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1989-19: Filing Pre-Effective Date Reports Without Identifying Committee Accepting Contribution

May 02, 1989

The question has been raised whether, under certain circumstances, candidates may file pre-effective date reports that do not identify the particular authorized committee which accepted a contribution or made an expenditure before February 29, 1988 (the effective date of the New York City Campaign Finance Act).

Section 302(a) of the Campaign Finance Board Regulations requires the treasurer of a principal committee to set forth information about funds received and expended by candidates and each of their authorized committees. See also Campaign Finance Board Regulation §312(a). For purposes of providing full public disclosure in accordance with the intent of the Campaign Finance Act, the Board has designed forms which provide for the identification of the particular authorized committee which accepted contributions or made expenditures on behalf of a candidate.

Financial disclosure reports filed with the New York State or City Board of Elections pursuant to New York Election Law §14-102 also specify the particular committee accepting contributions and making expenditures. For the purpose of facilitating compliance with disclosure requirements, the Campaign Finance Board permits legible copies of Board of Elections reports to be submitted for compliance with certain reporting requirements. See Campaign Finance Board Regulations §302(d); 311(d).

Because committees operated prior to February 29, 1988 without anticipating the particular disclosure requirements of the Campaign Finance Act, it appears that identifying the particular authorized committees receiving contributions and making expenditures in the pre-effective date period may, in some circumstances, pose an undue burden without furthering the interest of full disclosure required by the Act.

The Board has been presented with a factual situation in which contributions received by more than one committee were used, either directly or by transfer, to repay debts for a previous campaign. These same committees also accepted contributions and made expenditures for the same future election.

In another case, the committees were assigned specialized functions: one committee served as the primary recipient and initial depository of contributions and routinely transferred those contributions to a second committee which made expenditures. These committees operated together to raise and spend monies for the same future election.

Financial disclosure reports filed with the Board of Elections are the only existing public record that contributions and expenditures were attributed to different committees. In specific circumstances in which principal committee treasurers can demonstrate that prior to February 29, 1988 all authorized committees essentially operated as a single committee for the same election or elections, and the number of contributions and expenditures to be itemized reflects a significant disclosure burden, it is the conclusion of the Board that it is unnecessary to identify on pre-effective date reports which particular authorized committee accepted given contributions or made given expenditures during the pre-effective date period. The treasurers must, however, submit legible copies of all financial disclosure reports filed with the Board of Elections for the applicable time period for each committee reporting contributions and expenditures prior to February 29, 1988.