Campaign Finance Enforcement

10/15/2020

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States have jurisdiction to enact and enforce their own campaign finance laws for state and local elections. The procedures that regulate the enforcement of state laws governing campaign finance vary among the states. Campaign finance violations may be a civil matter only, or a civil and criminal matter. Therefore, the reporting and enforcement entities that handle campaign finance violations and penalties vary in their power and authority. This research aims to provide an overview of the issue and address which entities have enforcement power.

Below is an interactive map on campaign finance enforcement in the states. Click on a state to see specific details about that state’s laws, agencies, and reporting and enforcement powers.

This webpage is intended to provide general information and does not necessarily address all aspects of this topic.

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Campaign Finance Enforcement

Select the state on the map to learn detailed information on reporting and enforcement powers.

DC PR MP GU AS VI AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

 Alabama

AL flag

Laws/rules: Ala Code: 17-5-19, 17-5-19.1, 17-5-19.2       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State; State Ethics Commission        

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State; State Ethics Commission; Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handle campaign finance reports and can access fines against candidates and committees for reporting violations.                                                                                                      
  • State Ethics Commission: investigates violations, subpoena power and assess administrative fines. The commission can assess administrative penalties or refer cases to the attorney general or a district attorney.                                                           
  • Attorney General/Local prosecutor: Investigations by Commission gets turned over to AG/District Attorney/local prosecutor.     

 Alaska

AK flag

Laws/rules: Alaska Stat. § 15.13.020, 15.13.030, § 15.13.380, § 15.13.385, § 15.13.390       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC)      

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC); Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC): handles campaign finance reporting and may assess penalties/fines against candidates, committees and entities for violations. The commission is also in charge of disclosure enforcement. APOC makes recommendations, issues decision and orders. The orders may be reviewed by the Superior Court. APOC may issue penalties/fines for violations. If fines have not been paid, collection is enforced by the attorney general. Also, the APOC enforces candidate disclosure of public finances.                          
  • Private person: A person who believes a violation has occurred or is occurring may file an administrative complaint with the commission within five years after the date of the alleged violation.
  • Attorney General: criminal violations and fine collection enforcement of disclosure enforcement.

 Arizona

AZ flag

Laws/rules: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-937, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-938, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-957, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-1021

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, State's Elections Division, The Citizens Clean Elections Commission        

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General               

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: handles campaign finance reporting and is authorized to assess fines. Campaign finance enforcement is carried out through a bifurcated enforcement structure:   
  • Initial determinatin by the Secretary of State. 
  • The final decisin of the Attorney General (or other local enforcement officer).    

The overall process: The filing officer will make a preliminary determination. The filing officer generally will refer the matter to the appropriate enforcement officer. The enforcement officer makes the final determination whether a legal violation occurred. If yes, the enforcement may issue a notice of violation to the alleged violator. If the violation has not been timely remedied, the enforcement officer may initiate legal action to secure compliance with campaign finance law. 

  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations

 Arkansas

AR flag

Laws/rules: Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-6-217, Ark. Code Ann. §§ 7-6-218, Ark. Code Ann. § 7-6-202      

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Arkansas Secretary of State - Elections Division, Arkansas Ethics Commission              

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Arkansas Secretary of State - Elections Division, Arkansas Ethics Commission; Attorney General           

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handle campaign finance reporting and its processes. 
  • The Arkansas Ethics Commission: is made up of five members appointed by the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and the speaker of the House. The commission is the compliance and enforcement agency under Arkansas’ standards of conduct and disclosure laws concerning candidates, state and local public officials, lobbyists and committees, and individuals involved with initiatives and referenda. The Commission has the power to impose fines, misdemeanor charges, or turn over cases to local prosecutors. The Commission’s authorities and responsibilities are: (1) drafting or reviewing and approving disclosure forms used by public officials, lobbyists, political action committees, candidates for office, and ballot and legislative question committees; (2) monitoring compliance with disclosure requirements; (3) issuing advisory opinions interpreting the ethics laws assigned to its jurisdiction; (4) investigating alleged violations of the law and determining whether a violation has occurred; (5) holding monthly public meetings and conducting public hearings; (6) issuing disciplinary action for violations of the law, or referring its findings to a prosecuting attorney for criminal proceedings; (7) answering questions regarding Arkansas ethics laws on a daily, informal basis; (8) preparing and distributing educational materials for candidates, elected and appointed officials, lobbyists, political action committees, and ballot and legislative question committees; (9) maintaining report files on all ballot question and legislative question committees registering in accordance with the Disclosure Act for Public Initiatives, Referenda and Measures Referred to Voters and (10) responding to questions and requests for documents under the FOIA.                                                               
  • Attorney General/Local prosecutors: matters investigated by the commission; criminal violations.

 California

CA flag

Laws/rules: Cal. Gov't Code §§ 83100 — 83124; (Cal Gov Code § 91001-91015) - Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 91004, 91005, 91007             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Fair Political Practices Commission; Secretary of State - The Political Reform Division    

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Fair Political Practices Commission; Attorney General           

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles campaign finance reporting and may impose and collect fines for violations.
  • Fair Political Practices Commission: The FPPC has primary responsibility for the impartial and effective administration of the Political Reform Act. FPPC may assume primary responsibility for the impartial, effective administration, implementation, and enforcement of a local campaign finance or government ethics law passed by the local government agency.  FPPC may: (1) Provide advice; (2) Investigate possible violations; (3) Bring administrative actions; (4) Bring civil actions. Most cases are handled through the administrative enforcement process.
  • Private person: Any person can bring a civil action for reporting or other violations after filing a written request with the civil prosecutor if the prosecutor either declines to act or fails to respond within 120 days.                                                                                              
  • Attorney General/Local Prosecutor: criminal violations                                                                                                                                                     

A violation of the act can be pursued in three ways:

1) Administrative proceedings by the Enforcement Division of FPPC.

2) Criminal prosecution by a local district attorney or the state attorney general.

3) Civil action by the public, certain government agencies or the Enforcement Division.

