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KREF Frequently Asked Questions

DISCLAIMER NOTICE

These “Frequently Asked Questions” are intended merely as a general reference tool and in no way supersede applicable statutory provisions, administrative regulations or case law.  The Registry recommends a complete reading of the campaign finance laws contained in KRS Chapter 121 and the administrative regulations contained in Title 32 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations.  If you have any specific questions about the subjects covered by these questions or this web site, you should contact the Registry directly.


 

Candidate | Permanent Committee | Political Issues Committee |
Caucus Campaign Committee | Executive CommitteeElectronic Filing | Political Advertising | Complaint Procedures

 

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Candidate Frequently Asked Questions

Contributions

What is an unitemized contribution?

What is the difference between “cash receipts” and “anonymous receipts"?

What is the difference between an in-kind contribution and an independent expenditure?

Can I accept a contribution from a non-profit corporation?

Can I accept contributions from an LLC?

Is a check from a sole proprietorship a contribution from a contributing organization?

I know the individual contribution limit is $1,000.  Can a check be written to the campaign for more than $1,000 if two or more people are contributing?

What are the limits on contributions that PACs may make to campaigns?

What is the limit on contributions from affiliated PACs to candidates?

What is the difference between an in-kind contribution given by a PAC to a candidate and an independent expenditure?

How much money can my spouse contribute to my campaign?

Can a member of the General Assembly receive any contributions while they are in session?

Is a person subject to registration and reporting requirements if he or she conducts a survey on public issues and how public officials are performing in response to those public issues?

May a Kentucky state or local candidate accept a contribution from a federally registered PAC physically located in Kentucky without subjecting the PAC to registration and reporting requirements under KRS Chapter 121?

May a judicial candidate directly solicit contributions for his or her election campaign?

May corporations make contributions to candidates as a result of the United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United?

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Expenses

I would like to purchase campaign materials from the internet but the company will only accept a credit card for payment.  Is that allowed?

May a sitting state legislator retain campaign funds raised to run for his or her current legislative district seat to run for the same office, even though redistricting legislation results in a renumbering of the legislative district (e.g. District 10 is changed to District 9) where the legislator currently serves?

May an elected official use campaign funds to pay for legal representation in a matter pending before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission?

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Reporting

What dates should I use on my election finance statement?

If I choose the spending option of more than $3,000 or $3,000 or less and I end up being unopposed, do I still have to file election finance statements?

If I choose one of the higher spending options and I do not raise or spend more than $1,000, will I be required to file election finance statements?

Can I increase my spending option?

If my opponent drops out of the election, can I change my intent after the deadline?

If a write-in candidate has filed to run against me in the general election, can I change my intent after the deadline?

If I am unopposed in the primary, do I still have to file election finance statements?

If my name doesn’t appear on the primary ballot, do I have to file election finance statements?

Do I need to keep campaign records if I have requested the $1,000 or less spending option since I will be exempt from reporting?

I’m spending my own money for the campaign so do I have to report it?

Do I have to file copies of amended election finance statements with the county clerk, or just the original statement?

I paid my filing fee for office with my own personal funds. How do I handle that on the election finance statement?

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Political Advertising

What is a Political Advertisement? 

What is the Correct Political Advertising Disclaimer?

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Disclaimer Information

Does the campaign treasurer’s name have to be included in the disclaimer?

Is a newspaper ad that is 3 ½ x 5 inches or smaller required to have a disclaimer?

When is a disclaimer required by a candidate?

When is a disclaimer required by someone other than a candidate?

When is a disclaimer required for television and radio broadcasts?

Are there any items exempt from the disclaimer requirements?

What is a Political Advertisement? 

What is the Correct Political Advertising Disclaimer?

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Treasurer and Campaign Account Information

Is there a form I have to fill out if I want to change my campaign treasurer or my campaign depository?

Should a candidate obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) when establishing his or her candidate campaign fund?

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Fundraising Events

The campaign is going to have a fundraising event and food will be sold to raise money for the campaign.  We are also going to accept additional contributions at that time.  How should these activities be reported?

May candidates and committees use raffles as a means to raise funds or solicit campaign contributions?

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Internet / Website

I have a website for my campaign. Can I have links to my friend’s professional photography site who took my campaign pictures?

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Com

Committees Frequently Asked Questions

Permanent Committee (PAC)

What is a PAC/Permanent Committee?

What are the contribution limits for PACs?

Can an existing PAC change its name? How is this accomplished?

What does “affiliated” mean?  What are the contribution limits between affiliated PACs and what are the contribution limits from affiliated PACs to candidates, executive committees, and other non affiliated PACs?

Can PACs accept contributions from partnerships?

What are the limits on contributions that PACs may make to campaigns?

What is the limit on contributions from affiliated PACs to candidates?

What is the difference between an in-kind contribution given by a PAC to a candidate and an independent expenditure?

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Political Issues Committee

What are the limits on contributions to Political Issues Committees?

Do registration and reporting requirements apply to persons spending money or campaigning in an attempt to get an issue on the ballot?

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Caucus Campaign Committee

What are caucus campaign committees?

If a caucus campaign committee makes or receives no contributions in a given reporting period, is it still required to file a report?

What are the financial reporting requirements for caucus campaign committees?

Is a caucus campaign committee affiliated with state and county executive committees?

What is the maximum allowable contribution to a caucus campaign committee?

Can a caucus campaign committee make contributions to organizations such as the young woman’s political organization or the young collegiate political organization?

Can partnerships contribute money to a caucus campaign committee?

