PAC FAQs

The purpose of the Campaign Finance Guidelines for PACs is to help advise multi candidate committees how they may legally take an active part in the election process. This guide explains how to participate in State and Local elections in compliance with Tennessee law. It is important to note that this guide focuses on political activity in State and Local elections—not Federal elections.

If you would like to view a printable version of the guide, along with the rules and statues please click the link, PAC Guide. You may click any of the questions below and be taken to the section that will answer the question.

You need to talk to the TN.gov Accounts Management team. You can call them at (629) 888-5870 or send them an email at apps.support@tn.gov. They support all users for the State of Tennessee, so be sure to give them as much detail about what account you're trying to access up front.

Political Action Committees (PACs). 
All political campaign committees, popularly known as PACs, that participate in any state or local election are required to file campaign financial disclosure statements.  

 A "political campaign committee" is defined as “any corporation or any other organization making expenditures to support or oppose a measure; or any committee, club, corporation, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions or makes expenditures to support or oppose any candidate for public office or measure during a calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000)”. T.C.A. § 2-10-102(12).  A “multicandidate political campaign committee” is defined as a committee that makes expenditures to support or oppose two or more candidates for public office or two or more measures in a referenda election.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(9).


 Certain Tax-Exempt Organizations. 

Effective July 1, 2022, certain tax-exempt organizations, including any organization that is tax exempt under United States Internal Revenue Service Code § 501(c)(4),(5), and/or (6) (26 USC §501(c)(4), (5), (6)), must file campaign financial disclosure reports with the Registry of Election Finance to report expenditures in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-105(c)(1) and (h) during the remainder of the election year if the organization 1) expends and aggregate total of at least five thousand dollars ($5,000) in organizational funds, moneys, or credits for communications that expressly contain the name or visually depict the likeness of a state candidate in a primary or general election and 2) such expenditures or communications occur within sixty (60) days immediately preceding a primary or general election in which the named or visually depicted candidate appears on the ballot.  T.C.A. § 2-10-132(b) (Public Chapter 1087 (2022)).

 These organizations are NOT required to report any form of contributions.  These organizations are not deemed to be ordefined as ether a “political campaign committee” or a “multicandidate political campaign committee” (PACs), unless the organization’s activitiesotherwise meet the definition of a “political campaign committee” or“multicandidate political campaign committee” as defined by Tenn. Code Ann. §2-10-102.  These organizations must also file a Certification of Responsible Individuals form with the Registry as soon as the organization becomes aware that it will be required to file campaign financial disclosure reports under this section.

PACs that support or oppose candidates for a "state public office", as defined by T.C.A 2-10-102(13)(B), or that support or oppose any statewide measure, are required to file campaign financial disclosure statements with the Registry of Election Finance ("the Registry"). 

PACs that support or oppose a candidate(s) in a "local public office", as defined by T.C.A. 2-10-102(13)(A) or that support or oppose any local measure, are required to file campaign financial disclosure statements with the local election commission in each county included in the district relevant to each candidate the PAC supports or opposes, or the county where the measure will be on the ballot.

A PAC that supports or opposes candidates on both the state and local levels must file with both the Registry and each appropriate county election commission. 

Any tax-exempt organization that is required to file campaign financial disclosure statements pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-10-132(b) are required to file those statements with the Registry of Election Finance.

Political Campaign Treasurers.  Before any monies can be received or spent, each political campaign committee must certify the name and address of its political treasurer to the Registry of Election Finance for a state election and to the county election commission for a local election.  This is accomplished by completing and filing an Appointment of Political Treasurer and Officers form with the Registry of Election Finance.  T.C.A. § 2-10-105(e) (2022).

Before any monies can be received or spent, each PAC participating in a local election must certify the name and address of its political treasurer to the county election commission.  This is accomplished by completing and filing the Appointment Of Political Treasurer Form (Local PACs Only) with the appropriate local election commission. T.C.A. § 2-10-105(e) (2022).

 If a PAC is participating in both a state election and a local election, the PAC must file the Appointment of Political Treasurer and Officers form with the Registry of Election Finance and either submit a copy of this filing to the local election commission(s) or file an Appointment Of Political Treasurer Form (Local PACs Only) with the local election commission(s).

