rules do not permit the transfer of campaign funds or debt for an office other than a state office, such as elective federal, county, municipal or school district offices. A candidate with a candidate committee for a state office who chose to seek an elective federal, county, municipal or school district office is required to dissolve his or her state candidate committee under other provisions of these Rules. (Rule 2.69 with Commission Comment)
Now that the 2016 campaign season is over, any candidate that has funds remaining in a 2016 candidate committee may use those funds for activities detailed in the surplus funds Ethics Rule. Those activities are:
1. Retain the funds for use in a future campaign for state office (excluding judicial office);
2. Donate the funds in any amount to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization;
3. Return the funds to any contributor, so long as you don’t give any contributor more money than they gave your 2016 campaign;
4. Contribute the funds to a political party committee in any amount not to exceed $25,000.
It’s important to remember that any surplus funds remaining in a candidate committee’s possession 90 days after the expiration of your term, or two years and 90 days following the general election for candidates who were not elected, shall be deposited in the general revenue fund of the state. So, if you have surplus funds remaining, it’s important to think about what you plan on doing with those funds.
One final note, the rules for 2014 candidate committees are similar, but have a few different rules. So, if you aren’t sure about the surplus funds rules for 2014 and earlier committees, make sure you call the Ethics Commission to get assistance in how to deal with surplus funds.
Blackout Period 2017
Beginning February 6, 2017 through five calendar days following sine die adjournment, the following actions are prohibited under Title 21 O.S. §187.1:
1. A lobbyist or lobbyist principal shall not:
a. make a campaign contribution to a member of the legislature or a candidate for state legislative office;
b. promise to make a campaign contribution for a member of the legislature or candidate for state legislative office; or
c. solicit a campaign contribution for a member of the legislature or candidate for state legislative office.
2. A member of the Legislature or a candidate for state legislative office shall not:
a. intentionally solicit a campaign contribution from a lobbyist or lobbyist principal; or
b. intentionally accept a campaign contribution from a lobbyist or lobbyist principal.
This statutory blackout period does not prevent a limited Political Action Committee (PAC) from making one or more contribution(s) to a candidate committee up to the limits allowed under the Ethics Rules provided the PAC is not represented by a lobbyist. See Attorney General Opinion, 2009-11. This does not mean a candidate committee is required to accept a PAC contribution during session. Whether or not to accept a permissible contribution during session is left to the discretion of the candidate committee.
The “Black Out Period” is not an Ethics Rule and is not enforced by the Ethics Commission. This is a criminal law statute that is enforced by the various district attorneys of Oklahoma or the Attorney General.
Lobbyist/Liaison Registration and Renewal Open for 2017
Lobbyists and liaisons (“Lobbyists”) who will lobby in calendar year 2017 must register from now through December 31, 2016 in The Guardian System. Lobbyists who are currently or have previously been registered in The Guardian System must log in to his/her Guardian System account and click the “renew registration” button. Lobbyists who have never been registered in The Guardian System will register using the “Registration” tab at http://guardian.ok.gov. Each lobbyist must pay a $100 annual registration/administration fee and a $100 registration/administration fee for each lobbyist principal (this includes state agencies) the lobbyist will represent for 2017. The lobbyist/liaison registration and renewals will not be accepted automatically. Please allow at least 48 hours for review. All renewals will be put into “conditional status” until the final 2016 report is filed between January 1-5, 2016 and any other pending fee payments or amendments are completed.
Lobbyist principals with more than one lobbyist. Special attention is needed when a lobbyist principal has more than one lobbyist. When a principal has multiple lobbyists the lobbyists will need to coordinate which lobbyist will pay the registration fee for that lobbyist principal. Only one lobbyist/liaison should pay the principal fee. Additionally, the lobbyists must ensure each lobbyist representing the principal uses the exact same name and registration number when the principal is registered with the Secretary of State. Many principals appear more than one time in the search results with variations in the name or registration number. If you represent a principal that is not registered with the Secretary of State, the lobbyists representing the principal must use the identical lobbyist principal name.
Entering Continuing Reports of Contributions or Contributions and Expenditure Reports for Independent Expenditure Reports or Electioneering Communications in the Guardian System
The last two weeks before an election are critical. When certain activity occurs, the Ethics Rules require reports to be filed within 24 hours or no later than the next business day. These reports are required when either contributions or expenditures meet certain criteria. To ensure these reports are filed timely, follow the directions below.