Can LLC’s and LLP’s contribute to caucus campaign committees?

Can a registered lobbyist make contributions to a caucus campaign committee?

Can a husband and wife contribute $5,000 on one check from a joint account?

Can caucus campaign committees accept corporate contributions?

Can caucus campaign committees contribute money to more than one candidate?

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Executive Committee

If an executive committee makes or receives no contributions in a given reporting period, is it still required to file a report?

What is the maximum allowable contribution to an executive committee?

Can an executive committee make contributions to organizations such as the young woman’s political organization or the young collegiate political organization?

If I give $2,500 to a local executive committee, does the total amount stay with that committee?

Our local executive committee has changed officer(s).  Do we only have to notify the state executive committee of the change?

What is an ITC check and how can these funds be used?

What can I do with an ITC check?  Must the executive committee have a separate account for this?

Can partnerships contribute money to an executive committee?

Can LLC’s and LLP’s contribute to executive committees?

Can a husband and wife contribute $5,000 on one check from a joint account?

Can executive committees accept corporate contributions?

What is the maximum contribution an executive committee can make to a candidate or a slate of candidates?

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Efile

Electronic Filing Frequently Asked Questions
Political Advertising Frequently Asked Questions
Complaint Procedures
Candidate Frequently Asked Questions

Contributions

What is an unitemized contribution?

Campaign finance law does not require the treasurer to report detailed and exact accounts of contributions of $100 or less. However, internal records must be maintained to identify the sources of contributions as they occur in order to aggregate each individual or group contribution with subsequent contributions by that particular individual or group. If a receipt is designated as "unitemized" it will not print out on the detail report. However, it will be added to the "unitemized" figure on the summary page.

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What is the difference between “cash receipts” and “anonymous receipts”?

For cash receipts, the campaign has a record of the contribution by the name of the contributor, the date and amount of the cash contribution.  The maximum cash contribution that an individual may give to a candidate is $50.00 per election.

Anonymous receipts are any receipts that the campaign cannot attribute to a specific contributor.  For example, if a bucket was set out at a campaign event and individuals put money in the bucket, these receipts would be considered anonymous receipts as there would be no record of the contributor’s name, date and amount of the contribution.  The maximum anonymous contribution is $50.00 per individual, per election.  A second limitation also applies to anonymous receipts: the campaign may only keep $1,000 in anonymous contributions and anything over $1,000 must be forwarded to the State Treasury.

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What is the difference between an in-kind contribution and an independent expenditure?

An in-kind contribution is goods, advertising or services furnished to a candidate, slate of candidates or committee without charge or at a rate which is less than the rate normally charged for the goods or services.  The campaign is responsible for reporting the in-kind contribution on the election finance statement.

An independent expenditure is the expenditure of money or other thing of value to promote a candidate, slate of candidates or committee without the campaign or any authorized person acting on behalf of the campaign having any prior knowledge of the activity.  There is no limit on independent expenditures; however, an “Independent Expenditure Report” must be completed and forwarded to the Registry when the aggregate amount of the independent expenditure exceeds $500.  The candidates, slate of candidates or committees are not responsible for reporting the independent expenditure on the election finance statement.

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Can I accept a contribution from a non-profit corporation?

No. The campaign finance laws, as well as the Kentucky Constitution, make no distinction as to specific types of corporate contributions that are prohibited. Therefore, the corporate prohibition of contributions extends to non-profit corporations, professional service corporations (PSCs) or any other type of corporate classification or designation.

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Can I accept contributions from an LLC?

Yes.  Limited liability companies are allowed to make contributions to candidates in the amount of $1,000 per election.  For more information, see page 40 of the Candidate Guide to Campaign Finance (Revised 08/2011).

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Is a check from a sole proprietorship a contribution from a contributing organization?

No.  A contribution on a “sole proprietorship” business check should be reported as a contribution from the individual who is the owner of the business.

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I know the individual contribution limit is $1,000.  Can a check be written to the campaign for more than $1,000 if two or more people are contributing?

Yes.  When accepting a check for more than the individual contribution limit, you must obtain a written verification from the contributors showing how much each person is contributing individually.  A husband and wife may both choose to sign the contribution check before giving it to the campaign.

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What are the limits on contributions that PACs may make to campaigns?

PACs may contribute up to $1,000 to any candidate or slate of candidates per election.  This means the PAC may contribute $1,000 in a primary and, if the candidate or slate wins the primary, the PAC may contribute $1,000 in the general election. However,  PACs may only contribute $200 per election to school board candidates.

An additional limit is set on PAC receipts.  A campaign may only accept 50 percent of its total contributions or $10,000, whichever is the greater amount per election from PACs.  Any amount over 50 percent must be refunded to the PAC.

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What is the limit on contributions from affiliated PACs to candidates?

When making a contribution to candidates, affiliated organizations are considered to be one (1) contributor and they are held jointly to the $1,000 contribution limit.  (Example: if a state PAC made a $1,000 contribution to a candidate, the affiliated Federal PAC could not make a contribution to that candidate in that election.)

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What is the difference between an in-kind contribution given by a PAC to a candidate and an independent expenditure?

An in-kind contribution is goods, advertising or services furnished by a PAC without charge or at a rate which is less than the rate normally charged for the goods or services.  The campaign is responsible for reporting in-kind contributions on its election finance statement.

