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When Does a Candidate Register His/Her Candidate Committee?
A Statement of Organization—the candidate committee registration document—must be filed within 10 calendar days after a candidate has accepted or spent more than $1,000 for his or her campaign. This $1,000 threshold includes any personal funds that the candidate provided to his or her campaign or any purchases by the candidate or others for the campaign. If an individual who is seeking office never accepts or spends more than $1,000.00, then there is no requirement to file a Statement of Organization. Rule 2.70.
Individuals Required to File a PFD
1. State Officers serving in an office subject to election or retention.
2. County officers subject to election or retention
3. Municipal officers subject to election or retention (municipalities with a population over 10,000 according to 2010 census and with a general expenditure budget of $10 million or more.
4. School Board officers subject to election or retention
Only the individual required to file the PFD may file the PFD. No other individual is permitted to file the PFD, including but not limited to, the committee officers or a DFA. State officers will file their PFD electronically in The Guardian System. For more information on PFD requirements, review the Financial Disclosure Guide or review the information under the Financial Disclosure tab.
For those at the county, municipal, and school board level (local level), you will file your PFD with the county election board, municipal clerk’s office or school board clerk’s office, respectively. Local officers will retrieve the PFD and find more information on PFD reporting requirements under the “County, Municipal & School Reporting” tab.
There are two time periods for filing PFDs:
1. Initial Filings – These individuals have not filed a PFD within the last year and are required to file within 30 days of being sworn in to office
2. Annual Filings – These individuals have filed their initial PFD, but are required to file annually by May 15th of each year that they hold that position
Only one PFD is required a year per filer. For example, if someone files their initial PFD in Feb 2018, they will not be required to file a PFD on May 15, 2018. However, they are required to file an annual PFD by May 15, 2019. Also, PFDs cover the prior year’s financial activity. For example, if someone files a PFD in 2018, the PFD will cover those financial interests in 2017.
Individuals, other than the candidate and political consultants, who make expenditures for the campaign and wish to be reimbursed by the candidate committee may do so provided the committee allows such reimbursement. However, the expenditure should be reported by indicating the ultimate vendor or recipient of the funds and providing a specific description of the reimbursement. This is an unusual circumstance and committees should make every effort to ensure purchases are made directly to vendors using committee funds. However, in the event a third-party purchase occurs, the committee must ensure it has procedures in place for third-party purchases, such as what can be purchased, purchasing limits, mechanism for reimbursement, and proper record keeping. Click here to review Staff Memorandum 2017-02 for more information. Please review the mileage section below for information on mileage reimbursements.
Expenditures made by political consultants and other 3rd parties on behalf of the candidate committee must be reported as if the expenditures had been made directly by the candidate committee to the vendor or recipient of funds. Click here to review Staff Memorandum 2017-02 for more information and examples. Steps must be taken by the committee to ensure such purchases are timely reported to the Treasurer of the candidate committee as the Treasurer must include the purchase on the Campaign and Expenditure Report covering the time period the purchase was made. Because the expenditure has already been reported by the committee, the subsequent reimbursement to the consultant or 3rd party will not also be reported but proper records must be maintained with the Committee records to show the original expenditure and subsequent reimbursement.
Candidate committee funds (including "expenditures made via" a Debit Card) cannot be used to purchase fuel, maintenance, or similar services for a personal vehicle. Candidate committee funds may only be used to reimburse mileage (mileage not otherwise reimbursed) at the applicable rate.
The rate for the mileage reimbursement is determined by the State Travel Reimbursement Act. This rate may not be the rate set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Candidate committees should review the applicable rate regularly to ensure the appropriate reimbursement rate is used. As of January 1, 2017, the mileage reimbursement rate is $0.47/mile.
The only mileage that may be reimbursed using candidate committee funds is the mileage incurred as a result of campaign activity or officeholder activity. All mileage reimbursements to the candidate for mileage incurred as a result of campaign or officeholder activities must be made within 90 days of the original expenditure (i.e., the travel). All committee expenditures for mileage reimbursement must be reported with a specific description, including but not limited to, the number of miles and the mileage rate used to determine the reimbursement value and the purpose of the travel. Rules 2.45(B), 2.43, and 2.106.
Finding Non-registered Political Action Committees Identification Numbers
How do I find Federal Election Committee (FEC) or non-registered PAC numbers? The majority of non-registered PAC’s are going to be registered with the Federal Election Commission and you should include the FEC number in the area supplied in the Guardian (as seen below), you may search for FEC numbers at http://classic.fec.gov/portal/searchable.shtml . Any out of State PAC’s not registered with the FEC should supply their registration number and should have documentation on file with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Always call the Ethics Commission Office if you have difficulty finding a PAC name or are unsure of a contribution.
How does Ethics Rule Amendment 2017-02, which allows candidates to be reimbursed from campaign funds, impact existing committees?
Pre-2015 Committees: The Rule change does not impact candidate committees formed prior to January 1, 2015.
2015 and later Committees: The Rule change impacts all candidate committees formed on or after January 1, 2015. As of May 26, 2017, the Ethics Rules allow for candidates who use personal funds to purchase goods or services for the campaign to be reimbursed from campaign funds within 90 days of the expenditures so long as the reimbursement is fully itemized.
Ethics Rule Amendment 2017-02 (effective May 26, 2017) is found here: Amendment 2017-02
Under Ethics Rule 2.64, candidate committees may provide its contributors and volunteers free campaign-related goods of modest value. The Rule does not define modest, but it lists some common examples of such gifts, including t-shirts or caps. In addition, the items provided to volunteers and contributors must be campaign-related; for example, a cap or t-shirt on which the campaign logo or candidate committee name is printed. Such gifts are different than the goods sold by the committee to raise funds.
A gift card is equivalent to cash. Consequently, the Ethics Rules do not permit such an item because it is not campaign-related. If a candidate committee wishes to pay an individual, that individual is not a volunteer but a committee staff member on payroll.