A Candidate Committee is required to file Continuing Reports of Contributions no later than 24 hours after receiving in excess of $1,000.00 from a single contributor during the last two weeks before an election.
Political Action Committees and Party Committees are required to file next business day reports detailing expenditures in excess of $5,000.00 for Independent Expenditures or Electioneering Communications in the last two weeks before an election.
If you generate a Continuing Report of Contributions or a Next Business Day Report in error, or have questions, please contact the Ethics Commission immediately.
The Election Is Over, Now What?
As the campaign season comes to a close, don’t forget to wind down your candidate committees. At this time, candidates can (1) dissolve the candidate committee or (2) transfer funds and/or debt to a future campaign.
Please review the following checklists to assist you in these processes. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly before taking any action. If you have any questions or need assistance with these processes, please call the Ethics Commission Staff at (405) 521-3451 or email us at email@example.com.
The Guardian Login Credentials
The Guardian System allows for different types of users with different levels of functionality. Upon registration each officer, candidate, and designated filing agent associated with a committee are automatically given user specific credentials to access the system. A designated filing agent is someone who is not a candidate nor a committee officer, who can file reports on behalf of the committee. A committee may have multiple filing agents so there is no need to share credentials.
Officers, Candidates, and Designated Filing Agents can all ADD data into the system and FILE reports on behalf of the Committee. They will all also receive information about upcoming deadlines, and late notices. The email addresses and phone numbers for these individuals need to be accurate and updated as necessary. The contact information assists the Ethics Commission as they communicate with the actual users of the system and those who file the reports.
In addition, if your committee requires users to have access just to enter Data but not to file reports you can utilize Data Entry Users. Data entry users can enter data but not FILE reports. To add someone as a Data Entry User, you must contact the Ethics Commission.
Top 10 Lists. The Commission keeps statistics on campaigns and lobbyist gifts that are updated daily in the Quick Stats section of The Guardian System. These lists are provided to present helpful information to the public. These lists identify committees that have raised the most contributions, spent the most funds, available funds on hand, and information on lobbyist gifts. Click here to view available lists in The Guardian System.
Resolution of Erroneous Expenditure or an Improper Contribution
Committees that recognize there is an error on their reports, have accepted a contribution in error or made an expenditure in error need to take corrective action as quickly as possible.
Candidate Committee 24 Hour Continuing Reports of Contributions [CRC Report]
All candidate committees are required to file a pre-election report, which details contributions and expenditures received through the period ending two weeks before an election. The two weeks before an election are critical; therefore, it is during this time that additional reports, called Continuing Reports of Contributions (CRC), are required to be filed within 24 hours of accepting one or more contributions from a single contributor that exceed $1,000 total.
It is to the committee’s benefit to enter contributions in The Guardian System when they are received so that the system can trigger the warning before the CRC report is due.
When a contribution or contributions exceed $1,000 in the aggregate from one contributor, it is entered into The Guardian System during the CRC reporting period. The system will notify the committee that the report has been triggered. The notice states: “This contribution qualifies as a major contribution that must be filed on a Continuing Report of Contributions. If one has not already been scheduled, it will be added to your filing schedule upon clicking the 'Continue' button below.” You will click continue to add the contribution to your contributions grid. The additional report will appear under the “Filings” tab, just like any other report. There will be a view/file link for you to click to view and file the report. This report must be filed within 24 hours of receipt of a contribution that exceeds $1,000 from a single source.
Late filing fees for Continuing Reports of Contributions by candidate committees are $200 each day for five days for a maximum fee of $1,000.
If a committee makes an entry that triggers a CRC report in error, please contact the Ethics Commission immediately for assistance.
Attention Political Party Committees
• State political party committees pay annual administration fees in July and, in odd-numbered years, also file an updated Statement of Organization. These State level party committees make quarterly contribution and expenditure reports year round. Additional reports may be required when independent expenditures and electioneering communications are made between quarterly reporting periods prior to an election. All reports will be filed electronically in The Guardian System.
• All other political party committees (congressional district, county, precinct and any other recognized party committee) shall register and file one or more reports in a calendar year when the committee (1) makes a contribution to a state candidate, (2) makes an electioneering communication, or (3) makes an independent expenditure. All reports will be filed electronically in The Guardian System.
Full names, addresses, and registration numbers required when reporting PAC’s contributions
Contributions from political action committees (PACs) must be reported using the PACs full name—not an acronym. The receiving committee must also include the address of the PAC and any assigned registration number. When reporting the contribution, if a PAC is not in the dropdown menu of PACs registered in The Guardian System, then the receiving committee must find out the PAC’s full name, address, and any assigned registration number.