An independent expenditure is the expenditure of money or other thing of value to promote a candidate, slate of candidates or committee without the campaign or any authorized person acting on behalf of the campaign having any prior knowledge of the activity.  There is no limit on independent expenditures; however, an “Independent Expenditure Report” must be completed and forwarded to the Registry when the aggregate amount of the independent expenditure exceeds $500.  The candidates, slate of candidates or committee are not responsible for reporting the independent expenditure on the election finance statement.

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How much money can my spouse contribute to my campaign? 

A candidate’s spouse may contribute the same contribution amount as any other contributor, which is $1,000 per person per election.

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Can a member of the General Assembly receive any contributions while they are in session?

This question falls under the jurisdiction of the Legislative Ethics Commission. You should contact them directly.

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Is a person subject to registration and reporting requirements if he or she conducts a survey on public issues and how public officials are performing in response to those public issues?

No, but the cost may be reportable by a candidate.  The Registry’s jurisdiction under KRS Chapter 121 extends to candidates, committees, and persons expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified candidates in Kentucky state and local races, and to committees advocating for or against issues appearing on a ballot.  The Registry has no authority to regulate public opinion polls, so long as those polls do not expressly gauge support for candidates (such as “who would you vote for . . .” or “who would you support . . .” ).  However, the poll results may be reportable as an in-kind contribution to a candidate, if later used by a candidate in his or her campaign, and would be subject to contribution limits in this circumstance.

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May a Kentucky state or local candidate accept a contribution from a federally registered PAC physically located in Kentucky without subjecting the PAC to registration and reporting requirements under KRS Chapter 121?

Yes.  Federal law supersedes state law with respect to the disclosure of receipts and expenditures by federal political committees. 11 C.F.R. § 108.7.  See also Bunning v. Commonwealth, 42 F.3d 1008, 1012 (6th Cir. 1994).   Under KRS 121.170(5), a federally registered PAC must only provide the Registry with a copy of its FEC Form 1 and only those pages of the FEC report specifically disclosing contributions to Kentucky state and local candidates, when the federally registered PAC makes a contribution to a Kentucky candidate or slate of candidates.  See specifically KREF Advisory Opinion 2010-006.

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May a judicial candidate directly solicit contributions for his or her election campaign?

Yes.  KRS Chapter 121 does not prohibit or otherwise address the solicitation of a contribution from a judge or judicial candidate.  In addition, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2010 that the solicitation clause of Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 4.300, Canon 5(B)(2) violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  See Carey v. Wolnitzek, 614 F.3d 189 (6th Cir. 2010).

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May corporations make contributions to candidates as a result of the United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United?

No.   The United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United did not affect the prohibition on corporate contributions to candidates found in Section 150 of the Kentucky Constitution.  See also KRS 121.025 and KRS 121.150(20).  However, corporations may now make unlimited independent expenditures - which are by definition expenditures not coordinated with a candidate or candidate campaign committee.  See KREF Advisory Opinions 2010-001, 2010-002, and 2011-002.

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Expenses

I would like to purchase campaign materials from the internet but the company will only accept a credit card for payment.  Is that allowed?

This is allowed.  It is recommended that you use a credit card which is used solely for the campaign.  When you report the disbursement on your election finance statement, list the name of the company where the credit card purchase was made instead of the name of the credit card company itself.

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May a sitting state legislator retain campaign funds raised to run for his or her current legislative district seat to run for the same office, even though redistricting legislation results in a renumbering of the legislative district (e.g. District 10 is changed to District 9) where the legislator currently serves?

Yes, per KRS 121.180(10), candidates may retain campaign funds to seek election to the same office.  Where redistricting legislation results in the renumbering of legislative districts, the Registry has consistently interpreted KRS 121.180(10) to allow a candidate affected by state legislative redistricting to retain campaign funds to run for the same office in his or her newly designated district.  See KREF Advisory Opinion 2002-001.

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May an elected official use campaign funds to pay for legal representation in a matter pending before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission?

No, KRS 121.175(1) provides that “(n)o candidate shall permit funds in a campaign account to be expended for any purpose other than for allowable campaign expenditures.”  Expenditures from a campaign fund must be directly and primarily related to a candidate’s candidacy.  See 32 KAR 2:200.  In the absence of facts directly related to the elected official’s candidacy, personal defense of a claim regarding his or her alleged ethics violation does not appear to be directly and primarily related to the candidate’s candidacy and therefore is not a permitted expenditure from a campaign account.

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Reporting

What dates should I use on my election finance statement?

As a rule, you should use the day you first spend or receive funds in hopes of nomination or election to office as the starting date of your first financial report. The ending date we recommend is the "report due date." You have five (5) days of grace period after the report due date. This should allow you ample time to get your financial report submitted to our agency. The next report you file should start with the day after the last "report due date." For example, if your first report is from 01/01/2002 to 04/26/2002, your next report would be from 04/27/2002 to 05/13/2002. Your reporting dates should NOT overlap or leave gaps.

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If I choose the spending option of more than $3,000 or $3,000 or less and I end up being unopposed, do I still have to file election finance statements?

Yes.  A candidate’s election finance reporting is determined by the amount of funds the campaign selects to spend. 

If you do not choose a reporting exemption, this indicates your intention to raise and spend more than $3,000. You will be required to file a 32-day pre-election finance statement, a 15-day pre-election finance statement and a 30-day post election finance statement unless you rescind the request for spending option within fifteen (15) days following the filing deadline. 

If you request a reporting exemption and choose the spending option to “raise and spend $3,000 or less,” you will be exempt from filing pre-election election finance statements and only be required to file a 30-day post election finance statement unless you rescind the request for spending option within fifteen (15) days following the filing deadline.