 Campaign Bank Account.  All campaign funds must be kept at all times in a separate and segregated bank account from other funds, including personal funds.  Corporate PACs should create a separate and segregated bank account for purposes of campaign funds, which are to be maintained separately from other corporate and organizational funds.  PACs registered at the federal level and/or in two or more states of the United States do not need to establish a bank account dedicated for Tennessee funds, provided that all other regulations relating to campaign funds in Tennessee are observed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-106(b) (2022).

No.  While T.C.A. §2-10-121 requires all multicandidate political campaign committees registered in Tennessee to pay an annual registration fee, the Registry of Election Finance has been enjoined from enforcing this statute.

Treasurers, Officers and Responsible Individuals.  The appointment of a political treasurer, committee officers, and the designation of responsible individuals is valid for as long as the committee remains active or until a replacement is made and a new Appointment of Political Treasurer and Officers form is filed.  A new Appointment of Political Treasurer and Officers form must be filed with either the Registry of Election Finance or the appropriate local election commission in order to update and/or modify the previous appointment of the treasurer, officers, and/or responsible individuals.

Contributions. A reportable contribution is defined by the law as being “any advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, loan guaranty, personal funds of a candidate, payment, gift, pledge or subscription, of money or like thing of value, and any contract, agreement, promise or other obligation. . . .made for the purpose of influencing a measure or nomination for election or the election of any person for public office.” T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)

In-Kind Contributions.  In-kind contributions are goods or services provided to a candidate without charge (such as the use of equipment or advertisement materials at no cost to the candidate) and must be listed separately on the campaign financial disclosure statement from other campaign contributions.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(c)(1) and Rule 0530-1-1-.03(6)

An in-kind contribution is considered to be made and is reportable during the period in which the contribution is made or performed, not when the cost of the contribution is billed or paid.

The amount for an in-kind contribution which should be reported by a candidate should be the fair market value for such goods or services provided.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(d) If the actual cost of an in-kind contribution is not known at the time when it is reportable, an estimate of the cost shall be reported during the period that the contribution is made or performed, and the disclosure report shall indicate that the amount reported is estimated.  If the actual cost of the in-kind contribution as indicated on the bill for the goods or services is different than the amount reported, the candidate or committee shall adjust the amount reported on a later disclosure statement covering the period in which payment for the in-kind contribution is made.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(d)

Expenditures. A reportable expenditure is defined by statute as “a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing a measure or the nomination for election or election of any person to public office.”  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(6)(A) An “independent expenditure” is an expenditure that is made for the purpose of influencing a measure or the nomination for election or election of any person to public office which is not made with the cooperation, consultation, or in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s political campaign committee, or their agents.  Independent expenditures are not contributions but are reportable. T.C.A. § 2-10-303(5).

For purposes of determining whether an expenditure constitutes either a contribution or independent expenditure has occurred or is reportable, the Registry of Election Finance may rely upon the precedents established under federal law, including but not limited to any guidance or regulatory interpretation published by the Federal Election Commission. T.C.A. § 2-10-309. 

Loans.  A loan must be disclosed by the PAC during the reporting period that the loan is made.  A loan must continue to be disclosed on future campaign financial disclosure statements until the loan is paid back in full or a statement has been filed with the appropriate campaign financial disclosure statement by the PAC stating that the loan will not be repaid and is to be considered a contribution to the campaign. Rule 0530-1-1-.06(1) and Rule 0530-1-1-.06(2)

Obligations. Goods and services received on credit which are not paid for during the reporting period received must be disclosed as an obligation by the PAC or during the reporting period that the obligation is incurred.  This obligation must continue to be disclosed by the PAC on campaign financial disclosure statements until fully paid.  Payments on the obligation shall be disclosed as expenditures by the PAC on the appropriate campaign financial disclosure statement(s).  Rule 0530-1-1-.10(1)

Short Form.  PACs are exempt from filing a detailed disclosure statement if neither contributions received nor expenditures made during a reporting period for which a statement is submitted exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).  The PAC must report the balance of contributions on hand, outstanding loans and outstanding obligations.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(1)

Detailed Disclosure.  A PAC which has over one thousand dollars ($1,000) in contributions and/or expenditures must complete a detailed disclosure and list contributions, expenditures, loans and obligations as described below. T.C.A. § 2-10-107(2)(A)(i)

Unitemized Contributions.  Contributions totaling one hundred dollars ($100) or less from a single source during the reporting period may be totaled and reported as a single item.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(2)(A)(i).

*Effective January 16, 2023, unitemized contributions are capped at $2,000 per reporting period.  Once the $2,000 amount has been reached for a reporting period, any contribution received thereafter must be itemized regardless of the amount.  (Public Chapter 1087).  