Most PACs that are not registered in Oklahoma will be registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and will have an assigned registration number. The registration number can be found at www.fec.gov. NOTE: Before January 1, 2015 PACs registered with the FEC were required to be registered with the Ethics Commission and were assigned a state specific number. PACs registered with the FEC are no longer required to register in Oklahoma. Make sure the “ID” number reported to the Commission is the FEC number and not the old Ethics Commission number. PACs that are registered in another state may have a registration number assigned in the state the PAC registered. The receiving committee is required to report the registration number of the committee of an out of state PAC if one has been assigned. Committees can look up the registration numbers where the committee is registered, or, contact the PAC directly to find out their information.
Setting up a Depository/Candidate Committee Bank Account
Your bank may require a Tax ID number to set up your Committee Bank Account/Depository. If so, go to www.irs.gov for information on how to apply for a Tax ID number. The bank also may require a copy of your Statement of Organization. If your committee is registered in The Guardian System, that can be found on your “Filings” tab under Filing History and Committee Registration. It can also be found without logging in using the public search feature. As a reminder the full committee name must be the name on the account and the full committee name and ethics number must be on the checks. A committees ethics number is assigned at the time of registration. This number is part of your username used to login to the system. This number can also be found on by logging into the committee’s account on The Guardian System or without logging into The Guardian System by using the public search feature to look up the Committee.
Online Fund-raising is permitted through online payment systems such as PayPal, GoFundMe, etc., but you must obtain information to comply with contributor reporting requirements. If using online fund-raising systems, you must obtain from every contributor the following information for reporting:
Many of the online fund-raising systems allow you to customize the information submitted by a contributor to obtain the required information. If the systems do not allow you obtain the required information, it may not be used for fund-raising. The entire amount paid by the contributor before deducting any fees must be reported as the contribution. The fees paid to the fund-raising system are reported as an expenditure by the committee. For example, if Sam makes a contribution to Candidate Jones for $100 on GoFundMe and GoFundMe keeps $5 as a processing fee, then Candidate Jones will report a $100 contribution from Sam and a $5 expenditure to GoFundMe.
To make reporting processing fees easier you are not required to report each individual processing fee. Instead, you may report processing fees as a lump sum total for an entire month or reporting period. For example, if you paid $85 total in processing fees to PayPal during the first quarter for 25 different contributions, you can report the $85 amount as one single expenditure to PayPal for processing fees for the quarter.
Campaign Funds and Mileage Reimbursement
Under limited circumstances, candidates for state office and elected state officers may reimburse themselves from campaign funds for mileage for use of their private motor vehicles.
Candidates or elected officers who use their personal motor vehicles for campaign purposes or for unreimbursed officeholder purposes should keep a contemporaneous record of such uses. The record, or log, should include a point to point description of the miles traveled (e.g., Anytown to Sometown, 48 miles round-trip) and the purpose of the travel (e.g., meeting with directors of Sometown Civic Improvement Association), as well as the date on which the expense was incurred. Trying to construct such a log later may fail the requirement of Ethics Rule 2.73 that the candidate’s campaign committee treasurer keep the committee’s “financial records and accounts, including but not limited to all contributions accepted; all deposit slips or other evidence of acceptance of contributions; all expenditures made; all receipts, canceled checks or other evidence of payment of expenditures and all other documents necessary to file Reports of Contributions and Expenditures.”
The Ethics Rules provide specific instructions for how such expenses may be reimbursed. Purchasing gasoline with campaign funds is not permitted, subject to the exception in Ethics Rule 2.45(A).
Ethics Rule 2.45 provides the basis for calculating travel expenditures, including use of motor vehicles. In part, Rule 2.45 reads:
Expenditures for travel shall be calculated as provided in this section.
Thus, expenditures for “gas” could be made “only if the motor vehicle is used exclusively for purposes of the campaign or for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the candidate’s duties as the holder of a state elective off and for no other purpose at any time.”
If a motor vehicle is used for any other purpose---even if it also is used for campaign or officeholder purposes---the correct way to make expenditures is by paying for mileage calculated at the reimbursement rate authorized under the State Travel Reimbursement Act. A contemporaneous record of the travel should be used to support the reimbursement.
Reporting Contributions from a Joint Checking Account such as a Married Couple
All contribution limits are based on individual limits and must be reported as coming from a single individual, not couples. When you receive a check from a “couple,” contact the contributors and determine whether the contribution should be reported as: (1) coming from only one individual or (2) split between the couple and reported as two separate individual contributions. For option (2) you will also need to know how much to attribute to each individual.