If you request a reporting exemption and choose the spending option to “raise and spend $1,000 or less,” you will be exempt from filing election finance statements.

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If I choose one of the higher spending options and I do not raise or spend more than $1,000, will I be required to file election finance statements?

Since all reporting requirements are based on the amount you selected to raise or spend when you first filed for office, you will need to file the required statements regardless of the amount spent. 

Candidates opting to spend more than $3,000 are required to file election finance statements thirty-two (32) and fifteen (15) days before the election and thirty (30) days after the election. 

Candidates opting to spend $3,000 or less are only required to file a election finance statement thirty (30) days after the election.

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Can I increase my spending option?

Any candidate may change his or her spending option during the fifteen (15) days following the filing deadline.  A successful primary candidate can change his or her spending option during the twenty-five (25) days following the preceding primary election. 

A candidate who exceeds his or her chosen spending option may be fined five hundred dollars ($500) plus the amount by which the spending limit is exceeded.

EXCEPT…A candidate seeking county, city and school board offices may increase his or her reporting exemption at any time as long as the campaign files the required election finance statements.  A penalty will be assessed for failure to file the election finance statements on time.

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If my opponent drops out of the election, can I change my intent after the deadline?

No. The spending option you chose when you filed for office establishes the number of election finance statements you will need to file for the election.  There is a limited exception if the opponent is replaced due to a withdrawal because of death, disability or disqualification.

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If a write-in candidate has filed to run against me in the general election, can I change my intent after the deadline?

Yes.  The campaign finance laws allow candidates who find they have opposition from a write-in candidate to amend their spending options.

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If I am unopposed in the primary, do I still have to file election finance statements?

Yes. If you were required to submit your filing papers by the January filing deadline, you are considered by the Registry to be part of the primary election process. The number of reports due is based on the Exemption Request the campaign filed for that election. An unopposed candidate (one whose name does not appear on the primary ballot) may accept contributions and make expenditures just like any other candidate.

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If my name doesn’t appear on the primary ballot, do I have to file election finance statements?

Yes, depending on the spending option selected.  When a candidate is unopposed in the primary election, his or her name does not appear on the ballot.  Campaign finance statutes set forth reporting requirements based on your spending option without regard to the candidate having or not having opposition.  An unopposed candidate may accept contributions for the election the same as a candidate with opposition.

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Do I need to keep campaign records if I have requested the $1,000 or less spending option since I will be exempt from reporting?

Yes.  The campaign finance statute requires candidates to maintain the campaign records for a period of six (6) years from the date of the last report filed with the Registry.  Regardless of the spending option you chose for your campaign, you can still be audited by the Registry.  

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I’m spending my own money for the campaign so do I have to report it?

All funds given to the campaign are to be reported as contributions, including the candidate’s own money.  The candidate may loan funds to the campaign in hopes of receiving contributions to repay all or a portion of the funds; or, the candidate may wish to donate the funds to the campaign as a candidate contribution. 

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Do I have to file copies of amended election finance statements with the county clerk, or just the original statement?

Yes.  All election finance statements are public record and a copy of all information pertaining to the statement should be placed on file in the local county clerk’s office.

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I paid my filing fee for office with my own personal funds. How do I handle that on the election finance statement?

The filing fee may be reimbursed to the candidate from the campaign bank account. The reimbursement should be shown as a disbursement on Schedule 2 of the election finance statements. Some individuals, however, believe they were not a candidate for office until after the fee was paid. Therefore, they do not include the fee as an expense of the campaign. Either of these options is acceptable.

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Political Advertising

What is a Political Advertisement?

Political Advertising is any advertisement advocating the election or defeat of any candidate, political party, or public issue. 

For example, Political Advertising would NOT include the announcement of a fish fry sponsored by a political organization unless the advertisement stated that the fish fry endorses a candidate.

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What is the Correct Political Advertising Disclaimer?

Per KRS 121.190(1): All advertising advocating the election or defeat of any candidate shall be identified by the words "paid for by" followed by the name and address of the individual or committee which paid for the advertising; except that if paid for by a candidate, or campaign committee, it shall be identified only by the words "paid for by" followed by the name of the candidate or campaign committee. 

For television and radio broadcasts, compliance with Federal Communication Commission regulations regarding sponsored programs and broadcasts by candidates for public office shall be considered compliance with this section.  

NEVER USE:  “Paid for by Candidate.” This is an inappropriate disclaimer.

Examples of Correct Political Advertising Disclaimers: 

Candidate Joe Smith or someone from the Joe Smith Campaign Committee purchases an advertisement: 

Paid for by Joe Smith
or
Paid for by Committee to Elect Joe Smith

A group of candidates purchase an advertisement which clearly identifies the office each candidate seeks:

Paid for by

Joe Smith, Sally Smith, Mary Contrary, James Jones,
Billy Jack, Phil Simpson, Polly Carter, and Lilly Adams


Each candidate/campaign must write a check directly to the newspaper for his/her portion of the advertising cost. One candidate is NOT allowed to pay the entire advertising cost and later have the other candidates reimburse the candidate. 

A Franklin County Executive Committee purchases an advertisement: 

Paid for by
Franklin County Democratic Executive Committee
300 Frankfort Avenue Frankfort, KY 40601

Private citizen Jane Smith purchases an advertisement to support a candidate:

Paid for by
Jane Smith
700 Walnut Street 
Frankfort, KY 40601

Jane Smith and her two sisters purchase an advertisement to support a candidate: 

Paid for by
Jane Smith; 700 Walnut Street; Frankfort, KY 40601 
Mary Smith; 22 Maple Street; Frankfort, KY 40601 
Sara Smith; 41 Oak Street; Frankfort, KY 40601

 

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Disclaimer Information


Does the campaign treasurer’s name have to be included in the disclaimer?