Itemized Contributions.  PACs are required to list the full name, complete address, amount, date of receipt of contribution, and the election the contribution is designated for, for each person or organization who contributes a total of more than one hundred dollars ($100) during a reporting period.  In addition, if this contribution is from an individual, the contributor’s occupation and employer must be listed.  A PAC that makes a "best effort" to obtain the address, occupation and employer for a contribution is considered to be in compliance with the requirement.  "Best Effort" would include requesting the information on an invitation and stating that the information is required by state law for contributions over $100 or requesting the information in a letter sent by first class postage and stating that the information is required by state law for contributions over $100.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(A)(i).

For example, a person who contributes fifty dollars ($50) one day, fifty dollars ($50) the following day and one dollar ($1) the next day would have to be specifically listed on the campaign financial disclosure statement as having contributed one hundred one dollars ($101), if all those monies were contributed during one reporting period.  Likewise, a person who buys five (5) tickets to a campaign fundraiser at twenty-five dollars ($25) each would have to be specifically listed on the campaign financial disclosure statement as having contributed one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125).  A contributor may designate his/her contribution to a candidate by indicating in writing the specific election to which the contribution is intended to apply.

Unitemized Expenditures.  Expenditures totaling one hundred dollars ($100) or less to a single payee during the reporting period are not required to be itemized.  These expenditures may be broken down and totaled by general categories (such as gas, food, etc.).  For example, purchases of twenty-five dollars ($25) of gas at five different service stations would be shown as "Gas -- $125".  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(B).

*Effective January 16, 2023, all expenditures must be itemized.  Unitemized expenditures will not be permitted beginning with the reporting period which begins on January 16, 2023.

Itemized Expenditures.  The law requires candidates to list the full name and address of each person or organization to whom a total of more than one hundred dollars ($100) was paid during a reporting period.  The law also requires that the amount of each expenditure paid to such person or organization be reported, along with a detailed statement of the purpose of the expenditure.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(B).

When a purchase is made with a credit card, the purchase must be disclosed as a payment to the vendor (not the credit card company).  For example, if printing is purchased from ABC Printing with a credit card, the payee must be listed as ABC Printing.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(B).

Purchases of goods and services must be disclosed as a purchase from the actual vendor and not as a purchase from a third party who is reimbursed for the purchase.  For example, if a campaign worker goes to ABC Printing and pays for printing and is then reimbursed by the campaign for the printing, the disclosure must list ABC Printing as the vendor and not the campaign worker.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(B).

When listing the purpose of an expenditure, the words "reimbursement", "credit card purchase", "other" and "campaign expenditure" may not be used as the purpose.  The purpose must be detailed enough to show that the expenditure was an allowable expenditure.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(B).

Loans.  Itemized information must be provided for all loans for more than one hundred dollars ($100) from one creditor during a reporting period.  This information includes the full name and address of each creditor, and the date that the loan was made must be provided.  In addition, any endorsers or guarantors for a loan must be listed by full name and address and the amount of the loan which is guaranteed by that person must be disclosed.  The outstanding loan balance at the beginning of the reporting period, any additional loans received during that period, any loan payments made during the period and the outstanding loan balance at the end of the reporting period must also be disclosed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(a)(2)(A)(I).

Obligations.  All obligations owed at the end of a reporting period for more than one hundred dollars ($100) to one creditor must be itemized.  The itemized information required includes the full name and address of the creditor.  In addition, the outstanding obligations' balance at the beginning of the reporting period, any additional obligations incurred during the period, any payments made to the creditor during the period and the outstanding obligations balance at the end of the reporting period must be disclosed.

All political campaign committees are required to file quarterly financial disclosure statements during state election years (even numbered years). In addition, during election years PACs are required to file pre-primary and pre-general reports. During non-election years (odd numbered years), PACs are required to file on a semi-annual basis. For the year 2022, these reports are due as follows:

1st Quarter - Due 4/11/2022
1st Quarter campaign financial disclosures cover the period January 16, 2022 through March 31, 2022

2nd Quarter - Due 7/11/2022
2nd Quarter campaign financial disclosures cover the period April 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022

Pre-Primary - Due 7/28/2022
Pre-Primary campaign financial disclosures cover the period July 1, 2022 through July 25, 2022

3rd Quarter - Due 10/11/2022
3rd Quarter campaign financial disclosures cover the period July 26, 2022 through September 30, 2022

Pre-General - Due 11/1/2022
Pre-General campaign financial disclosures cover the period October 1, 2022 through October 29, 2022

4th Quarter - Due 1/25/2023
4th Quarter campaign financial disclosures cover the period October 30, 2022 through January 15, 2023

*For additional information on filing deadlines, please refer to the Registry’s website.