 Colorado

CO flag

Laws/rules: Colo. Const. Art. XXVIII, Section 9 and 10; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-45-111.5, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-45-111.7  

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State - Elections Division           

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State; Attorney General             

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: Administers and enforces reporting requirements. The secretary of state may promulgate rules necessary to administer and enforce campaign finance. Secretary of state conducts initial reviews of complaints, investigations, hearings, document review, issue advisory opinions. Secretary of state may assess penalties/fines; refer complaints to an administrative judge or attorney general. The secretary of state may send to the state controller for collection any outstanding debt resulting from a campaign finance penalty that the secretary deems collectible.                                                                       
  • Attorney general: investigates complaints from secretary of state and criminal violations.                                                                                 
  • Private Enforcement: The state adopted a private enforcement mechanism, under which“[a]ny person who believes that a violation” of the law “has occurred may file a written complaint with the secretary of state” within 180 days of the alleged violation. The secretary of state must then forward that complaint to an administrative law judge (ALJ), who will hold a hearing within 15 days. The ALJ’s decision can be appealed to the Court of Appeals, and then to the Colorado Supreme Court, if it agrees to hear the case.

 Connecticut

CT flag

Laws/rules: Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-623, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-603, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-602, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-7b     

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission        

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission          

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission: The commission enforces the provisions of state laws pertaining to campaign finance. It handles campaign finance reporting processes. The commission: (1) receives and evaluates complaints. (2) investigate complaints or initiate its own investigations. (3) the commission staff drafts proposed commission decisions for dismissals or negotiated resolutions, and when cases proceed to hearing, staff attorneys act as civil prosecutors. (4) collects late filing fees, civil penalties, and forfeitures for violations of state law. (5) collaborates with other agencies with jurisdiction over the election laws, such as the secretary of the state, the chief state's attorney, and the U.S. attorney.                                                                  
  • Attorney General: criminal violations                          

 Delaware

DE flag

Laws/rules: 15 Del. C. §§ 8040 - 8046    

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Department of Elections

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Department of Elections; Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • The Department of Election: the state election commissioner make rules and regulations necessary to implements and enforces the Campaign Financing Act of 1990 and the 2012 Delaware Elections Disclosure Act. It handles all the reporting processes. The commissioner investigates violations of campaign finance law, issues rulings and penalties/fines for reporting violations.                                                                              
  • Private person: any civil remedy on behalf of any injured person may be filed in the Court of Chancery.
  • Attorney General: prosecutes criminal violations. The Delaware Superior Court has jurisdiction over all criminal violations of campaign finance law.

 Florida

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Laws/rules: Fla. Stat. Ann. § 106.011-106.37      

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State-Division of Elections, Elections Commission         

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Elections Commission, Attorney General/local prosecutor

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State/Division of Elections: handles the campaign finance disclosure reports and filings. It provides advisory opinions and conducts audits.
  • Florida Elections Commission: conduct preliminary investigations all violations after having received either a sworn complaint or information reported to it by the division of elections. It may issue reports. Counsel for the commission shall review the investigator’s report and make a written recommendation to the commission. It may conduct hearings of complaints. The commission shall make a preliminary determination to consider the matter or to refer the matter to the state attorney for the judicial circuit in which the alleged violation occurred. The commissioners, in their capacity as quasi-judicial officers, may adjudicate cases. Review of adjudicated cases is conducted by an administrative law judge. The Commission may assess penalties/fines.                                 
  • Private person: Any person having information of any violation may file a sworn complaint with the commission. The commission shall investigate only those alleged violations specifically contained within the sworn complaint.
  • Attorney General: criminal violations.

 Georgia

GA flag

Laws/rules: Ga. Code Ann. § 21-5-6        

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission; Attorney General       

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission: is the agency that administers and enforces the provisions of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act. It collects campaign contribution disclosure reports, personal financial disclosure reports and lobbyist disclosure reports and investigates potential campaign finance violations. Commission staff review filings and inform filers of the appropriate methods to disclose expenditures and collect campaign funds, among other items. The commission handling campaign finance reporting processes and may assesses late fees for reporting violations. 

    Commission staff also investigate potential violations of the act and resolve complaints filed by the public or initiated by the commission itself. Cases before the commission can be resolved prior to a hearing by settlement or dismissal; otherwise, the cases are brought before a hearing officer under the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act. If a violation is found, the commission can impose civil penalties against the violator and/or refer the case for additional prosecution. The commission is to report suspected violations of law to the appropriate law enforcement authority.                           
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: cases referred to it by the commission and criminal violations.

 Hawaii

HI flag

Laws/rules: HRS §§ 11-401 - 11-412       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission      

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission; Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission: administers the campaign finance reporting process. The commission may subpoena witnesses, examine them under oath, and require the production of books, papers, documents, or objects. A complaint may be initiated by the commission or a person. The commission may dismiss the complaint; investigate further; make a preliminary determination; or refer the complaint to an appropriate prosecuting attorney. The Commission has the power to impose penalties/fines. If an administrative fine is imposed, the commission may order that the fine, or any portion, be paid from the candidate's personal funds. If the commission's order is not complied with, the first circuit court will issue an order. Failure to comply with a court order will be punished as contempt.                                                                         
  • Private person: A person alleging violations may file a complaint with the commission.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations. The commission may refer a complaint to the attorney general or county prosecutor at any time it believes the respondent may have recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally committed a violation. A violation may be raised to a level of a misdemeanor or felony.

 Idaho

ID flag

Laws/rules: Idaho Code § 67-6623, Idaho Code § 67-6625; Idaho Code § 67-6601-6628         

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, County Clerks, Attorney General/local prosecutor          

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General/local prosecutor

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: administers the campaign finance reporting process. The secretary of state will investigate statements, alleged failures to file statements, and complaints by any person for any alleged violations. It will report suspected violations of law to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
  • County Clerk: with respect to all local government offices or measures for which the county is the home county, to make investigations of statements for alleged failures to file any required statement and of any complaint filed by any person. The county clerk shall report any suspected violations to a local government office or measure to the county prosecutor.              
  • Private person: any citizen may seek injunctive relief, in the district court, to enforce campaign finance laws.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: The attorney general or the appropriate prosecuting attorney may prosecute any violations of this act. Civil fines may not exceed $250 individual, and not more than $ 2,500 for person other than an individual. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates campaign finance laws may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may be imprisoned for not more than six (6) months or be both fined and imprisoned.

