2023 Legislative Update for Candidates and Multi-Candidate Political Campaign Committees
For Candidates and Officeholders:
· Effective March 14, 2023, all Disclosures of Consulting Services and Campaign Services statements must be filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission within 5 days of entering into the agreement and must be updated annually within 5 days of the initial contract date in each subsequent year in which the contract is in effect. (Public Chapter 37, 2023).
· Effective April 4, 2023, all candidate campaign funds must be segregated from all other funds at all times, including from personal funds and funds belonging to a candidate controlled MPCC. Candidates must also segregate all credit transactions incurred on behalf of their campaign accounts and/or officeholder accounts from all other credit transactions, including personal transactions and transactions incurred on behalf of candidate controlled MPCCs. A violation of these requirements is a Class 2 offense. (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
· Effective January 1, 2024, Candidates for state or local public office may not accept contributions in excess of the loans or obligations outstanding from such election following the close of the reporting period following the date of the election, not including the reporting period in which the election occurs. Successful candidates may continue to accept contributions for the purpose of defraying officeholder expenses until the close of the reporting period following the date of the election, not including the reporting period in which the election occurs. Beginning with the reporting period following the date of the election, not including the reporting period in which the election occurs, a candidate for state or local public office reporting an unexpended balance or an outstanding loan or obligation who has not affirmatively created a new campaign account for the next election shall, in addition to the reporting requirements established by §§ 2-10-105 and 2-10-107, file a complete copy of the candidate's campaign account banking statements corresponding to the full term of the reporting period with the registry or local election commission, as applicable. Such banking statements must continue to be filed by the candidate for each required reporting period until such time as the candidate no longer possesses an unexpended balance of funds or an outstanding loan or obligation, or until such time as the candidate transfers such funds, loans, or obligations to another campaign fund for a subsequent election pursuant to § 2-10- 114(a)( 1 ), whichever occurs earlier. A failure to file the required banking statements is a Class 2 offense as defined by§ 2-10-11 0(a)(2). (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
· Effective January 1, 2024, Candidates must properly attribute contributions to the proper election and report accordingly, in accordance with the following:
o In the case of a contribution designated in writing by the contributor for a particular election, the election so designated;
o In the case of a contribution not designated in writing by the contributor for a particular election, the next election after the contribution is made.
A contribution designated in writing for a particular election, but made after that election, must be made only to the extent that the contribution does not exceed the contribution limits from such election. To the extent that such contribution exceeds the contribution limits from such election, the candidate shall either return the contribution to the contributor or obtain written authorization from the contributor to redesignate the contribution to another election within sixty (60) calendar days of the receipt of the contribution. A contribution made by more than one (1) person, except for a contribution made by a partnership, must include the signature of each contributor on the check, money order, or other negotiable instrument or in a separate writing. If a contribution made by more than one (1) person does not indicate the amount to be attributed to each contributor, the contribution is deemed to be attributed equally to each contributor. The limitations on contributions in this section apply separately to contributions made by spouses, even if only one (1) spouse has income; provided, that each spouse signs the check, money order, or other negotiable instrument or the separate contributions are designated in writing by the contributing spouses as being independent contributions. Contributions made from an account shared by spouses, regardless of the type of account, must be presumed to be made by the individual authorizing the contribution alone, absent the written designation of independent contributions. (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
For Multi-Candidate Political Campaign Committees (MPCCs, otherwise known as PACs):
· The requirement to maintain segregated campaign accounts no longer applies to MPCCs which are not candidate controlled. (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
· Effective April 4, 2023, where civil penalties are unpaid by a political campaign committee within 30 days following the date of an order, the treasurer and the officers of the political campaign committee listed on the forms on file with the registry pursuant to § 2-10-105(e) at the time the conduct that gave rise to the civil penalty occurred are ineligible to qualify for election to a state or local public office until the penalty is paid. (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
· Effective April 4, 2023, the annual PAC registration fee is abolished. (Public Chapter 108, 2023).
· Effective July 1, 2023, all local political campaign committees must register with the Registry of Election Finance and file all campaign financial disclosure statements with the Registry of Election Finance. (Public Chapter 59, 2023).
Effective January 1, 2024, the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance will move to communicating with all filers primarily through email and, alternatively, through regular mail. Please be looking for more information about implementing this change and ensure that your contact information is up to date at all times. (Public Chapter 38, 2023)