No.  The campaign finance laws only require the name of the candidate or the candidate’s committee to be listed in the disclaimer.  (Ex.: “Paid for by Joe Candidate” OR “Paid for by Committee to Elect Joe Candidate”).

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Is a newspaper ad that is 3 ½ x 5 inches or smaller required to have a disclaimer? 

Yes.  Newspaper ads require a disclaimer regardless of the size of the advertisement.  The campaign finance statute specifically states that “ALL newspaper or magazine advertising, posters, circulars, billboards, handbills, sample ballots and paid-for television or radio announcements…” are required to have the appropriate disclaimer. However, campaign finance laws state that a disclaimer is not required for “calling cards” smaller than 3 ½ x 5 inches. 

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When is a disclaimer required by a candidate?

All newspaper or magazine advertising, posters, circulars, billboards, handbills, sample ballots which expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, slate of candidates, or group of candidates for nomination or election to any public office shall be identified by the words “paid for by” followed by the name of the candidate, slate of candidates, or campaign committee, whichever is applicable.  “Paid for by the candidate” is not in compliance and should not be used.

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When is a disclaimer required by someone other than a candidate?

All newspaper or magazine advertising, posters, circulars, billboards, handbills, sample ballots which expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, slate of candidates, or group of candidates for nomination or election to any public office shall be identified by the words “paid for by” followed by the name and address of the individual or committee which paid for the communication.

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When is a disclaimer required for television and radio broadcasts?

Compliance with FCC regulations regarding sponsored programs and broadcasts by candidates for public office shall be considered compliance with Kentucky law.

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Are there any items exempt from the disclaimer requirements?

The Registry has exempted some items from the disclaimer requirement.  For example, balloons, emery boards, bumper stickers, matchbook covers, pencils, shirts and caps do not require disclaimers.  Any calling card smaller than 3 ½ x 5 inches is also exempted. Please see 32 KAR 2:110 for additional items which may be exempted.

Multiple page mailings will be considered in substantial compliance if at least one page of the mailing includes a disclaimer. Envelopes stamped with a return address which includes the name of the candidate or campaign committee indicating that the candidate is seeking election to public office must have the disclaimer unless at least one piece of the envelope’s contents includes a disclaimer.

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What is a Political Advertisement?

Political Advertising is any advertisement advocating the election or defeat of any candidate, political party, or public issue. 

For example, Political Advertising would NOT include the announcement of a fish fry sponsored by a political organization unless the advertisement stated that the fish fry endorses a candidate.

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What is the Correct Political Advertising Disclaimer?

Per KRS 121.190(1): All advertising advocating the election or defeat of any candidate shall be identified by the words "paid for by" followed by the name and address of the individual or committee which paid for the advertising; except that if paid for by a candidate, or campaign committee, it shall be identified only by the words "paid for by" followed by the name of the candidate or campaign committee. 

For television and radio broadcasts, compliance with Federal Communication Commission regulations regarding sponsored programs and broadcasts by candidates for public office shall be considered compliance with this section.  

NEVER USE:  “Paid for by Candidate.” This is an inappropriate disclaimer.

Examples of Correct Political Advertising Disclaimers: 

Candidate Joe Smith or someone from the Joe Smith Campaign Committee purchases an advertisement: 

Paid for by Joe Smith
or
Paid for by Committee to Elect Joe Smith

A group of candidates purchase an advertisement which clearly identifies the office each candidate seeks:

Paid for by

Joe Smith, Sally Smith, Mary Contrary, James Jones,
Billy Jack, Phil Simpson, Polly Carter, and Lilly Adams


Each candidate/campaign must write a check directly to the newspaper for his/her portion of the advertising cost. One candidate is NOT allowed to pay the entire advertising cost and later have the other candidates reimburse the candidate. 

A Franklin County Executive Committee purchases an advertisement: 

Paid for by
Franklin County Democratic Executive Committee
300 Frankfort Avenue Frankfort, KY 40601

Private citizen Jane Smith purchases an advertisement to support a candidate:

Paid for by
Jane Smith
700 Walnut Street 
Frankfort, KY 40601

Jane Smith and her two sisters purchase an advertisement to support a candidate: 

Paid for by
Jane Smith; 700 Walnut Street; Frankfort, KY 40601 
Mary Smith; 22 Maple Street; Frankfort, KY 40601 
Sara Smith; 41 Oak Street; Frankfort, KY 40601

 

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Treasurer Information

Is there a form I have to fill out if I want to change my campaign treasurer or my campaign depository?

You may complete a new Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Optional Request for Reporting Exemption form and check the amendment box.

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Should a candidate obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) when establishing his or her candidate campaign fund?

Yes.  Contact the Internal Revenue Service for instruction.  When a candidate sets up a campaign fund or campaign committee, per Internal Revenue Service regulations, it is generally treated as a separate taxable entity (even if it is just a bank account). As such, the Internal Revenue Service will require the account to be established under a separate employer identification number (EIN), even if it does not have employees.  A campaign fund established under the social security number of an individual (such as the candidate or treasurer) runs the risk of having the income from the campaign attributed to that individual by the IRS.