 Illinois

IL flag

Laws/rules: 10 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/9-1 — 5/9-45)           

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Illinois State Board of Elections            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Illinois State Board of Elections   

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Illinois State Board of Elections: handles campaign finance processes and reports for candidates and political committees. The board administers the Campaign Financing Act and closely monitors campaign expenditures. The board may hold investigations, inquiries, and hearings concerning any matter covered by the act. The board may administer oaths and affirmations, certify to all official acts, issue subpoenas to be authorized by a vote of five members of the board, compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses, and the production of papers, books, accounts, and documents. The board may assess civil penalties/fines and turn over evidence to local prosecutors.                                                                                          
  • Private person: any person may file a complaint to the Board. If, at a hearing, it is denied or not acted upon, may seek judicial review.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations. The appropriate state’s attorney or the attorney general shall bring such actions in the name of the people of the state of Illinois. Willful failure to file or willful filing of false or incomplete information shall constitute a business offense subject to a fine of up to $5,000. Willful filing of a false complaint shall constitute a Class B misdemeanor.

 Indiana

IN flag

Laws/rules: Ind. Code Ann. § 3-9-4-13 - 3-9-4-17             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State’s Election Division, county election boards, and Election Commission         

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: County Election Boards, Election Commission, Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: The election division, within the secretary of state, administers the campaign finance laws and handles the reporting processes. The division may conduct audits and field investigations with respect to reports and statements, and with respect to an alleged failure to file a report or statement.
  • County Election Boards: are responsible for administering the Campaign Finance Act. The county election board may conduct audits and field investigations with respect to reports and statements, and with respect to an alleged failure to file a report or statement. May assess civil penalties of up to $1,000.
  • Indiana Election Commission: is authorized to assess civil penalties for failure to comply with the law. If an individual or group fails to file a required campaign finance report, the commission can levy fines up to $1,000. The commission is also authorized to investigate alleged violations of the law. The commission may take evidence and issues subpoenas for this purpose. If the commission determines that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, the commission must report the violation to a prosecuting attorney, who can in turn prosecute the case as a criminal matter.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations.

 Iowa

IA flag

Laws/rules: Iowa Code § 68A, §§ 68B.31 — 68B.34A       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Attorney General        

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board: handles the administering and processing of campaign finance disclosure reports. The board enforces the statutes and rules under the Campaign Disclosure Act and the Government Ethics and Lobbying Act. The board administers and sets standards for, investigates complaints relating to campaign finance. The oard will establish and impose penalties, and recommendations for punishment of persons who are subject to penalties of or punishment by the board or by other bodies, for the failure to comply the laws. It may impose penalties upon persons who provide false information to the board during a board investigation of a potential violation. In addition, upon determining that a violation has occurred, the board is authorized to assess civil penalties. The board may petition for judicial enforcement and refer the complaint and supporting information to the attorney general or appropriate county attorney with a recommendation for prosecution or enforcement of criminal penalties.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations.

 Kansas

KS flag

Laws/rules: Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 25-4142 - 4189; § 25-4161            

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission          

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: administers the campaign finance report filing procedures.
  • Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission: administers, interprets, and enforce the state's Campaign Finance Act. The commission may set policy and adopt regulations. The commission investigates complaints and the alleged violation. If the commission finds that probable cause exists for the allegations of the complaint, the commission will schedule a hearing. If the commission finds that the respondent has violated any provisions of the campaign finance act, it shall state its findings of fact and submit a report to the attorney general and to the county or district attorney of the appropriate county. The commission may assess civil fines, after proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, against any person for a violation of the campaign finance act. The commission shall notify the attorney general of any apparent violation of criminal law or other laws not administered by the commission
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: reports from the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. Criminal violations.

 Kentucky

KY flag

Laws/rules: Ky. Rev. Stat. § 121.120; Ky. Rev. Stat. § 121.140; Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 121.100 — 121.230  

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Kentucky Registry of Election Finance             

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, Attorney General         

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Kentucky Registry of Election Finance: administers and enforces the state's campaign finance laws. It handles the campaign finance reporting process. All policy and enforcement decisions concerning the regulation of campaign finance shall be the ultimate responsibility of the registry. The registry may issue orders and subpoenas, administer oaths, render advisory opinions, and conduct investigations and hearings. It may initiate civil actions for injunctive, declaratory, or other appropriate relief, defend, or appeal any civil action in the name of the registry to enforce the campaign finance laws. The registry is authorized to assess civil penalties and forward to the Attorney General or county attorney any violations which may become the subject of civil or criminal prosecution.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: civil or criminal violations.

 Louisiana

LA flag

Laws/rules: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 18:1511.1 — 18:1511.12         

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Louisiana Ethics Administration Program

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Louisiana Ethics Administration Program            

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Louisiana Ethics Administration Program: administers and enforces Louisiana’s campaign finance registration, reporting requirements and lobbyist registration and disclosure laws. Louisiana Ethics Administration Program is overseen by the Louisiana Board of Ethics and the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance. The members of the board of ethics constitute the supervisory committee. The committee may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations. It may render advisory opinions and request clarification or additional information. The committee may assess and issue an order for civil penalties for late filings.The committee has the power and authority to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, compel the production of books, records, and papers, public and private, require the submission under oath of written reports or answers to questions, and to do all that is necessary to enforce the laws. A final order is appealable to an adjudicatory panel of the Ethics Adjudicatory Board which will conduct an adjudicatory hearing and the board will render a final decision. The final decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeal, First Circuit. The committee is authorized to file civil proceedings to collect the civil penalties in district court. It will forward all information concerning the alleged criminal violation to the district attorney.
  • Attorney general/local prosecutor: criminal violations.

 Maine

ME

Laws/rules: 21-A M.R.S. § 1003, §§ 1001 — 1005            

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices        

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices; Attorney General   

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices: an independent state agency that administers Maine's campaign finance laws, the Maine Clean Election Act, and the lobbyist disclosure law. The Commission administer and investigate violations of the campaign finance reporting laws and the Maine Clean Election Act and manages the Maine Clean Election Fund. The commission may issue advisory opinions and conduct investigations, subpoena witnesses and records. A person or entity that fails to obey the subpoena or to testify before it under oath must be punished by the Superior Court for contempt upon application by the attorney general on behalf of the commission. The attorney general may apply on behalf of the commission to the Superior Court or to a court of another state to enforce compliance with a subpoena issued to a nonresident person. The commission may assess civil penalties.
  • Private person: A person may apply in writing to the commission requesting an investigation.
  • Attorney general/local prosecutor: Upon the request of the commission, the attorney general shall aid in any investigation, provide advice, examine any witnesses before the commission or otherwise assist the commission in the performance of its duties. The commission shall refer any apparent violations to the attorney general for prosecution.

