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Summary of Public Campaign Financing Laws

Initial Requirements

To be eligible to receive public contributions for the Primary Election, the following documentation must be filed at the State Board of Elections (SBE) no later than 9:00 pm on February 25, 2014:

  1. A Certificate of Candidacy for Governor and Lt. Governor;
  2. A notice of intent to qualify for public contributions; and
  3. A certification that the required seed money was raised and received after March 1, 2013 signed by the gubernatorial ticket's treasurer.

A candidate who did not receive public funds in the Primary Election may become eligible to receive public funds in the General Election if:

  1. The candidate's expenditures in the Primary Election did not exceed the maximum campaign expenditure limit; and
  2. The candidate files the notice of intent and the certification mentioned above with SBE not later than 5:00 pm on September 15, 2014.

If they meet the requirements set out above, any gubernatorial candidate and his or her running mate are eligible, to receive public funds, including:

  • Principal and other recognized party candidates;
  • Candidates not affiliated with a political party; and
  • Write-in candidates.

Seed Money

The amount of seed money that must be raised is equal to 10% of the maximum campaign expenditure limit. The seed money requirement and expenditure limit for the 2014 Gubernatorial Election is $258,612.42.

Seed money must consist of eligible private contributions. An eligible private contribution can only be made by an individual and may not exceed $250[1]. Accordingly, money from business entities, political action committees, and other organizations or associations may not be counted as seed money. An in-kind contribution from an individual may be counted as seed money.

Receiving the Public Funds

To receive public contributions, an eligible candidate shall file a request with SBE including the date of the preceding request and the amount of public contributions received thus far.

SBE will determine whether a candidate is eligible to receive public funding not later than 5 days after either receiving the candidate's initial request or after SBE determines candidates for the General Election.

Post Election Requirements

After the primary election and after the general election a candidate who received public funds must report to SBE (on the required form) the amount of the public funds that were spent and how those funds were spent. This is in addition to filing the Campaign Finance Reports required under Election Law Article § 13-309 of the Code. Within 60 days following the election for which public funds were received, a candidate must return to the Comptroller any unspent portion of the funds (private contributions being presumed to be spent first).

Maximum Campaign Expenditure Limit

A candidate who receives public funds may not exceed the expenditure limit. The expenditure limit is calculated as follows:

30¢ x State Population = Expenditure Limit

The State Population is determined as of January 1, 2014, and the 30¢ amount is adjusted annually beginning in 1997 in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.   According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Division of Health Statistics, the State population as of January 1, 2014 was 5,884,563. The adjusted value of 30¢ in accordance with the Consumer Price Index was $0.439476.

$0.439476 x 5,884,563 = $2,586,124.21

Expenditures made on behalf of a candidate by a State or local party central committee are not subject to the expenditure limit.

However, the following expenditures do count towards the candidate's expenditure limit:

  1. An expenditure by a political committee that is coordinated with the candidate, an agent of the candidate, or an authorized committee of the candidate;
  2. An expenditure by a slate of which the candidate is a member (the amount attributed to the candidate is the amount of the expenditure divided by the number of members of the slate); and
  3. An in-kind contribution of $51.00 or more made to the candidate's campaign.

How the Money Will Be Disbursed

It is the responsibility of SBE to order the disbursement of the public funds. Generally, the amount disbursed is as follows:

Primary Election
Candidates with opposition $1 in public funds for every $1 in eligible private contributions
Candidate without opposition $1 in public funds for every $3 in eligible private contributions
General Election
Candidates with opposition Equal shares of the remainder of the fund (including unspent money from the primary)
Candidate without opposition No funds will be provided.

However, the actual amount disbursed is dependent on the amount of money in the fund and the number of eligible candidates. If SBE determines that there is not enough money in the Fund to provide a full disbursement to all eligible candidates, SBE is required to allocate the available money so that each eligible candidate will receive a pro rata share of the full disbursement to which the candidate would otherwise be entitled.

Spending Public Funds

The Comptroller will disburse public funds to, and a candidate may spend public funds only from a single campaign fund account established by that candidate.

A candidate may not spend public funds for:

  1. Any purpose that violates any law or regulation of the State;
  2. Any expense incurred later than 30 days after the election; or
  3. Any real or personal property that will be retained more than 30 days after the election.

Liability and Penalties

The gubernatorial ticket candidates, and any chairman or treasurer associated with an expenditure that exceeds the maximum campaign expenditure limit are jointly and severally liable, both civilly and criminally, for that violation. For a criminal conviction, a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both, may be imposed.

The Gubernatorial ticket candidates, the chairman and treasurer are also jointly and severally liable personally to repay any failure to refund unspent public funds or any amount spent improperly.

Fair Campaign Financing Fund

As of January 1, 2014 the Office of the Comptroller reports that the Fair Campaign Financing Fund has $4,924,413.25.

Public Funding Related Forms


Footnotes

1 - If an individual contributes $1,000, the first $250 of the contribution can be counted as an eligible private contribution. In addition, multiple contributions by the same individual may all be counted as eligible private contributions, provided the cumulative value does not exceed $250.