Campaign Finance: Know Your Limits

Campaign finance reporting is a huge pain.  I almost always assign someone to handle this exclusively, and then ask a couple of knowledgeable people to oversee and double check their work.

A reader asked me the following question:

‘What if an individual wants to contribute $10,000 or more to the campaign?’

Since this is comes up in nearly every Congressional campaign, I thought I’d share my answer with everyone:

An individual is allowed to contribute $2,500 per election – that means they can write you a check for $2,500 today, for the primary (whether you have an opponent or not) and write you another, separate check later for the general.  
If said donor is married, his wife can also write a check for $2,500, twice.  It can come from the same checking account, but make a notation of some kind on the actual check and record it correctly in your campaign finance report.  For example, if the address box says “Mike and Linda Smith” I would circle “Mike” or “Linda” depending on which one is officially the donor.  You could also write “donation from Linda Smith” in the memo of the check, and of course, the proper donor is going to be the signer of the check.

So, if the donor in question is married, they can give $10k by giving $2,500 for each election and having his/her spouse give $2,500 per election as well.

There’s a good chart for reference here:
http://www.fec.gov/ans/answers_general.shtml

This is all for national level campaigns (US House and up) – some states also impose extra restrictions, so be sure to check out your state’s campaign finance pages as well.  Most of them have ‘handbooks’ you can print out and study to make sure you’re doing everything right.  Your county building is the very first place you should check, because almost all counties have additional filing requirements, on top of the state and federal requirements.  Oftentimes you can just make copies of the same forms for all three government entities.

Leave a Comment