 Maryland

MD

Laws/rules: Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 2-102, Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law § 13-327, Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law § 13-335, Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law §§ 13-601-605       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Maryland State Board of Elections            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Maryland State Board of Elections, Attorney General, Maryland State Prosecutor    

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Maryland State Board of Elections: handles the campaign finance report processes. It receives and audits campaign finance reports, account books and records, independent expenditure reports, electioneering communication reports. The state board conducts an audit of every campaign finance report filed to ensure compliance with its laws and regulations. The Board may assess civil penalties/fees.
  • Attorney General, Maryland State Prosecutor/local prosecutor: civil and criminal violations. If the state prosecutor determines that a person unintentionally, and without criminal intent, has violated a provision of the law, the state prosecutor, the state's attorney, or both, shall issue to the person a civil citation. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates a provision of Title 13 is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment. For failed collected fees, the appropriate prosecuting authority may refer the matter to the Central Collection Unit within the Department of Budget and Management.

 

 Massachusetts

MA flag

Laws/rules: Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 55 §§ 1 — 42, § 3, ALM GL ch. 55, § 35

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance 

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance     

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance: administers the state's campaign finance law. The OCPF is an independent state agency that administers Massachusetts General Law, the campaign finance law, and the limited public financing program for statewide candidates. OCPF receives reports filed by hundreds of candidates and committees, reviews them to ensure accurate disclosure and legal compliance, and, where appropriate, conducts legal reviews of campaign finance activity. OCPF's primary mission is to ensure that accurate and complete disclosure of campaign finance activity in a transparent, accessible, and timely manner.
  • The OCPF has the power and authority to investigate all reports and actions required to be filed and taken by candidates, treasurers, political committees, and any other person pertaining to campaign contributions and expenditures. He may require, by summons, the attendance and testimony under oath of witnesses and the production of books and papers relating to any matter being investigated. The OCPF may also assess civil penalties against individuals or groups who fail to file timely reports. The OCPF has the option of referring matters to the Office of the Attorney General for further action.
  • Private person: Any person may file a complaint with a district court, alleging that reasonable grounds exist for believing that a law has been violated and the court may at once hold an inquest to inquire into such alleged violation of law.             
  • Attorney General: civil and criminal violations 

 

 Michigan

MI flag

Laws/rules: Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 169.215; Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 169.217, §§ 169.201 — 169.282

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General               

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles the campaign finance reporting process and receives all statements and reports required by the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. The secretary of state shall investigate the allegations under the rules promulgated under this Act. The secretary of state may commence a hearing to determine whether a civil violation of this act has occurred. If after a hearing the secretary of state determines that a violation of this act has occurred, the secretary of state may issue an order requiring the person to pay a civil fine not more than triple the amount of the improper contribution or expenditure plus not more than $1,000.00 for each violation. A final decision and order issued by the secretary of state is subject to judicial review. The secretary of state may bring an action in circuit court to recover the amount of a civil fine.
  • Private person: A person may file with the secretary of state a complaint that alleges a violation of this act.
  • Attorney General: civil or criminal violations. The secretary of state may refer the matter to the attorney general for the enforcement of a criminal penalty. Also, it may commence a hearing to determine whether a civil violation of this act has occurred.

 

 Minnesota

MN flag

Laws/rules: Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 10A.01 — 10A.51, Chapter 211A. Campaign Financial Reports, Chapter 211B. Fair Campaign Practices            

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board      

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, Attorney General          

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board: administers and enforces the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Act, as well as portions of Chapter 211B, the Fair Campaign Practices act. The board's four major programs are campaign finance registration and disclosure, public subsidy administration, lobbyist registration and disclosure, and economic interest disclosure by public officials. The board can conduct audits and investigate alleged violations of the law. The board has the power to require testimony under oath, to permit written statements to be given under oath, and to issue subpoenas and cause them to be served. If a person does not comply with a subpoena, the board may apply to the District Court of Ramsey County for issuance of an order compelling obedience to the subpoena. A person failing to obey the order is punishable by the court as for contempt. The board may impose statutory civil penalties and issue orders for compliance and refer alleged criminal violations to the attorney general or to a county attorney.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations. The board refers the matter to the attorney general or to a county attorney. The attorney general or the county attorney would decide whether the matter should be charged as a crime. 

 

 Mississippi

Laws/rules: Miss. Code Ann. §§ 23-15-801 — 23-15-821; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-903          

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Mississippi Ethics Commission  

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Mississippi Ethics Commission, Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles the campaign finance disclosure report processes. A candidate or political committee which fails to timely file a campaign finance disclosure report will be assessed a civil penalty. The secretary of state shall compile a list of those candidates and political committees who have failed to file a report. The list shall be provided to the Mississippi Ethics Commission. The secretary of state shall provide each candidate or political committee, who has failed to file a report, notice of the failure by first-class mail.
  • Mississippi Ethics Commission: The Mississippi Ethics Commission shall assess the delinquent candidate and political committee a civil penalty of $50 for each day or part of any day until a valid report is delivered to the secretary of state. In addition to any other penalties provided by law, the Mississippi Ethics Commission may impose administrative penalties against any political committee that fails to comply with the requirements. The Mississippi Ethics Commission may pursue judicial enforcement of any penalties issued pursuant to disclosure of campaign finances. If any candidate or political committee is assessed a civil penalty, and if, after 120 days of the assessment of the fine the payment for the entire amount of the assessed fine has not been received by the commission, the commission shall notify the attorney general of the delinquency, and the attorney general shall file, where necessary, a suit to compel payment of the civil penalty.
  • State Board of Election Commissioners: Upon the sworn application, made within sixty (60) calendar days of the date upon which the required report is due, the secretary of state shall forward the application to the State Board of Election Commissioners. The State Board of Election Commissioners shall appoint one or more hearing officers who shall be former chancellors, circuit court judges, judges of the Court of Appeals or justices of the Supreme Court, to conduct hearings. The right to appeal from the decisions of the hearing officer in an administrative hearing concerning the assessment of civil penalties may be appealed to the Circuit Court of Hinds County.                                                                                                      
  • County Election Commissioners: any person who has reason to believe that any election law has been violated may file a written complaint with the election commissioners of the county in which the alleged violation occurred. If the election commissioners determine the allegations in the complaint, if true, would be a violation, the election commissioners shall refer the complaint to the district attorney for prosecution.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: compel payment of civil penalties and criminal violations. Any candidate or any other person who willfully violates the provisions and prohibitions of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine in a sum not to exceed $3,000 or imprisoned for not longer than six  months or by both fine and imprisonment.