 

Interim Reports.  In addition, effective July 1, 2022, PACs are required to file Interim Reports to report major contributions, loans, expenditures, and/or obligations during the final days of a campaign, as required by T.C.A. § 2-10-105(h). Such contributions, loans, expenditures, and/or obligations must be reported if they are received/incurred during the period beginning at midnight of the 10th day prior to any election in which the candidates or committees are involved and extending through midnight of such election day.

Each PAC must disclose the full name and address of each person or other PAC from whom the filer received and accepted a contribution, loan, or transfer of funds and the date of receipt of such contribution, loan, or transfer of funds which, in the aggregate, equals or exceeds the following: for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for any statewide office, five thousand dollars ($5,000); for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for senate, three thousand dollars ($3,000); for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for any other state or local public office, one thousand dollars ($1,000). Such contributions or loans must be reflected on any subsequent campaign financial disclosure statement required by law.

Further, each PAC must disclose the full name and address of each person or recipient entity who was paid or to whom an obligation is owed which equals or exceeds the following: for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for any statewide office, five thousand dollars ($5,000); for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for senate, three thousand dollars ($3,000); for a PAC participating in the election of a candidate for any other state or local public office, one thousand dollars ($1,000). Such expenditures or obligations must be reflected on any subsequent campaign financial disclosure statement required by law.

This report must be filed with the Registry of Election Finance or the county election commission, whichever is required by law, by the end of the next business day following the day on which the contribution or expenditure to be reported is received or made.  If such time falls other than during regular working hours, the report shall be filed after the opening of the office of the Registry or election commission on the next working day.  These reports must be filed on a rolling basis.

For more information on how to complete this report, see the Interim Report Instructions booklet.

No.  The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that barring nonpartisan political action committees from donating to candidates within 10 days of an election violates the state constitution.  This ruling enjoined T.C.A. § 2-10-117, which required a 10 day “blackout period” for nonpartisan PACs. Further, this statutory provision was deleted from the Code by the legislature in 2022.  (Public Chapter 1087 (2022)).

Yes, PACs can file their campaign financial disclosure statements electronically.  The electronic filing system is an Internet based software maintained by the Registry.  T.C.A. § 2-10-211.  If you are interested in filing your PAC's campaign financial disclosure reports electronically you will need to submit a PAC ID and Password Registration form to the Registry.  The form can also be faxed, mailed, and/or emailed to you. 

While the electronic filing system is easy to use, if you feel you need training or you just have questions, please contact us at (615) 741-7959.  If you would like to see a demo of the system, go https://apps.tn.gov/tncamp/ and click on the "online demo" link.

The Registry of Election Finance is required to notify a PAC fourteen (14) days before any report is due.  The county election commission is required to give seven (7) days’ notice for any report due in the county.  T.C.A. § 2-10-103(a)(4) and T.C.A. § 2-10-206(a)(9). 

However, all filers are responsible for ensuring that campaign financial disclosure reports are timely filed and that all contact information is kept up to date.  The Registry often sends important items by certified mail, so it is important that all filers retrieve their certified mail as directed by the US Postal Service and/or provide a valid mailing address for this purpose.

The following are NOT campaign contributions and are not required to be reported:

                a)    Volunteer Work.  Services, including expenses provided without compensation by a candidate, or any individuals who volunteer a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate are not contributions.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)(A).

                b)    Publicity.  Not included within the meaning of contribution is any news story, commentary or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned wholly or in part or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)(B).

                c)    Voter Registration Efforts.  Any nonpartisan activity designed to encourage individuals to vote or to register to vote is not considered a campaign contribution.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)(C).

                d)    Internal Communications.  Not included within the meaning of contribution is any written, oral, or electronically transmitted communication by any membership organization or corporation to its members or stockholders, if such membership organization or corporation is not organized primarily for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election or election of any person to public office.  However, if the organization or corporation simply finances the dissemination, distribution, or republication in whole or in part of campaign materials prepared by the candidate or candidate’s committee, then such financing shall be considered a campaign contribution.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)(D).

                e)    Other Candidate-Related Activities.  Not included within the meaning of contribution is the use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food and beverages not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100), voluntarily provided on an individual’s residential premises for candidate-related activities.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4)(E).