Regarding a candidate’s responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code, the Registry advises candidates that all questions about the registration, disclosure and annual tax reporting requirements of the IRS should be directed to IRS Customer Service at 1-877-829-5500, and the caller should request assistance from an Exempt Organizations Specialist.  You may also find additional information at the IRS website:  http://www.irs.gov/charities/political/

See also Candidate Guide to Campaign Finance (Revised 08/2011), p. 50.  Banking regulations may also require an EIN for a campaign bank account, but these rules also fall outside the jurisdiction of the Registry.

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Fundraising Events


The campaign is going to have a fundraising event and food will be sold to raise money for the campaign.  We are also going to accept additional contributions at that time.  How should these activities be reported?

Receipts from the proceeds of sales are considered contributions.  The entire purchase price is a contribution to the campaign.  Your campaign will need to keep records of the monetary contributions from individuals as well as the contributions from sales to individuals.  The individual’s total contribution cannot exceed $1,000 per election. 

When reporting the contributions from a fundraising event, you will report a summary of the event on Events Schedule 3 to the election finance statement form.  You will also report each receipt on Schedule 1A or the Summary Page of the reporting form.

You need to have a system in place to identify who made the purchases and/or made additional contributions at this event.  Either have the contributors fill out a sign-in card indicating what they have contributed or have a volunteer obtain this information from the contributors at the event.  It is important that you know who has contributed.  If the contributions are reported as anonymous contributions, any amount over $1,000 must be forwarded to the State Treasury.

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May candidates and committees use raffles as a means to raise funds or solicit campaign contributions?

No.  The use of “raffles” to collect campaign contributions is not directly addressed by Kentucky’s campaign finance law.  However, a “raffle” is defined by KRS Chapter 238 as a form of “charitable gaming” under the jurisdiction of the Department of Charitable Gaming.  Under current Kentucky law, charitable gaming can only be conducted to benefit common schools or organizations that qualify as charitable organizations under the Internal Revenue Code.  Political campaigns and committees are not charitable organizations under the Internal Revenue Code.  Instead they are political organizations exempt from taxation under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code.  For these reasons, a campaign or committee acts in violation of Kentucky law by holding a “raffle” to collect campaign contributions.  A “raffle” is distinguishable from a “door prize” in that a person must pay for the chance to win an item in a “raffle”, as opposed to anyone in attendance at an event having the opportunity to win a “door prize”.  You may call the Department of Charitable Gaming at (502) 573-5528 for further information.

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Internet / Website

I have a website for my campaign. Can I have links to my friend’s professional photography site who took my campaign pictures? 

No.  The funds in your campaign account are to be used to support your nomination and election to the office for which the funds were raised.  You cannot use campaign funds for a personal benefit or to privately benefit others.

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Committees Frequently Asked Questions

Permanent Committee (PAC)

What is a PAC/Permanent Committee?

A PAC is a Political Action Committee, also referred to as a Permanent Committee under Kentucky law. These committees are made up of a group of people sharing a common interest and supporting those interests by advocating the election or defeat of candidates, slates of candidates, or political parties. A PAC may contribute up to $1,000 per election to any candidate.

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What are the contribution limits for PACs?

PACs may contribute up to $1,000 to any candidate or slate of candidates per election.  This means that the PAC may contribute $1,000 in a primary and, if the candidate or slate wins the primary, the PAC may contribute $1,000 in the general election.

PACs may contribute up to $1,500 per year in the aggregate to non-affiliated PACs.  For example, if a PAC contributed $1,500 on January 1 of any year to another PAC, it could not make any more contributions to other PACs until January 1 of the next year.

PACs may contribute up to $2,500 per year in the aggregate to a political party executive committee.  This includes state and county executive committees.  Because state and county executive committees are affiliated, if a contribution of $2,500 is made to a state party committee, the PAC could make no contributions to any of the county executive committees of that party in the same calendar year.

PACs may contribute up to $2,500 per year in the aggregate to a caucus campaign committee.  There are four caucus campaign committees.  Because they are not affiliated, each caucus campaign committee may receive $2,500 per year.

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Can an existing PAC change its name? How is this accomplished?

Yes, a PAC may change its name.  To do this, the PAC must complete another Political Committee Registration form with its new name, address, name of the sponsor of the PAC, the major business, social or political interests of the PAC, and the name of the depository bank or financial institution. This form must be signed and dated by the chairman and the treasurer.  The PAC’s filer number and all financial information will stay the same.

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What does “affiliated” mean?  What are the contribution limits between affiliated PACs and what are the contribution limits from affiliated PACs to candidates, executive committees, and other non affiliated PACs?

PACs are considered affiliated based on the organization’s bylaw structure or by declaration on the PAC’s registration form.  The Registry may examine the relationship between organizations to determine whether the committees are affiliated for purposes of contribution limitations.

When making contributions to candidates, affiliated organizations are considered to be one (1) contributor and they are held jointly to the $1,000 contribution limit. (Example: if a state PAC made a $1,000 contribution to a candidate, the affiliated Federal PAC could not make a contribution to that candidate in that election).

There are no contributions limits between affiliated PACs.  The committees may transfer unlimited amounts between themselves.

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Can PACs accept contributions from partnerships?

Yes.  PACs, candidates, and executive committees may accept contributions from partnerships, LLCs, and LLPs.  PSCs are prohibited from contributing as they are considered to be corporate entities.

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What are the limits on contributions that PACs may make to campaigns?

PACs may contribute up to $1,000 to any candidate or slate of candidates per election.  This means the PAC may contribute $1,000 in a primary and, if the candidate or slate wins the primary, the PAC may contribute $1,000 in the general election.