 Missouri

MO flag

Laws/rules: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 130.054, Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 105.955— 105.985             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Missouri Ethics Commission             

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Missouri Ethics Commission

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Missouri Ethics Commission: promote and maintain transparency, accountability, and compliance with campaign finance, lobbying, and conflict of interest laws. The Missouri ethics commission shall promulgate rules establishing the standard for electronic filings and shall propose such rules for the importation of files to the reporting program. The MEC investigates and enforces these laws consistently. The MEC has the authority to receive complaints and conduct audits and investigations to ensure that lobbyists, committees, and public officials are properly filing reports. The MEC also may investigate complaints and assign the complaint to a special investigator, who may be a commission employee, who shall investigate and determine the merits of the complaint. The MEC may assess fines for violations.
  • Private person: any natural person may file a complaint with the Missouri ethics commission alleging failure to timely or accurately file a personal financial disclosure statement, a campaign finance disclosure report, or a violation of the law. Any person may file a civil action in the circuit court, against the alleged violator or violators, seeking a forfeiture to the general revenue of the state of any amount of contributions more than the limits.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: Any person who purposely violates the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

 Montana

MT flag

Laws/rules: Montana Code §§ 13-37-101 — 13-37-131; Mont. Admin. R. Title 44, CHAPTER 11: COPP       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices           

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices            

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Montana Commissioner of Political Practices: is charged to protect and ensure the integrity and transparency of campaigns, politics, and government in Montana. The office monitors and enforces Montana’s campaign finance laws, the ethical standards for legislators, public officers, and state employees, and investigates campaign finance and lobbying complaints. The COPP is an independent and nonpartisan office. It oversees campaign practices and campaign finance disclosure and investigates campaign finance and lobbying complaints. If the commissioner determined that there is sufficient evidence to justify enforcement, the county attorney is notified and is sent a copy of the decision. The county attorney is afforded 30 days to either accept jurisdiction or waive the right to enforce. If the county attorney waives the right to enforce, the Commissioner then either works with the respondent to settle or file a case in district court.

The commissioner may hire or retain attorneys who are properly licensed to practice before the supreme court of the state of Montana to prosecute violations. The authority to prosecute includes the authority to: (1) institute proceedings for the arrest of persons charged with or reasonably suspected of criminal violations; (2) attend and give advice to a grand jury when cases involving criminal violations; (3) draw and file indictments and criminal complaints; (4) prosecute all actions for the recovery of debts, fines, penalties, or forfeitures accruing to the state or county from persons convicted of violating the law; and (5) do any other act necessary to successfully prosecute a violation of any provision of chapter 35.

  • Private person: anyone who believes a violation of campaign finance and practices laws or rules has occurred can file a complaint with the COPP. The complaint must describe in detail the alleged violation, attach evidentiary material, and must be signed and notarized. 

 

 Nebraska

NE flag

Laws/rules: Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann § 49-14123, (§§ 49-14,105 — 49-14,140)             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission       

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission: an independent agency that administers and enforces the state’s campaign finance laws, its laws lobbying, and its conflict of interest laws. The commission adopts and promulgates rules and regulations to carry out the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. It issues and publishes advisory opinions. The commission acts as the primary civil enforcement agency for violations of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. The Commission receives all late filing fees, civil penalties, and interest imposed pursuant to the Act.                                                                                                   
  • Private person: Any individual who believes that a violation of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act has occurred may, after exhausting the administrative remedies provided by the act, bring a civil action to compel the commission, or may bring a civil action against any person or persons to compel compliance with the act.

 Nevada

NV flag

Laws/rules: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 294A.410, (§§ 294A.380 — 294A.420)

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General               

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: administers the campaign finance reporting requirements. The secretary of state may investigate concerning the alleged violation and cause the appropriate proceedings to be instituted and prosecuted in the First Judicial District Court or refer the alleged violation to the attorney general. The attorney general shall investigate the alleged violation and institute and prosecute in the First Judicial District Court. The secretary of state may subpoena witnesses and require the production by subpoena of any books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, agreements or other documents or records that the secretary of state or a designated officer or employee of the secretary of state determines are relevant or material to the investigation. If a person fails to testify or produce any documents or records, the secretary of state or designated officer or employee may apply to the court for an order compelling compliance.
  • Attorney General: investigate the alleged violation and institute and prosecute in the First Judicial District Court. 

 

 New Hampshire

NH flag

Laws/rules: N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 664:18, §§ 664:18 — 664:23, RSA 664 - Campaign Finance Statute          

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: administers the campaign finance reporting requirements.
  • Attorney General: the attorney general has the authority to enforce campaign finance and election laws. When a complaint is brought forth, the attorney general may investigate, and, if a violation is found, demand the violator cease the action. The attorney general may prosecute the violator if sufficient cause is found in the investigation.
  • Private person: Any candidate or voter may make complaint in writing to the attorney general of any violation of political expenditures and contributions.

 New Jersey

NJ flag

Laws/rules: N.J. Stat. § 19:44A-5, N.J. Stat. § 19:44A-6, N.J. Stat. § 19:44A-21, N.J. Stat. § 19:44A-22, N.J. Stat. § 19:44A-22.3           

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission          

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Attorney General      

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission: an independent agency that handles the administering and enforces the election law and the reporting finances and expenditures requirements. The commission administers the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act‚ the Gubernatorial‚ Legislative Disclosure Statement Act‚ and the Legislative and Governmental Process Activities Disclosure Act. The commission conducts hearings and imposes penalties. The commission has the authority to initiate a civil action in any court for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the act or recovering any penalty prescribed by this act. The commission shall promulgate such regulations and forms and perform such duties as are necessary to implement the Act.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations. The commission must be forwarded to the attorney general or to the appropriate county prosecutor information concerning any criminal violations.

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 New Mexico

NM flag

Laws/rules: N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-19-34.6, N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-19-36; 1-19-25 through 1-19-36             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: election and campaign finance laws and enforcement of the Campaign Reporting Act. The secretary of state may assess civil penalties for failure to report, false reports or late filing fees. If the secretary of state reasonably believes that a person committed, or is about to commit, a violation of the Campaign Reporting Act, the secretary of state shall refer the matter to the attorney general or a district attorney for enforcement.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: civil or criminal violations. The attorney general or district attorney may institute a civil action in district court for any violation of the Campaign Reporting Act. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any provision of the Campaign Reporting Act is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both.