Example: You receive a check from John and Jill Doe for $2,000.00, John Doe has signed the check, you need to either get the information from Mr. Doe when you receive the check, in person, or contact him to find out how he would like the contribution recorded. If he wants it split between John and Jill you will need to get the required information to report each name, address, occupation and employer for John for $1,000 and Jill for $1,000. If John wants the entire amount attributed to him, you will have only one entry for John Doe for $2,000.
Filing in the Guardian
Candidates, committees, lobbyist or liaisons may enter data at any time during the reporting periods daily, weekly or monthly. The Guardian system is available 24/7. The ability to actually file a report however is only available during the filing period which will not begin until the time period covered by the report has ended (no early filing). All reports are due no later than the last day of the filing period even if that day is on a holiday or weekend so filers will want to plan ahead. The system allows for a committee, lobbyist or liaison to add/delete a designated filing agent at any time. A designated filing agent will be issued a username and password to access the account and file any necessary reports. This allows candidates, committees, lobbyists and liaisons avoid missing a deadline. Also, as a courtesy report due reminders are automatically sent to the candidates, officers, lobbyist or liaisons and their designated filers by The Guardian System. A notice is also sent the day after the report is due if a report hasn't been filed. Let the system work for you to avoid late reports and costly late filing fees.
No lobbyist or lobbyist principal may make or promise to make a campaign contribution to, or solicit or promise to solicit a contribution for a member of the Legislature or a candidate for state legislative office during any regular legislative session, beginning the first Monday in February, through its adjournment and for five calendar days following sine die adjournment. A member of the Legislature or a candidate for state legislative office may not intentionally solicit or accept a contribution from a lobbyist or lobbyist principal during the same time period. Title 21, Crimes and Punishments § 187.1 (This is in the Criminal Code, not the Ethics Rules). This provision does not prevent a political action committee affiliated with a lobbyist principal corporation or labor union from making a contribution.
How to double check your Report Filing. When you complete your report you should get a page that says the filing was successfully filed. However, if you want to make sure your report is filed, go back to the “Filings” tab, your report should move from Reports Due to the Filing History showing the date filed or you can look your entity up on the public search to verify the filing is appearing. You can also view and print any filed report from either section.
The Guardian System Password Expiration:
Passwords for The Guardian System will expire periodically. If your password for The Guardian System has expired, the system will prompt you to change it. If you have forgotten your password or user name, you should use the forgot password or forgot user name links below the “login” and “reset” buttons. The system will verify your identity and show your password or username. If you are still unable to access the system contact us at (405) 521-3451 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have a temporary password sent to your email address on file.
How to Document Expenditures
Contributions to a committee may be used to make expenditures for ordinary and necessary campaign expenses, for contributions to another committee, and for operating expenses of the committee. “Ordinary and necessary campaign expenses” are those that would not exist but for the candidate’s campaign or for operating expenses for Political Action Committees and Political Party Committees. These expenditures should be documented by listing specifically what the money was spent for with a short but clear description as in these examples:
• $425.00, Ajax signs, address, 200 12x12 color yard signs
• $525.00, Cochran Company, address, one month office space rent
The information provided in your ethics contributions and expenditures reports should assist the public in identifying how contributions were spent.
How to Report Contributions from Retired and Self-employed Individuals
Each contribution for an individual should include their name, address, occupation and employer. For individuals who are retired, you should list the occupation they had prior to retirement. For example if you have a retired school teacher you would list the occupation as “teacher” and the employer as “retired”. A similar reporting issue exists for individuals who are self-employed. The occupation the person engages in must be listed as well as the employing entity. For example, if you have contributor Joe Smith accountant who owns Joe Smith Accounting Services, Inc., you would identify the occupation as “accountant”, and the employer as “Joe Smith Accounting Services, Inc.”. If the individual is a sole proprietor such as Joe Smith accountant who does business as “Joe Smith” the employer would be “Joe Smith, sole proprietor” or “self-employed”.
Updating Officers or Designated Filers in The Guardian
When updating officers or designated filers in The Guardian, delete the entry and add in the new officer or designated filer to establish proper credentials for each user. Each user should have their own email address which will generate individual credentials. Proper registration of the individuals using the system aids in managing any reporting issues.