An additional limit is set on PAC receipts.  A campaign may only accept 50 percent of its total contributions or $10,000, whichever is the greater amount per election from PACs.  Any amount over 50 percent must be refunded to the PAC.

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What is the limit on contributions from affiliated PACs to candidates?

When making a contribution to candidates, affiliated organizations are considered to be one (1) contributor and they are held jointly to the $1,000 contribution limit.  (Example: if a state PAC made a $1,000 contribution to a candidate, the affiliated Federal PAC could not make a contribution to that candidate in that election.)

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What is the difference between an in-kind contribution given by a PAC to a candidate and an independent expenditure?

An in-kind contribution is goods, advertising or services furnished by a PAC without charge or at a rate which is less than the rate normally charged for the goods or services.  The campaign is responsible for reporting in-kind contributions on its election finance statement.

An independent expenditure is the expenditure of money or other thing of value to promote a candidate, slate of candidates or committee without the campaign or any authorized person acting on behalf of the campaign having any prior knowledge of the activity.  There is no limit on independent expenditures; however, an “Independent Expenditure Report” must be completed and forwarded to the Registry when the aggregate amount of the independent expenditure exceeds $500.  The candidates, slate of candidates or committee are not responsible for reporting the independent expenditure on the election finance statement.

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Political Issue Committee

There is no contribution limit on what an individual, business, or a corporation may contribute to a political issues committee.  This is the only exception to the prohibition on corporations making political contributions.

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Do registration and reporting requirements apply to persons spending money or campaigning in an attempt to get an issue on the ballot?

No, but campaign finance law applies when the issue is on ballot.  Campaign finance registration and reporting requirements do not apply to “referendum activities,” where persons spend money or campaign in an attempt to get an issue on the ballot.  Once the issue is on the ballot, however, registration and reporting as a political issues committee may apply.  KRS 121.015(3)(c) defines "political issues committee" to mean 3 or more persons who join together to advocate or oppose a constitutional amendment or public question which appears on the ballot, when the committee receives or spends money in excess of $1,000.  Committee registration requirements are found in KRS 121.170 and reporting requirements are set forth in KRS 121.180.

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Caucus Campaign Committee

A caucus campaign committee is one of the following caucus groups which receive contributions and make expenditures to support or oppose one or more specific candidates or slates of candidates for nomination or election, or a committee:

House Democratic caucus campaign committee; 
House Republican caucus campaign committee;
Senate Democratic caucus campaign committee; or
Senate Republican caucus campaign committee.

Yes.  All committees must file reports whether or not they have had any financial activity.

Caucus campaign committees file 30-day post-election finance statements for both the primary and general elections.

No.  Committees affiliated by the structure of their by-laws, registration or membership are considered one committee for the purposes of applying the maximum contribution limit.  Because caucus campaign committees and executive committees are not affiliated, they are not subject to a shared contribution limit; however, a caucus campaign committee cannot transfer funds to another caucus campaign committee or to party executive committees.

The maximum contribution limit to a caucus campaign committee is $2,500 per calendar year (not per election).  If a contributor makes a single $2,500 contribution to a particular caucus campaign committee on January 1, 20XX, that contributor cannot make any other contributions to that particular caucus campaign committee until the next calendar year.  However, the contributor may contribute $2,500 to other caucus campaign committees and up to $2,500 in the aggregate to executive committees. 

No.  Those organizations are primarily social in nature.  However, funds may be expended for advertising with the organization so long as the expenditure furthers a candidacy.

Yes.  Partnerships may contribute to caucus campaign committees in one of two ways.  First, a partnership may qualify as a contributing organization under KRS 121.015 and may contribute a maximum of $2,500 per calendar year in the aggregate.  Second, the partners may contribute individually from funds derived from the partnership.  If a partnership check is issued, information from the partnership must be obtained listing the percentage of the contribution attributable to each partner.

Yes.  Limited liability companies (LLC’s) and limited liability partnerships (LLP’s) may contribute up to $2,500 per calendar year to individual caucus campaign committees.

This question should be referred to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.
The commission enforces the code of Legislative Ethics and regulates conduct by legislators, lobbyists and the employers of lobbyists. 

Yes, but the check must be signed by both spouses or a statement must be provided indicating the donative intent of the check.

No.  Corporate contributions of any kind, monetary or in-kind, to executive committees are prohibited pursuant to KRS 121.035.

Yes.  Caucus campaign committees may contribute to more than one candidate or a slate of candidates and there is no limit on contributions made to candidates or slates of candidates from caucus campaign committees.  However, candidates may not retain more than 50% of their total contributions or $10,000, whichever is greater, per election from caucus campaign committees.  The calculations are the responsibility of the candidate or a slate of candidates..

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Executive Committee

Yes.  All committees must file reports whether or not they have had any financial activity.

The maximum contribution limit to an executive committee is $2,500 per calendar year (not per election) in the aggregate.  For example, if a contributor makes $2,500 in total contributions to his or her state and county executive committees on January 1, 20XX, that contributor cannot make any more contributions to any other executive committees until the next calendar year.

No.  Those organizations are primarily social in nature. However, funds may be expended for advertising with the organization so long as the expenditure furthers a candidacy. 

No.  Contributions in excess of $1,000 made to a local executive committee must be transferred to the state executive committee’s administrative account.  However, if $2,500 is given directly to the state executive committee, the entire contribution may be retained in the state executive committee’s general fund account.