 

 New York

NY flag

Laws/rules: N.Y. Elec. Law §§ 3-100 — 3-114, NY CLS Elec § 16-114          

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: New York State Board of Elections            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: New York State Board of Elections

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • New York State Board of Elections: is a bipartisan agency vested with the responsibility for administration and enforcement of all laws relating to elections. The board is also responsible for regulating disclosure and limitations of a Fair Campaign Code intended to govern campaign practices. The board issues instructions and promulgate rules and regulations relating to the campaign financing practices. The board investigates complaints of possible statutory violations, issue advisory opinions, conducts private or public hearings, administers oaths or affirmations and subpoenas witnesses.
  • Private person: any candidate or by any five qualified voters or by the state or other board of elections may compel by order, any person required to file a statement of receipts, expenditures, or contributions for campaign purposes.

 North Carolina

NC flag

Laws/rules: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-19, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-22, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-23, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-25, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-27, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-28, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.22, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.23, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.27, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.28 

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: State Board of Elections 

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: State Board of Elections, District Attorney

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • State Board of Elections: The board, an independent agency, makes reasonable rules and regulations and it may conduct audits and investigations. The law requires candidate committees, political committees, and referendum committees to submit reports disclosing contributions and expenditures.  The Chair of the State Board shall have power to administer oaths, issue subpoenas, summon witnesses, and compel the production of papers, books, records, and other evidence. The Board and the district attorneys investigate any violations, and the state board and district attorneys are authorized and empowered to subpoena and compel the attendance of any person before them for the purpose of making such investigation. The state board and the district attorneys are authorized to call upon the director of the State Bureau of Investigation to furnish assistance by the State Bureau of Investigation in making the investigations of such violations. The state board shall furnish the district attorney a copy of its investigation. The district attorney shall initiate prosecution and prosecute any violations of this article.
  • Private person: If the board makes a report to a district attorney and no prosecution is initiated within 45 days after the report is made, any registered voter may petition the superior court for the appointment of a special prosecutor to prosecute the individuals or persons who have or who are believed to have violated any section of this article.
  • District Attorney: The district attorney shall initiate prosecution and prosecute any violations of this Article.

 North Dakota

ND flag

Laws/rules: N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-08.1-06, N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-08.1-06.1, N.D. Cent. Code, § 16.1-09-06, N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-09-07

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: handles and administers the campaign finance disclosure reporting process. The secretary of state shall provide instructions and conduct training for the purpose of promoting uniform application of campaign finance and disclosure requirements. It may arrange an audit of reports. If a statement or report required to be filed is not filed within the prescribed time, the filing officer to whom the report was to be filed is authorized to charge and collect a late fee.
  • Attorney General: the attorney general or state’s attorney shall investigate any alleged violation of this chapter. The investigation and its proceedings are confidential until a determination has been reached by the investigating officer that enough incriminating evidence exists to bring an action and such action is commenced in the appropriate district court. Any person who willfully violates any provision of this chapter is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

 Ohio

OH flag

Laws/rules: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3517.14, ORC Ann. 3517.152, 3517.153, 3517.154, 3517.155, 3517.157  

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Election Commission     

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Election Commission, Local prosecutor        

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles the campaign finance reporting requirements. Statewide candidates’ campaign finance reports are filed with the secretary of state, together with the reports for state political action committees, state political parties and legislative caucus campaign committees.
  • Election Commission: The commission may recommend legislation and render advisory opinions. The full-time attorney for the Ohio elections commission shall review each complaint filed with the commission and the attorney shall make the determination and the recommendation. The commission will hold a hearing and decide to dismiss complaint, impose a penalty, or refer the matter to the appropriate prosecutor. The commission or a member of the commission may administer oaths, and the commission may issue subpoenas to any person in the state compelling the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant papers, books, accounts, and reports. The Commission may impose fines.
  • Local prosecutor: criminal violations 

 

 Oklahoma

OK flag

Laws/rules: Okl. Const. Art. XXIX, § 4, Okla. Stat. tit. 74, § 4256  

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Oklahoma Ethics Commission   

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Oklahoma Ethics Commission

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: administers the rules for the reporting process. Contributions and expenditures reports must be filed with the secretary of state.          
  • Oklahoma Ethics Commission: The Ethics Commission also has enforcement authority over Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure for counties, certain municipalities, independent school districts and technology center districts. For purposes of enforcing the County Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure Act, the Municipal Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure Act, and the Technology Center District and Independent School District Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure Act, the Ethics Commission shall establish a special division to be known as the “Political Subdivisions Enforcement Division.” The ethics commission shall investigate and, when it deems appropriate, prosecute in the District Court of the county where the violation occurred. The commission may settle investigations and accept payment of fines without court order. For purposes of its investigations, the Ethics Commission shall have subpoena power. The commission may assess late filing fees. 

 

 Oregon

OR flag

Laws/rules: Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 260.200, Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 260.205, ORS § 260.218, ORS § 260.225, Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 260.232, ORS § 260.234, Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 260.993   

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General               

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles the campaign finance reporting requirements and process. The secretary of state, or the attorney general may issue subpoenas to compel the production of records, documents, books, papers, memoranda, or other information necessary to determine compliance. If a person fails to comply with any subpoena, a judge of the circuit court of any county, on application of the secretary of state or attorney general, shall compel obedience by proceedings for contempt. The Secretary of State, an elector, or filing officer may petition the circuit court to compel a candidate, treasurer or person who fails to file a statement required to be filed with the filing officer. The secretary of state may hold a hearing and impose a civil penalty for failure to file statement or to include required information.
  • Attorney General: criminal violations

 

 Pennsylvania

PA flag

Laws/rules: 25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3246, 25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3252, 25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3256, 25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3259, 25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 3260   

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, Attorney General, District Attorney

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: handles all reporting and expenditure reporting requirements under the law. The Secretary of State may collect any fines relating to the filing of late reports.
  • Attorney General/district attorney: The attorney general may pursue civil or criminal violations. The Attorney General shall have prosecutorial jurisdiction over all violations committed under this act. The district attorney of any county in which a violation occurred has concurrent powers and responsibilities with the attorney general over such violations.
  • Private person: any five electors of the commonwealth or of the political division may present a petition to the court of common pleas of the county in which is situated the office where such original report has been filed or with the Commonwealth Court for an audit of such report.

 

 Rhode Island

RI flag

Laws/rules: R.I. Gen. Laws Section 17-25-5, R.I. Gen. Laws Section 17-25-11, R.I. Gen. Laws Section 17-25-13

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Rhode Island Board of Elections            

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Rhode Island Board of Elections  

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Board of Elections: authorized to perform any duties that are necessary to implement campaign contributions and expenditures reporting processes. It may adopt rules and regulations to carry out the Rhode Island Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act. The board can conduct compliance reviews and audit, confidential investigations and/or closed hearings and render written advisory opinions. The board has the authority to assess late filing fees.