Pursuant to the Campaign Contribution Limits Act of 1995, T.C.A. 2-10-301, et seq., there are limits on how much monies that a person or a PAC may contribute to a candidate’s campaign per election and how much monies that a candidate may accept for an election from a person or PAC. Those dollar limitations are based on the office sought by the candidate.  Those limits are as follows: 

Contribution Limits

For purposes of dollar limitations, a primary election, general election, run-off election or special election are each considered a separate election with separate contribution limits.  For example, a candidate for state house in the August primary election could accept $1,600 from John Doe, and if a runoff election is required, the candidate could accept another $1,600 from John Doe for the runoff election.  Further, if the candidate is successful in the runoff election and also runs in the general election, he/she could accept another $1,600 from John Doe for the general election.

Affiliated PACs.  Pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-10-303(4), campaign contributions made to candidates by affiliated PACs shall be considered made by a single PAC. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 2-10-102(1), "Affiliated political campaign committees" are defined as follows:

1) “Affiliated political campaign committees” means political campaign committees established, financed, maintained, or controlled by any corporation, labor organization, or any other person, including any parent, subsidiary, branch, division, department, or local unit of such corporation, labor organization, or any other person, or by any group of such persons.

a) All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single corporation and/or its subsidiaries shall be affiliated political campaign committees;

b) All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single national or international union and/or its local unions or other subordinate organizations shall be affiliated political campaign committees;

(c) All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a single national or international union and/or all its state and the local central bodies shall be affiliated political campaign committees, but such committees shall not be affiliated with the political campaign committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by any union that is a member of the organization;

d) All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by a membership organization, other than political party committees, including trade or professional associations and/or related state and local entities of that organization or group shall be affiliated political campaign committees;

e) All committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by the same person or group of persons shall be affiliated political campaign committees;

f) Owners, officers, employees, members or other individuals associated with a corporation, labor organization, membership organization or any other person or group of persons that has established, financed, maintained or controlled a political campaign committee shall not be considered affiliated with such political campaign committees.

Campaign contributions made by cash or a written instrument, such as a check, as well as in-kind contributions, are subject to the contribution limitations of the law. 

Loans may also be considered a campaign contribution and subject to the contribution limits. A person making a loan to a candidate from their personal monies shall be considered to have made a contribution, subject to the contribution limitations, in the amount of the outstanding loan.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(4).  A person who endorses or guarantees a candidate's campaign loan shall be considered to have made a contribution, subject to the contribution limitations, to the candidate's campaign in the amount of the endorsement or guaranty.  Where the portion of the loan for which the endorser or guarantor is liable is not specified in the written agreement, each endorser or guarantor shall be considered to have made a contribution in that proportion of the unpaid balance that each endorser or guarantor bears to the total number of endorsers or guarantors. 

Blackout Periods.  From the convening of the General Assembly in organizational session through the earlier of June 1 or the last day of regular session in odd numbered years and from the convening of regular legislative session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of annual session in even numbered years and from the convening of an extraordinary session through the conclusion of extraordinary session, the governor or a legislator may not have a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the governor or legislator's benefit or for the benefit of another legislative candidate or gubernatorial candidate, a political party legislative caucus PAC or any member of a political party legislative caucus PAC.  T.C.A. § 2-10-310(a)(1).

Contributions which are made and postmarked/shipped prior to the start of the legislative session may be received and deposited into a campaign account after the start of legislative session.  If this occurs, the recipient should make every effort to deposit the contribution as soon as possible and should maintain a copy of the envelope in which the contribution was mailed in order to substantiate the date of postmark or shipping date.  At a minimum, such contributions must be deposited within a reasonable time after the date of receipt.  Such contributions should be reported as received on the date of the postmark/ship date provided by the carrier. 

Contributions which are made and delivered to the intended recipient by hand prior to the start of legislative session may also be deposited into a campaign account after the start of legislative session.  If this occurs, the contribution must be dated prior to the start of session and every effort should be made to substantiate the receipt/delivery of the contribution prior to the start of legislative session.  At a minimum, such contributions must be deposited within a reasonable time after the date of receipt.  Such contributions should be reported as received on the date the contribution was actually received by the recipient. 

