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 Contributions

Pages Regarding Campaign Finance

General Instructions

Contributions

Loans

Expenditures

Closing a Campaign

This is a first of a five-part summary of campaign activity and reporting requirements in West Virginia.  Use the bar above to view the pages on contributions, loans, expenditures, and closing a campaign.  Use the links below for topics on this page. 

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Basic Rules
  Anonymous Contributions

Corporate Contributions

Membership Organizations
   Fundraisers
   In-Kind Contributions
 

Other Receipts

 




Basic Rules for Contributions 

  • A contribution is money or any thing of value received by a candidate or committee for the purpose of advocating or opposing the election or defeat of any candidate.  

What must be reported? 

  1. You must report the full name of the person or group that contributed money and the amount. All money must be reported.
  2. When a contribution comes in the form of a check drawn on a joint account, the person signing the check is the contributor, unless the parties specifically tell you otherwise.
  3. If the contribution is more than $50.00 ($50.01 and up), the contribution cannot be cash. The contribution may be made by check, money order, credit card, or electronic fund transfer. You cannot accept foreign currency.
  4. If contributions received from an individual or committee relating to an election total more than $250.00 ($250.01 and up), you must also report the residence or mailing address of the individual or committee.
  5. If the contributor is a person, you must also report what the contributor does to earn a living (occupation) and the individual's primary employer or business association, such as a company the contributor owns (business affiliation).
  6. If the contributor is a committee, you must report the committee's affiliation (the group with which the committee is associated, such as the corporation connected to a corporate PAC).

Contribution Limits 

  • The maximum contribution allowed to any campaign for nomination or election to any office is $1,000.00 ($1,000.00 for the primary election and $1,000.00 for the general election). However, a candidate may contribute any amount to his or her individual campaign committee.
  • The maximum allowed contribution to any political action committee which supports or opposes candidates is $1,000 for the primary election and $1,000 for the general election. Committees which support or oppose only ballot issues are not subject to the contribution limits.
  • Please Note: Non-federal candidates running for office in West Virginia cannot accept contributions from an IRS 527 organization.

 Candidates Contribution

  • If a candidate spends his or her own money in the campaign, that amount must be treated either as a contribution or a loan. If the money is listed as a contribution, that money cannot be returned. If a candidate hopes to recover part of the money at the end of the campaign, a loan must be executed in writing and reported under the loan section. Without a completed loan agreement, the candidate's money is a contribution. For more information, go to Loans.

After the Campaign

  • A candidate may not accept more contributions after all the bills and loans are paid. For example, a candidate in 2000 can't use his or her 2000 committee to continue fundraising for a future election.  

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Anonymous Contributions 

  1. If you can identify the donor (such as money accompanied by a request to keep the donor's identity private), you must either report the donor's identity or return the contribution to the donor. 
  2. If you cannot identify the donor, you must turn the money over to the State of West Virginia General Fund. Send an amount equal to the total of the anonymous contribution(s) for the reporting period to the State of West Virginia General Fund, c/o Secretary of State, Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, WV 25305-0770.
  3. On your campaign finance report, list each anonymous contribution and the amount and date on the contributions section of the report. Then, list the amount you sent from your campaign to the State of West Virginia General Fund in the expenditures section of the report. 
  4. DO NOT SPEND ANONYMOUS CONTRIBUTIONS FOR YOUR CAMPAIGN. 

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Corporate Contributions and Corporate PAC's 

  1. Corporations may NOT make direct political contributions, either of money or in-kind support, to candidates or candidate committees.  Corporations may however make direct political contributions to committees who make independent expenditures. Direct corporate contributions are limited to $1,000.

  2. Corporations may set up a separate, segregated fund called a Political Action Committee (PAC) which may solicit political contributions only from officers, directors, stockholders, and administrative personnel. These PACs may contribute to candidates and/or issues. The corporation may provide only administrative support to the PAC.

  3. Committees which support or oppose only ballot issues may receive corporate contributions.

  4. The only exceptions are the following organizations which ARE PERMITTED to donate in certain limited amounts to candidates.  Each of the following organizations may contribute to a candidate at a limit of $1,000 per partner and per election.  Contributions from the organization to candidates must be equally distributed among the partners, and all partners must be individually listed on the financial report.  Once these partners have contributed through one of the organizations listed below, their contribution is accumulatively added to their overall $1,000 limit per candidate, per election (Their personal and partnership contributions must accumulatively be less than $1,000 overall for one candidate).