 

 South Carolina

SC flag

Laws/rules: S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-320, S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-1510, S.C. Code Ann. § 8-13-1520

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: South Carolina State Ethics Commission     

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: South Carolina State Ethics Commission     

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • State Ethics Commission: is responsible for the enforcement of the Ethics Reform Act of 1991. The commission ensures compliance with the state’s laws on financial disclosure, campaign disclosure, and ethical rules of conduct. It regulates lobbyists and lobbying organizations and issuing advisory opinions interpreting the statute. The commission conducts criminal and administrative investigations and prosecutes both violators either administratively or criminally. The commission may administer oaths and affirmation for the testimony of witnesses and issue subpoenas. The commission requests the Attorney General, in the name of the commission, to initiate, prosecute, defend, or appear in a civil or criminal action for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the act.
  • Private person: any person may petition the court of common pleas alleging the violations complained of and praying for appropriate relief by way of mandamus or injunction, or both.
  • Attorney General: At the request of the Commission, the Attorney General may initiate, prosecute, defend, or appear in a civil or criminal action for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the Act.

 South Dakota

SD flag

Laws/rules: S.D. Codified Laws § 12-27-35, S.D. Codified Laws § 12-27-36, S.D. Codified Laws § 12-27-37, S.D. Codified Laws § 12-27-40, S.D. Codified Laws § 12-27-43             

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General/State Attorney

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: handles the filing requirements of campaign finance disclosure statements and statements of financial interest and administers the campaign finance reporting system.
  • Attorney General: The attorney general may bring an action for a civil penalty against any person, political committee, political party, or organization. The attorney general shall keep each record inspected or examined confidential except when the records are used to enforce provisions of this chapter associated with a criminal or civil action. The attorney general shall investigate and prosecute any violation relating to a legislative office, statewide office, or political committee and prosecute any violation thereof. In lieu of bringing a criminal action, the attorney general may elect to file a civil action. In a civil action, the court may impose a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each violation. A civil action brought by the attorney general shall be commenced in Hughes County or in the county where the person resides. The attorney general may, for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this chapter, inspect or examine any political committee records.
  • State Attorney: The state’s attorney shall investigate any violation of the provisions of this chapter relating to elections for county and school district office or county, municipal, or school district ballot questions, and prosecute any violation thereof. In lieu of bringing a criminal action, the state’s attorney may elect to file a civil action for any violation of this chapter. In a civil action, in addition to other relief, the court may impose a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 for each violation.

 Tennessee

TN flag

Laws/rules: Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-108, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-109, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-111, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-120, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-206, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-207, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-209, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-210, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-211, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-212, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-213, Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-10-308            

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Tennessee Registry of Election Finance             

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, County election commission, Attorney General, District Attorney

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Tennessee Registry of Election Finance: an independent agency that is responsible for the enforcement of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act, Campaign Contribution Limits Act, and Gubernatorial Inauguration Finance Disclosure Act. The registry may conduct audits and investigate any alleged violation upon sworn complaint or upon its own motion. 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 holds hearings, subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and compel production of books, correspondence, papers, and other records. The registry may issue an order and assess late filing fees and other civil penalties. The registry will refer criminal matters to the appropriate district attorney general for criminal prosecution.
  • County election commission: has the authority to forward information regarding violation of disclosure laws by candidates for local public office to the district attorney general for investigation.
  • Private person: a registered voter who believes a violation of the state campaign finance law has taken place, may file a sworn complaint.
  • Attorney General: criminal violations. Represent the registry of election finance in any action or lawsuit in any court of this state.
  • District Attorney: Investigate any sworn complaint and seek injunctions from the chancery courts to enforce the laws. 

 

 Texas

TX flag

Laws/rules: Tex. Elec. Code §§ 253.131 - 253.134; Tex. Elec. Code § 253.176, Tex. Elec. Code § 273.001, Tex. Elec. Code § 273.021, Tex. Elec. Code § 273.022; Tex. Gov't Code §§ 571.171 - 571.177, Tex. Gov’t Code § 571.121, Tex. Gov’t Code § 571.133        

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Texas Ethics Commission              

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Texas Ethics Commission, Attorney General, County/district attorney           

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Texas Ethics Commission: administers the filing requirements for campaign finance reports regulating political funds and campaigns under Title 15 of the Texas Election Code. The commission has the authority to hold hearings and issue subpoenas. A petition to appeal the final decision of the commission may be filed in Travis County district court or in the county in which the respondent resides.
  • Attorney General/local prosecutor: criminal violations. A district or county attorney having jurisdiction, or the attorney general may investigate on the officer’s own initiative to determine if criminal conduct occurred in connection with an election. On referral of a complaint from the secretary of state, the attorney general may investigate the allegations.
  • County or district attorney: may begin a criminal investigation. The county or district attorney will deliver notice of the investigation to the secretary of state. The secretary of state may disclose information relating to a criminal investigation received under this subsection only if the county or district attorney has disclosed the information or would be required by law to disclose the information. 

 

 Utah

UT flag

Laws/rules: Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-101.3, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-104,Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-105, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-101.7, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-206, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-305, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-603, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-11-703, Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-11-1001 — 20A-11-1005, Utah Code Ann. § 20A-1-705, §§ 20A-1-801 — 20A-1-808       

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Office of the Lieutenant Governor          

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General           

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Office of the Lieutenant Governor: The director of elections, within the lieutenant governor’s office, may make rules for campaign and financial reporting requirements. The lieutenant governor’s office may commence informal adjudicative proceeding, the lieutenant governor may issue a signed order, may enforce and administer penalties.
  • Attorney General: criminal violations. The lieutenant governor shall report all violations to the Attorney General.
  • Private person: Any candidate or voter may file a written complaint with the chief election officer alleging that a filed financial statement does not conform to law or to the truth.

 

 Vermont

VT flag

Laws/rules: Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, §§ 2903 - 2907, Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2983, Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, §§ 2961-2973, Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 3, § 1223      

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General             

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: administers the campaign finance reporting requirements and processes. All candidates for statewide, legislative, county, and local office who spend or raise $500 or more in an election cycle must register and file campaign finance reports with the secretary of state.
  • Attorney General: The attorney general and the state’s attorneys have investigative authority over civil matters, if they have reason to believe any person has violated any provision of the campaign finance law. The attorney general may forward reports and complaint to the State Ethics Commission.
  • State Ethics Commission: If the complaint alleges a violation of campaign finance law, the Executive Director shall refer the complaint to the attorney general or to the state's attorney. The attorney general may forward reports and complaint to the State Ethics Commission.