Additionally, from the convening of the General Assembly in organizational session through the earlier of June 1 or the last day of regular session in odd numbered years and from the convening of regular legislative session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of annual session in even numbered years and from the convening of an extraordinary session through the conclusion of extraordinary session, a political party PAC is prohibited from conducting a fundraiser, soliciting or accepting campaign contributions for the benefit of a legislative candidate, gubernatorial candidate, a caucus or any caucus member.  T.C.A. § 2-10-310(b).

An employer of a lobbyist or a PAC controlled by an employer of a lobbyist is prohibited from making a campaign contribution to a gubernatorial or legislative candidate during regular or extraordinary legislative session.  T.C.A. § 3-6-304.

Yes, beginning on June 1, 2011, corporate contributions are allowed to be made to candidates and PACs in Tennessee.  Corporations making campaign contributions totaling over $1,000 in the aggregate to candidates in a calendar year must register as a PAC and file campaign financial disclosure reports.

All campaign funds must be kept at all times in a separate and segregated bank account from other funds, including personal funds.  Corporate PACs should create a separate and segregated bank account for purposes of campaign funds, which are to be maintained separately from other corporate and organizational funds.  T.C.A. § 2-10-106(b) (2022).

No person may make cash contributions to any candidate that, in the aggregate, exceeds $50.00 per election. Therefore, cash contributions are not prohibited, but are discouraged. PACs may NOT make cash contributions to candidates. T.C.A. § 2-10-311(a), T.C.A. § 2-10-311(b) and T.C.A. § 2-10-311(c).

No, there are no limits on the amount of contributions that may be made to a PAC.

Whenever a due date for a campaign financial disclosure statement falls on a weekend day or holiday, such report is due to be filed with the Registry of Election Finance or the county election commission, whichever is required, on the next business day. Rule 0530-1-1-.05(5)

“Filed” means the date that the Registry or county election commission actually receives the candidate or committee’s disclosure statement or the date of the postmark, if the statement is mailed by certified or registered mail.  T.C.A. § 2-10-102(7)

A campaign account may be closed out at any time when the political campaign committee has filed a campaign financial disclosure statement that shows no unexpended balance, no continuing debts or obligations, and no expenditure deficit.  In addition, if a PAC is operating in several states, they may close in Tennessee by notifying the Registry with their last report in writing that the PAC is now closed in Tennessee.

No additional reports are required after a campaign account is properly closed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-107(b).

All campaign funds must be deposited into and maintained in a financial institution insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation (FDIC) or the national credit union administration duly authorized to do business in Tennessee and operating under the authority of the department of financial institutions, the United States Comptroller of the currency, or the federal reserve board.  T.C.A. § 2-10-131(a).  Any interest, dividends, or income earned on campaign funds must be reported on the PAC’s campaign financial disclosure reports.  T.C.A. § 2-10-131(b).  Any campaign contribution received in a non-monetary form may be held in the form received until the contribution is used to pay expenditures. The funds must be deposited in accordance with the requirements above at the time of conversion.  T.C.A. § 2-10-131(c).

All campaign funds must be kept at all times in a separate and segregated bank account from other funds, including personal funds and corporate/organizational funds.  Corporate PACs should create a separate and segregated bank account for purposes of campaign funds, which are to be maintained separately from other corporate and organizational funds.  T.C.A. § 2-10-106(b) (2022). 

PACs registered at the federal level and/or in two or more states of the United States do not need to establish a bank account dedicated for Tennessee funds, provided that all other regulations relating to campaign funds in Tennessee are observed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-106(b) (2022).

Within ten (10) business days of the receipt of a campaign contribution, a political campaign committee is required to deposit the contribution into the PACs campaign bank account.  For contributions received from a single source during a reporting period which total more than $100, a committee is required to maintain a listing of the names and addresses of those contributors and the amount and date of the contributions made by those contributors.  Rule 0530-1-1-.02(2).

Additionally, political campaign committees must maintain copies of all checks, money orders, wire or account transfer statements, withdrawal statements, credit or debit statements, bank statements, vendor receipts, and other documentation directly resulting from a financial transaction involving the receipt or disbursement of any funds subject to disclosure for two (2) years after the date of the election to which the records refer.  T.C.A. § 2-10-212(c) (2022).  When feasible, a committee should make copies of campaign contribution checks.  Rule 0530-1-1-.02(5) and Rule 0530-1-1-.02(6).

Campaign bank account reconciliations must be performed by a PAC to ensure that the bank account balances with the financial disclosure reports filed by the committee.  Rule 0530-1-1-.02(8).

