Wednesday, September 8, 2010
WHAT I LEARNED
I have done some extensive research in the past couple months and learned some valuable information. This information will be an asset to a few people, and for the rest of the readers, a bit of "trivia" now and then enhances one's education.
1. Any Club, or group functioning as a Club, that raises money for any political type of donation MUST file Campaign Finance Reports, pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code Section 3517.11. (For those unfamiliar with the ORC referred to, it is Ohio State LAW.)
2. The last known report to be filed for a group I have knowledge of was June 11, 2010 called the Post-Primary Report. This report was to disclose to the State all financial activity from April 14 to June 4 of this year.
3. The next report that was REQUIRED to be filed was the SemiAnnual Report for activity from June 4 to to June 30. That report was due to be submitted to a state entity on July 30.
4. Failure to file said report due on July 30 is a violation of ORC 3517.10(A)(3), according to the Secretary of State's office. The failure to file reports is detailed in ORC 3517.13.
5. After reading ORC 3517.99, I learned that the penalty for failure to file reports that are mandated by the State of Ohio can result in monetary fines as determined by the Ohio Elections Commission, pursuant to the level of the violation (i.e. violation made knowingly; violation not prompty corrected; or whether the circumstances merit just a minimum fine).
6. On another topic, I learned that any public political advertising, which includes newspapers, magazines, flyers, handbills, tickets, or booklets of a printed matter, must include what's called a "disclaimer." A disclaimer is - who paid for the item to be distributed. This information was derived from ORC 3517.20 and states that the disclaimer must contain the name and address of the CURRENT chairperson, treasurer, or secretary of the contributing entity. This disclaimer must be in a conspicuous place (usually at the bottom) on each item. It is NOT proper to use the name of a FORMER chairperson, treasurer, or secretary of the entity. Items such as balloons, pencils, and campaign buttons are exempt from the disclaimer law.
7. Section (D) of ORC 3517.20 states that before a prosecution may commence under this section (of law), a complaint must be filed with the Ohio Elections Commission.
8. Continuing, I read ORC 3501.08, which states that each member of the Board of Elections must take an official OATH to support the United States and State constitution, enforce election laws, and preserve the records of the Board. These Oath's are signed and filed with the Clerk of Court of Common Pleas.
9. ORC 3503.011 states that "At a primary election every qualified voter is or will be on the day of the next general election 18 or more years of age, and who is a member of OR is AFFILIATED with the political party whose primary election ballot he desires to vote, shall be entitled to vote such ballot at the primary election." In early voting, a declaration of party is valid at voting and does not have to be delayed until certification of the ballots after the primary.
10. According to the Secretary of State's website on Campaign Finance, A political CLUB is formed primarily for social purposes and consists of 100 members or less, has officers and periodic meetings, has less than $2,500 in its treasury at all times, and makes an aggregate total contribution of $1,000 or less per calendar year.
11. There exists the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. The Act requires political committies or clubs to register with the FEC once its contributions or expenditures exceed $1,000 in a calendar year. After the entity crosses that threshold, it MUST register with the FEC within 10 days and periodically report all financial activities. According to the FEC Guide, which explains the Act and its rules, all financial reports must be made on time, as the Commission cannot grant extension to reporting deadlines. Filing late, or not filing reports, may result in enforcement action, including administrative fines. Disclaimers must be included on public communications, therefore, the rules are similar to State law.
12. Once a CLUB exceeds their limits by LAW, they are considered a PAC - Political Action Committee. A PAC is a group, regardless of size, organized to contribute to political candidates. The Secretary of State's website details what should be included in the ByLaws for a PAC. PAC's were originally created by Congress in 1944 to allow unions to get around the Smith-Connally Act, which banned direct union contributions to candidates. There are non-connected PAC's and Leadership PAC's, which are primarily for members of Congress. As of January 2009, there were almost 1600 PAC's in this country. PAC's must register with the FEC upon formation, or as previously noted, within 10 days of exceeding CLUB LAWS.
13. A PAC can give up to $5,000 to a candidate per election, and up to $15,000 annually to any party committee. PAC's may receive up to $5,000 in a single donation per year, in contrast with Club's $200 limit. There are currently approximately 28 registered Ohio PAC's.
14. Finally, the Secretary of State may remove or suspend from office, any member of a board of elections, the director or deputy director, for neglect of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, or any willful violation of the Ohio Revised Code.
(Malfeasance - the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful or contrary to law, wrongdoing or violation of public trust. Misfeasance - a wrong, actual or alleged, wrongful exercise of lawful authority. Nonfeasance - the omission of some act that should have been performed.)
I wonder if some public officials are abiding by these laws?