Lobbyist Registration Requirements
Lobbyists are required to identify their clients (lobbyist principals) using the legal name of the lobbyist principal. The Guardian System integrates the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s (SOS) registered business entity list. It’s best to use a key word or words when searching the database to return results. Only when a lobbyist principal is not registered in Oklahoma with the SOS can the lobbyist free form the principal’s name during registration. However, the requirement is the same—to register using the legal name of the entity.
Why is it so important to use the SOS feature? Using the SOS search feature will assist The Guardian System in determining registration fees. Those principal’s that are free formed will all be assessed the $100 registration fee regardless of whether another lobbyist has already registered the principal. However, when the SOS feature is used The Guardian System can determine when multiple lobbyists have registered the same client and only charge once for the principal.
State Officers and Employees & State Questions
State officers and employees, including elected officials, should be familiar with Ethics Rules governing activities related to initiative petitions and state questions. State officers and employees may use their personal time or resources to support or oppose state questions so long as the following rules are followed:
Opening a Campaign Account
What will a committee need to open a campaign account with a depository (bank, credit union, etc. that does business in Oklahoma)? Remember, all funds must be deposited into the committee’s depository account.
Reporting Contributions from a Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Contributions may be accepted from a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a partnership but must be reported in individual members or partners ownership interest (See example below). Rule 2.104. However, if any member of the LLC or any partner of a partnership is a corporation, the contribution cannot be made from the LLC or partnership. The contribution would contain corporate money and cannot be accepted. Rules 2.24 and 2.25.
Example: Ajax Limited Liability Company is owned in equal shares by three individuals, Johnson, Carson and Larson. The committee receives a contribution of Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00) written on an Ajax LLC check. The committee does not report a contribution from Ajax LLC; instead, it reports contributions of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) each from Johnson, Carson and Larson.
Golf Fund-raising Events
Ethics Rule 2.62 provides specific guidance for golf fund-raising events. Any goods or services donated to a golf fund-raising event that is hosted by a political party committee, political action committee, or candidate committee are considered contributions based on the fair market value of the goods or services, regardless of how the goods or services are used. Therefore, when anyone sponsors the long drive hole, provides food for the event, donates sleeves of balls for participants, or provides the trophy for the winner, they have made a contribution to the committee that must be reported. In addition, any fee paid to participate in such golf fund-raising event is a contribution, regardless of whether the person paying the fee receives value in exchange for the fee. Because all fees for participating and all goods or services donated to the event are contributions, no goods or services may be donated, nor a fee paid, by any corporation.
How to Search for Data in The Guardian
Go to https://guardian.ok.gov/PublicSite/HomePage.aspx and hover your mouse over Search, from there you can select Candidate/Committees, Lobbyists, Documents and Financial Disclosure. From these drop downs you can search the database for information on Candidates, Lobbyists and Financial Disclosure filing including contributions and expenditures with details. Data can be exported to CSV, Excel or pdf.
New Scholarship Rule in Effect
State officers and employees may accept “a scholarship, similar grant or subsidy” to participate in certain educational or training events that are sponsored by another government, an entity to which the State of Oklahoma pays membership dues, or to a bona fide governmental, professional or business organization. These scholarships may include transportation costs, lodging, meals, refreshments, entertainment, instruction and materials made available to all other participants. The cost of the scholarship must be reported to the Ethics Commission within 30 days of the last day of the event when the scholarship is provided by a bona fide “governmental, professional or business organization” other than an organization to which the State pays membership dues or a governmental entity. The form to use to report such a scholarship is available here.
What is a “Designated Filing Agent”
The Guardian System allows for lobbyists, legislative liaisons and committees to add one or more “Designated Filing Agents” to their account. Designated filing agents are not required. These filing agents are individuals other than the registered lobbyist, legislative liaison, candidate or committee officer who enters data and files reports on behalf of the lobbyist, liaison or committee. The lobbyists, legislative liaisons, candidate’s and committee officers identified on a Registration or Statement of Organization are automatically assigned credentials to login and use The Guardian System and do not need to be identified as a designated filing agent. Once added to the system, designated filing agents will be issued their own credentials to access the system. For those designated filing agents who enter reports for multiple filers, the Ethics Commission can “merge” those accounts so the designated filing agent has only one login to access multiple accounts.
If a ticket to a bona fide community, civic, or charitable reception, breakfast, luncheon, or dinner is purchased by a lobbyist, and the lobbyist designates or gives a ticket directly to a legislator or other state officer or employee to attend the event, how is the ticket reported to the Ethics Commission? Information on Lobbyist reporting on tickets for events - Staff Memoranda 2015-06.