All financial records used by a PAC to prepare a campaign financial disclosure statement must be retained for at least two (2) years after the date of election to which the records refer.  T.C.A. § 2-10-105(f); § 2-10-212(c) (2022).

If investigative procedures or an administrative hearing have been initiated against a political campaign committee, financial records relating to a campaign account must be maintained by the committee until the investigation or administrative hearing has been completed.  Rule 0530-1-1-.02(7).

The Registry of Election Finance and each county election commission shall maintain all reports filed with their respective offices for five (5) years.  These records will be available for public inspection and copying.  T.C.A. § 2-10-206(a)(8).

2004 elections forward. Campaign financial disclosure reports are available online. Go to https://apps.tn.gov/tncamp/ and click on the "Search Database" tab to find PAC and Candidate reports.

Prior to 2004 Elections. In order to inspect or obtain copies of campaign financial disclosure statements filed by state candidates and PACs prior to 2004, you may come to the Registry's office to inspect records (an appointment is recommended, but not required) or you may request copies by mail or email, if available. Copies of campaign
financial disclosure statements filed by local candidates may be obtained at
the local county election commission. You will need to check with the local county election commission in order to determine their fees.

The Registry of Election Finance has the authority to impose civil penalties against a PAC for failing to file a statement on time and ignoring subsequent warnings about the required report.  The Registry also has the authority to impose civil penalties for other violations.  T.C.A. § 2-10-207(6) and T.C.A. § 2-10-207(7).

CLASS ONE (1) OFFENSES.  The Registry may impose class one (1) civil penalties of twenty-five dollars ($25) a day up to a maximum of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) for the late filing of any campaign financial disclosure report required to be filed either with the Registry or the county election commission.  The law sets specific procedures that must be followed whenever the Registry or a county election commission discovers that a required report has not been filed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(a)(1).

The Registry staff or the county election commission, whichever office should have received a required campaign financial disclosure statement, must notify the committee by personal service or by return receipt requested mail that the report has not been received and that civil penalties of twenty-five dollars ($25) a day will begin to accrue five (5) days after receipt of the notice until the report is filed or for thirty (30) days, whichever occurs first.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(a)(1)(A) and T.C.A. § 2-10-110(a)(1)(B).

A candidate that files the required report within that five-day grace period will not be subject to civil penalties.

It is the PACs responsibility to ensure that contact information on file with the Registry and/or the local election commission is up to date and that the PAC is regularly checking/accepting mail. 

CLASS TWO (2) OFFENSES.  The Registry also has the authority to impose civil penalties of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or fifteen percent (15%) of the amount in controversy, whichever is greater, for a class two (2) offense involving both state and local elections.  A class two offense is the failure to file a report within thirty-five (35) days of service of notice of a delinquent report or any other violation of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(a)(2).

The law requires the Registry staff to send an assessment letter to the committee before any class two (2) civil penalties are imposed by the Registry, advising the committee of the factual basis of the violation, the maximum penalty possible, and the date that a response must be filed.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(a)(2).

 VIOLATIONS OF THE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS LIMITS ACT OF 1995.  The Registry is empowered to impose a maximum civil penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or one hundred fifteen percent (115%) of the amount of all contributions made or accepted in excess of the limitations of the Act, whichever is greater.  T.C.A. § 2-10-308(a).

A campaign contribution made or accepted in excess of the limitations of this Act shall not be a violation if the candidate refunds or returns the contribution to the person or committee making the contribution within sixty (60) days of its receipt.  T.C.A. § 2-10-307(b).

CONTESTED PENALTIES.  To request reconsideration of any penalty imposed by the Registry, a candidate or committee may file a request for reconsideration with the Registry within ten (10) days after the date that an assessment order is issued to request that the Registry reconsider its assessment.  Any such request should explain, with particularity, why the civil penalty should be reduced and/or waived.  Such a request must be submitted in writing, either by U.S. Mail, electronic mail, facsimile, and/or hand delivery.

To appeal any penalty imposed by the Registry, a candidate or committee must file a written petition with the Registry within thirty (30) days after the date that the order is issued to request a contested case hearing before an Administrative Law Judge pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA).  T.C.A. § 4-5-101 et. seq.  Pursuant to the Campaign Financial Disclosure Law, T.C.A. § 2-10-101, et seq., in any administrative appeal, it is the Petitioner’s burden and responsibility to provide information to the Court which demonstrates that the civil penalty assessed by the Registry was improper and/or should be set aside.

