- Campaign Finance Reporting
- Lobbyists & Liaisons Reporting
- Financial Disclosure
- Ethics Laws, Guides & Forms
- County, Municipal & School Reporting
- Agency Information & Continuing Education
Is My Local Political Party Committee Required to Register with the Ethics Commission?
A local party committee—a congressional district, county, precinct or other associated party committee—is required to register with the Commission by filing a Statement of Organization in any year the committee performs at least one of the following “triggering events”:
1. Make an independent expenditure (“IE”);
2. Make an electioneering communication (“EC”); or
3. Make a contribution in any amount to a candidate for any state office.
A committee that performs at least one of these triggering events is required to register with the Commission and file one or more reports. A committee that does not expend funds for any of the three triggering events is not required to register with the Commission or file reports.
Lobbyist Question: As a lobbyist who lobbies the legislature, governor and their staff is there ever a time when I need to report staff members or legislators separately for group events sponsored by a lobbyist principal?
What is the 2019 Travel Reimbursement rate?
The mileage reimbursement rate under the Ethics Rules for 2019 is $0.50 per mile, click here for more information.
I am listed as the Treasurer on a candidate committee but do not file the reports, am I still responsible for the filing of reports?
Yes. Listing an individual as “treasurer” of a committee is an official notice to the Ethics Commission that the individual listed has agreed to fulfill the legal responsibilities as Treasurer under the Ethics Rules. This legal responsibility includes ensuring that reports are filed timely and accurately with the Ethics Commission, as well as keeping the financial records and accounts for the committee. Click here to review Ethics Rule 2.73, Candidate Committee Treasurer Responsibilities. Committees may use designated filing agents “DFAs” to assist in filing reports, but the Treasurer, not the DFA, is legally responsible for the accurate and timely filing of reports. Remember, every person with access to the account must be registered in some capacity with the committee in order to have a username and password to access the system. Usernames and passwords are not to be shared to access the system.
Amending Statements of Organizations to add/delete Treasurers in The Guardian System: Login to the committee’s Guardian account. Go to the Candidate Committee Registration section in the Filing History Grid under the “FILINGS TAB” and click “amend” next to the registration. Scroll down to the Committee Officers information. Use the “Delete” option to remove the Treasurer listed (not the “update” link which is only to correct typos in the name or phone number). To add a new Treasurer, use the “Role” dropdown to select Treasurer and fill in the Treasurer’s information and click the “add to list” button. Once the amendment filed, the previous Treasurer’s username will be deactivated and the new officer will receive credentials to access the system.
I am a Candidate for state office can my committee pay my campaign travel costs when I use my personal car? If so, how do I report it?
Yes, but only by claiming mileage reimbursement at the proper rate within 90 days. When a personal motor vehicle is used for campaign or officeholder purposes, the candidate committee may make expenditures for mileage reimbursement at the rate authorized for a privately owned motor vehicle under the State Travel Reimbursement Act or less: the mileage reimbursement rate for 2018 is $0.47/mile. All mileage reimbursements for candidates must be made within 90 days of the original expenditure (i.e., the travel). Candidates may only receive reimbursements for campaign expenses for which the candidate used personal funds if the candidate is reimbursed within 90 days of the original expense. Any travel by the candidate that has not been reimbursed within 90 days is not reimbursable. A candidate committee’s volunteers and campaign staff may also be reimbursed mileage from committee funds when mileage is incurred for campaign activities.Gasoline, vehicle maintenance, repairs, etc. should never be purchased with a campaign debit card or any other campaign funds when a personal vehicle is used for campaign or officeholder purposes. Note to Officeholders: Candidate committee funds may only be used to reimburse mileage not otherwise reimbursed by the state or any other entity.
Documentation: A mileage log or other documentation must be kept to document the travel, which should include for each entry, but is not limited to, the date of travel, purpose of travel, starting point, destination, and number of miles traveled.
Reporting Reimbursement: All committee expenditures for mileage reimbursement must be reported with a specific description, including but not limited to, the purpose of the travel, time period covered, number of miles and the mileage rate used to determine the reimbursement value. Rules 2.45(B), 2.43, 2.67 and 2.106.
EXAMPLE: Reporting Mileage Reimbursement in The Guardian System
Candidate mileage reimbursement specific description example (all Candidate mileage will be a “Candidate Reimbursement”):
4/1/18 to 4/30/18
Fundraising event travel
The description should include the period covered (for the 90 day limit), the number of miles with rate of reimbursement.
The election is over—now what?
Post-election Contributions. Contributions may continue to be accepted from contributors who did not exceed the pre-primary contribution limits. Any contributor who did not exceed limits before the primary election may contribute an additional amount(s) that, when added to prior contributions, do not exceed the contribution limit for the primary election.
Does not take office
November 6, 2020
2 year term
November 6, 2020
4 year term
November 6, 2022
6 year term
November 6, 2024
For more information on the items listed above, and other helpful information, review the Guide for Candidates.
Pre-Primary Election Independent Expenditure, Electioneering Communications or State Question Communications (IE/EC/SQC) Reporting for PACs and Party Committees and Non-Committees.
Entities—committees and non-committees—expending $5,000 or more for independent expenditures (IEs), electioneering communications (ECs) or state question communications (SQCs) before an election are required to file pre-election IE/EC/SQC Reports when those expenditures have not been previously reported. Failure to timely file accurate reports may result in either a Compliance Order, or investigation and district court action by the Commission.
Filing the Report(s): The Guardian System will trigger an IE/EC/SQC Report only once the transaction(s) are entered into the system. Once the IE/EC/SQC is entered using the appropriate option of “Independent Expenditure,” “Electioneering Communication,” or “State Question Communication” from the list of expenditure types in The Guardian System, a message window will display notifying the committee that a report is required and has been added to the filing schedule. To file the report, go to the “Filings” tab and follow the same process for filing all other reports.
Any person, other than an individual or political action committees, that makes an independent expenditure (IE), electioneering communication (EC), or state question communication (SQC) of $5,000 or more in the aggregate at least fifteen (15) days prior to any election is required to file an IE/EC/SQC Special Report with the Commission. This will include information about the expenditure(s) and contributor(s).
Filing the Report(s): Access the Guardian System from this page by clicking on the “The Guardian System” icon on the right side of the page under the menu bar. From the homepage of The Guardian System, go to the “Special Reports” tab and select “Independent Expenditure, Electioneering Communication & State Question Communication Reports” from the drop-down list. Once there, follow the instructions on the page to file the report.
No. The IRS issues EINs to identify an organization for tax purposes. Some banks require an EIN number to open a depository, but this is not a requirement of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
For more regarding EIN numbers and taxation of political organizations, including candidate committees, see the links below. The staff of the Ethics Commission are not tax professionals and are unable to answer tax related questions, so the information provided is purely for informational purposes. If you have specific questions or concerns regarding political organizations and taxes you should seek the advice of a tax professional—and yes, the expense involved in tax advice for a political committee may be paid using that committee’s campaign funds.
Tax Information for Political Organizations: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/political-organizations
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.