An opinion has been requested whether a candidate in a primary election may:
1) expend contributions accepted for the general election to pay for an event to raise funds for that election, if the event is held before the date of the primary; and
2) attribute the cost of the event to the fundraising allowance associated with the general election.
The following example has been provided:
Candidate X desires to hold an event in order to raise matchable funds for the general election. X wants to hold this event in August. The candidate rents a hall, hires talent, contracts for food, etc. The invitation includes the office sought but does not mention the primary election. The program of the event will include a welcome from X. There will be no political speeches. General campaign literature will be available. Proceeds from the event will be deposited directly into X's general election bank account. X wishes to pay for this event out of monies previously deposited in X's general election account and to "charge" the expenditures to the general election campaign limit.
1) Prior to the date of the primary election, a candidate may solicit and accept contributions for the general election. These contributions may not be commingled with contributions accepted for the primary election. Campaign Finance Board Regulation §401(a) (1). Contributions accepted for the general election may not be expended until the day following the primary election. Campaign Finance Board Regulation §402(c). Therefore, contributions accepted for the general election may not be expended to pay for a fundraising event held before the primary election, regardless of the purpose of that fundraising event.
2) Each fundraising allowance is associated with a particular expenditure limit. Each expenditure limit, and associated fundraising allowance, applies to expenditures made within the same time period. Administrative Code §3-706(5) (b). Expenditures by candidates in a primary election made prior to or on the date of the primary election are deemed to have been made for the primary election. §3-706(1) (c).
Because the fundraising event is held in August, the expenditure is made during a time period in which the primary election expenditure limit and the associated fundraising allowance is applicable1. No exemption may be claimed for fundraising costs in the primary election expenditure period under the fundraising allowance associated with the general election.
NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD
1 The general election expenditure limit would apply to expenditures made in August only in circumstances in which there is no contested primary for the office sought by the candidate.