    1. Sole Proprietorship
    2. Partnership
    3. LLC

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Membership Organizations 

  1. Some political action committees may be considered "membership organizations" under state law. A membership organization is a group that grants certain rights and privileges to its members, such as the right to vote or hold an office within that organization, or uses a majority of its membership dues for purposes other than political purposes.
  2. Contributions to membership organizations often take the form of payroll deductions. If the deduction (or portion of dues) which goes to the PAC or is used for political purposes equals $25.00 or less per member during a calendar year, it can be reported by showing the amount each member paid and the number of members. For example, if the payroll deduction is $3.00 per calendar year for 25 employees, it would be listed as: "25 employees @ $3.00 each = $75.00".
  3. If the payroll deductions or dues exceed $25.00 per member, the contributions are reported individually, the same as any other contribution. Also, if members make contributions independent of a payroll deduction or other assessment, the contribution must be listed like any other type of contribution.  

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Fundraisers 

  • A fund-raising event is "an event such as a dinner, reception, testimonial, cocktail party, auction or similar affair through which contributions are solicited or received by such means as purchase of a ticket, payment of an attendance fee or through the purchase of goods or services." (WV Code §3-8-5b). This definition also covers sales of food at bake sales or fair booths, memorabilia, T-shirts, buttons, and other items. 

About Raffles 

  • Although raffles are commonly thought of as fundraisers, candidates are prohibited by WV Code §47-21-2 from holding raffles. Other organizations must have a license to conduct raffles, but among political organizations, only political party executive committees are eligible to obtain a license.  

Don't Pass the Hat! 

  • "Passing the hat" at meet-the-candidate dinners or other types of fundraisers usually brings in money anonymously. If the contributor can't be identified, the money will have to be turned over to the state.  

How to report a Fundraising Event  

  1. Fill out the event summary. The information in the event summary is required by law. (WV Code §3- 8-5a).
  2. List the date of the event, the type of event (reception, dinner, etc.), place, address.
  3. After the contributions and expenditures are completed, enter the total contributions and total expenditures. To get the net receipt, subtract total expenditures from total receipts.
  4. List all contributors' names and amounts received through the fundraiser. If a contribution is more than $250.00, or if that person or committee's total contributions to the candidate or committee for the election are more than $250.00, you must also list the contributor's address, and in the case of a person, what that person does to earn a living (occupation), and where that person works (business affiliation). For a committee, list the organization, business, union or other group with which it is affiliated. Contributions of more than $50.00 cannot be cash. The contribution may be made by check, money order, credit card, or electronic fund transfer. Foreign currency cannot be used.
  5. If a person or political action committee contributes things of value such as food, entertainment, or other non-cash items for use in putting on the fundraiser, be sure to report those as in-kind contributions in that section. See In-Kind Contributions for more information.
  6. List all itemized expenses (such as invitations, food, hall rentals) relating to any fund-raising event in the expenditure section. Only the total expenditures will be entered in the fundraiser section. 
  7. The total contributions received at all fundraising events will appear on the report summary.

Exceptions 

  • In 1994, the West Virginia Legislature passed a law that would allow political party executive committees to hold certain fundraisers without necessarily reporting individual contributions of monies received at those fundraisers. Only fundraisers that involve the sale of food, beverages, services, novelty items, raffle tickets, or memorabilia may take advantage of this exception, as long as the total profits from such fundraisers do not exceed $5,000 in a calendar year. The names of individuals who spend less than $50.00 a year do not need to be reported. Organizations that hold fundraisers need not report itemized contributions if the total profit is less than $5,000. If individuals or organizations make purchases of more than $50.00, or if the total profits from all such fundraisers exceed $5,000, the normal reporting requirements apply, and all names of all contributors and the amount they contributed must be reported. THIS EXCEPTION APPLIES ONLY TO POLITICAL PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES. 

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In-Kind Contributions 

  • Contributions of things of value must be reported as in-kind contributions. Some examples include:
  • Use of a car, an office or building; services of an employee who is paid by another person.
  • Use of office equipment or telephones for campaign purposes.
  • Material for campaign signs.
  • Food for a fund-raising reception.  

How to report In-Kind Contributions 

  1. List the name of the contributor and the date the item was donated. Assign a reasonable value to the contribution.
  2. If a person donates more than $250.00, remember to include the address, what the donor does for a living, and the place where the donor works.
  3. If a committee donates more than $250.00, include the committee's address and its affiliation. The affiliation is the group with whom it is associated.
  4. Remember that the $1,000.00 donation limit applies also to in-kind contributions, and one donor's cash plus in-kind contributions are subject to the limit.

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Other Receipts 

  • Receipts which are not contributions must also be reported. These include refunds on bills paid, interest on investments, checking accounts or savings accounts, sale of equipment, or any income not reported in contributions or in-kind contributions. 

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