 Virginia

VA flag

Laws/rules: Va. Code Ann. §§ 24.2-946 - 24.2-946.4, Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-947.5, Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-949.5, Va. Code Ann. §§ 24.2-953 thru -953.5              

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: State Board of Elections, local general registrar, attorney for the Commonwealth

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: State Board of Elections, local general registrar, attorney for the Commonwealth         

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Virginia State Board of Elections: The Virginia Department of Elections Campaign Finance administers the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act of 2006. The board will review, developed, and approve standards for the preparation, production, and transmittal of campaign finance reports. The board will report any violations to the appropriate attorney for the Commonwealth. The board may assess and collect civil penalties and if unable to collect the penalty, will report the violation to the appropriate attorney for enforcement. There are three categories of violations: (i) the failure to file reports; (ii) the late filing of reports; and (iii) incomplete reports.
  • Local general registrar: to report any violation relating to the filing of campaign finance reports to the attorney for the commonwealth for the county or city in which the general registrar has jurisdiction.
  • Attorney for the Commonwealth: The Board will report any violations to the appropriate attorney for the Commonwealth. 

 

 Washington

WA flag

Laws/rules: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 42.17A.750 — 42.17A.785, WAC 390-37-001 thru -181

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Washington State Public Disclosure Commission

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Attorney General 

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Washington State Public Disclosure Commission: the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) Compliance Division conducts investigations of complaints concerning alleged violations of Washington’s campaign finance and disclosure laws (RCW 42.17A) and rules (WAC 390). These laws and rules give the PDC jurisdiction to enforce requirements governing the disclosure of campaign finance activities, political advertising, lobbying, personal financial affairs statements, and alleged use of public facilities to support or oppose a candidate or ballot proposition. The PDC's enforcement of compliance includes categorization of enforcement matters, complaint processes, alternative resolutions, investigations, and adjudicative proceedings (enforcement hearings) in compliance cases.
  • Private person: A person who has reason to believe that a provision of this chapter is being or has been violated may bring a citizen’s action in the name of the state only if the person first has filed a complaint with the commission and it has not taken action and given notice to the attorney general.
  • Attorney General: civil and criminal violations. The attorney general may bring civil actions for any appropriate civil remedy. The attorney general may investigate or cause to be investigated the activities of any person who there is reason to believe is or has been acting in violation. The commission, or the executive director with concurrence of the commission chair or vice chair, may refer a matter to the Attorney General’s Office. 

 

 West Virginia

WV flag

Laws/rules: W. Va. Code § 3-8-8, W. Va. Code § 3-12-14, W. Va. Code §§ 3-12-1 — 3-12-17

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, the Election Commission    

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Secretary of State, the Election Commission, Attorney General

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:     

  • Secretary of State: administers and enforces the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Public Campaign Financing Program. It may prescribe forms for reports, statements, notices and other documents and monitor reports and conduct audits. The State Election Commission and the secretary of state may subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance and testimony, administer oaths and affirmations, take evidence, and require, by subpoena, the production of any books, papers, records, or other items. The State Election Commission may order and assess fines and penalties.
  • Attorney General: civil and criminal violations. The attorney general shall, when requested, provide legal and investigative assistance to the State Election Commission.

 Wisconsin

WI flag

Laws/rules: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 11.0102, Wis. Stat. Ann. § 11.1304, Wis. Stat. Ann. § 11.1400, Wis. Stat. Ann. § 11.1401; §§ 11.0100 — 11.1401; Wis. Stat. § 19.49     

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Wisconsin Ethics Commission     

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Wisconsin Ethics Commission, Attorney General, District Attorney        

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Wisconsin Ethics Commission: administers and enforces Wisconsin’s campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws. The Commission prescribes the forms for making the reports, statements, and notices. It receives and maintains all reports and statements. The commission shall investigate violations of laws administered by the commission and may prosecute alleged civil violations of those laws. A civil action may be brought by the commission or, upon the commission’s determination of probable cause, by the district attorney for the county where the defendant resides or, if the defendant is a nonresident, by the district attorney for the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred. After the commission has determined probable cause, criminal prosecutions will be conducted by the district attorney. The commission may compromise and settle any civil action or potential action brought or authorized to be brought by it which, in the opinion of the commission, constitutes a minor violation, a violation caused by excusable neglect, or which for other good cause shown, should not in the public interest be prosecuted. 
  • Private person: Any elector may file a verified petition with the commission requesting that civil action under this chapter be brought against any person or committee.
  • District Attorney: civil and criminal violations. After the commission has determined probable cause, all prosecutions will be conducted by the district attorney for the county where the defendant resides or, if the defendant is a nonresident, by the district attorney for the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred.
  • Attorney General: may commence a civil or criminal prosecution.

 Wyoming

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Laws/rules: Wyo. Stat. §§ 22-25-101 — 22-25-115; Wyo. Stat. § 22-26-121

Agency(ies) handling campaign finance issues: Secretary of State, Attorney General

Agency(ies) with enforcement power: Attorney General/district attorney             

Reporting and Enforcement Powers:

  • Secretary of State: administers Wyoming's campaign finance reporting and disclosure requirements. The secretary of state promulgates the rules and prescribes the forms for reporting contributions and expenditures for primary, general and special election campaigns, together with instructions for completing the form and a warning that violators are subject to criminal charges and civil penalties if the forms are not completed and filed pursuant to law. If the secretary of state or the county clerk finds that a complaint has merit and suspects a violation, they will refer the complaint to the Wyoming attorney general for investigation and prosecution.
  • Private person: Any person suspecting a violation of the Wyoming Election Code may file a written complaint with the secretary of state for matters pertaining to statewide and legislative candidates. Any person may file a written complaint with the county clerk regarding any violation of the Election Code by any county or municipal candidate, committee or organization.
  • Attorney General/district attorney: civil and criminal violations. If the secretary of state or county clerk finds that the complaint has merit and suspects a violation of the election code, they shall refer the complaint to the Wyoming attorney general for investigation and prosecution. The attorney general may prosecute the complaint in the district court. The secretary of state will notify the attorney general of all delinquent penalties.
 

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