An assessment order issued by the Registry becomes final and cannot be appealed thirty (30) days after it has been issued.  T.C.A. § 2-10-308(c), T.C.A. § 2-10-308(d), Rule 0530-1-1-.12(3) and Rule 0530-1-1-.12(4).

Effective July 1, 2022, for any civil penalty that is assessed against a multi-candidate political campaign committee (PAC) by the Registry, any person who directly controlled expenditures (i.e., responsible individuals) are personally liable for payment of the penalty.  Further, for any civil penalty that is assessed against a multi-candidate political campaign committee (PAC) that named one or more candidates as a treasurer or officer at the time an offense occurred, or was constructively controlled or directed by one or more candidates in the commission of an offense, the candidate, or candidates, and any person who directly controlled expenditures for the committee are personally liable for the penalty.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(f)(1) (2022). 

If a civil penalty, as well as any assessed costs, are not paid within thirty days after the assessment becomes final, the PAC owing the civil penalty is prohibited from receiving contributions; making expenditures to support or oppose candidates; or making expenditures to other PACs.  Further, the treasure and officers of the PAC are prohibited from creating another PAC or serving as a treasurer or officer for another PAC until the penalty and all costs are paid in full.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(f)(2).

For any civil penalty that is assessed against a PAC by the Registry, the treasurer of the PAC and the officers of the PAC are ineligible to qualify to run for office until the penalty is paid.  T.C.A. § 2-10-110(f)(3).

It is unlawful for a responsible party of a PAC who has a prior civil penalty assessment record to intentionally fail to file a required quarterly campaign disclosure report.  In this context, a "responsible party" includes the PAC treasurer or if no treasurer has been appointed, any person who organizes or directs the fundraising activities of a PAC.  T.C.A. § 2-10-118.  The responsible party is considered to have a prior assessment record if during the person's service as a responsible party to one or more PACs the committee(s), the person violates the campaign finance law on two (2) or more occasions and those violations result in a civil penalty assessment against the PAC(s).  T.C.A. § 2-10-118.  Violation of this statute is a Class E felony, and the Registry of Election Finance may refer any matters it deems as potentially violative of this statute to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for prosecution.  T.C.A. § 2-10-207(7).

ON ITS OWN INITIATIVE.  The Registry of Election Finance may, on its own initiative, conduct an investigation whenever it believes that a violation of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act may have occurred.  If the Registry investigates the records of any selected candidate, it may also investigate the records of all other candidates running for the same office in the same district or other appropriate geographic area.  The Registry has the authority to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel the production of books, correspondence, papers, and other records.  T.C.A. § 2-10-206(a)(7) and T.C.A. § 2-10-213(a)(2).

UPON SWORN COMPLAINTS.  An investigation also may be based on a sworn complaint.  A registered voter of Tennessee may file a sworn complaint alleging that a statement filed regarding an election for which that voter was registered to vote does not conform to the law, that a statement filed is not accurate, or that a person has failed to file a statement required by law. 

All sworn complaints on a statement of a statewide political campaign committee must be filed with the Registry of Election Finance.  T.C.A. § 2-10-108(b) (2022).  All sworn complaints on a statement of a local political campaign committee must be filed in the office of the district attorney general who represents the judicial district in which the voter resides.  T.C.A. § 2-10-108(c) (2022).

The Registry of Election Finance may issue written advisory opinions when questions arise about the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act and its requirements. Anyone wishing to receive guidance on his or her own campaign finance activities should contact the Registry prior to undertaking the questioned activity. The Registry will issue written advisory opinions to individuals based on written requests describing specific facts and circumstances. The Registry will issue opinions only as to prospective activities. A candidate may rely upon an advisory opinion without threat of sanction with respect to the particular issues addressed if the candidate conforms his or her conduct to the requirements of the advisory opinion.  T.C.A. § 2-10-207(2)

No.  Federal law prohibits contributions, donations, expenditures (including independent expenditures) and disbursements solicited, directed, received or made directly or indirectly by or from foreign nationals in connection with any federal, state or local election. In addition, foreign nationals are prohibited from participating in decisions involving election-related activities.

It is a violation of federal law to knowingly accept such donations from a foreign national.

An individual who is not a citizen of the United States is eligible to make a contribution if he or she has a “green card” indicating that he or she is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.  This exception does not extend to individuals holding a temporary or student visa.

For more information on this federal law, visit: https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-andcommittees/ foreign-nationals/