No.  The Registry also needs to be notified.  The Registry sends update letters and reporting forms once a year.  If the information changes after this, the committee should send a letter to the Registry to notify of the changes.

The Income Tax Check-Off program allows taxpayers to designate on their income tax forms two dollars ($2.00) to be forwarded to the political party of their choice.  Fifty cents (.50) is forwarded to the executive committee in the taxpayer’s county of residence and the remainder is forwarded to the designated political party’s state executive committee.

Referred to as “ITC funds,” these monies may be used only to support the party’s candidates in the general election and to pay administrative expenses associated with party headquarters.

The Registry is required to annually audit the records of ITC receipts and expenditures of executive committees receiving over $1,500 in ITC funds, and may annually audit the ITC records of all other executive committees. The Registry must report the results of each ITC audit conducted to the General Assembly, pursuant to KRS 121.230(5).

This check can be deposited in the executive committee’s regular checking account.  However, the general fund and the ITC fund must be reported separately on the committee’s 30-day post-election finance statements to the Registry.  If an executive committee does not wish to retain ITC funds, checks may be endorsed to the state executive committee, or sent back to the Revenue Cabinet.  DO NOT SEND THE CHECK TO THE REGISTRY.

Yes.  Partnerships may contribute to executive committees in one of two ways.  First, a partnership may qualify as a contributing organization under KRS 121.015 and may contribute a maximum of $2,500 per calendar year in the aggregate.  Second, the partners may contribute individually from funds derived from the partnership.  If a partnership check is issued, information from the partnership must be obtained listing the percentage of the contribution attributable to each partner. 

Yes.  Limited liability companies (LLC’s)  and limited liability partnerships (LLP’s) may contribute up to $2,500 per calendar year to executive committees.

Yes, but the check must be signed by both spouses or a statement must be provided indicating the donative intent of the check.

No.  Corporate contributions of any kind, monetary or in-kind, to executive committees are prohibited pursuant to KRS 121.035.

There is no limit on contributions made to a candidate or a slate of candidates from executive committees. However, candidates may not retain more than 50% of their total contributions, or $10,000, whichever is greater, per election from executive committees.  The calculations are the responsibility of the candidate or a slate of candidates..

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Electronic Filing Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of the electronic filing software to the candidate?

Please refer to the Registry's Approved Software page for contact information pertaining to the software you are interesting in using 

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Do I have to send both the "hard copy" report and the electronic file to the Registry?

Yes, the "hard copy" report is the official record and must be sent to the Registry.

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How do I amend an electronic report?

Change the appropriate data on the transaction to be amended. Check the box designated as Amendment. Click on the Save button. This must be done for each transaction that is amended.

Note: Only data that has previously been submitted to the Registry needs to be amended.

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When I amend a report do I have to send both the hard copy report and the electronic file?

Yes.

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How do I delete a record for an amended report?

This procedure is for records already submitted to the registry. Change the amount field to zero. Mark the record as amended. Re-submit the amended report to the Registry.

Note: You may, at any time delete a record that has not been submitted to the Registry.

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How do I assume a loan?

Please refer to the Registry's Approved Software page for contact information.

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How do I assume a debt not designated as a loan?

Please refer to the Registry's Approved Software page for contact information.

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Why do I have to create a new database for each election?

Some candidates will be required to file separate reports for different elections (Primary and General) during the same time period. The software selects the data with a date range. If you mix data from two elections and have separate reports for an overlapping time period, the software cannot distinguish data from one election to another.

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What is a candidate number?

The Registry assigns a number to a candidate when the candidate informs the Registry of his or her intent to run for office for the first time. This number will not change for the life of the candidate regardless of the office sought or election.

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What is a filer number?

The Registry assigns a number to a candidate for each election. This number will be assigned each time the candidate notifies the Registry of his or her intent to run for office. (The Primary and General are separate elections.)

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How do I key an unitemized contribution?

Campaign finance law does not require the treasurer to report detailed and exact accounts of contributions of $100 or less. However, internal records must be maintained to identify the sources of contributions as they occur in order to aggregate each individual or group contribution with subsequent contributions by that particular individual or group. If a receipt is designated as "unitemized" it will not print out on the detail report. However, it will be added to the "unitemized" figure on the summary page.

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How do I terminate my reporting requirements?

If your balance is zero, select the Terminate check box when creating your final report. Your balance must be zero in order to terminate your reporting requirements.

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When using Campaign ToolBox™, why can't I see "Candidate" in the Contributor Type Code list?

To correct the problem, open the software, click on Tools, then select Initial Program Setup. Click on Yes to verify the correct database name, click OK to confirm the database name, and then click Next on step 0 of 53. On step 1 of 53, change the entity type to "Candidate." Continue to step 18, and click on the Cancel/Close button. Click Yes to exit Initial Program Setup. When you return to the Contributions Entry Screen, you will now be able to chose "Candidate."

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How do I add additional fundraiser information for an event that happened in a previous reporting period or will be held in the future?

Enter any receipts or expenditures as usual. On the Fundraiser screen, for the start and end date, enter the start and end date of the current reporting period. In the Event description field, enter the type of fundraising event and date it was held or will be held. Enter the Amount Raised and Amount Spent during the current reporting period.

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If I begin reporting electronically after reporting manually during the same election period, how do I get my cumulative totals and beginning balance correct?

If you have been filing manually (and have not raised or spent money toward the upcoming election), enter the beginning balance when creating the report. If you have been filing manually (and have raised or spent money toward the upcoming election), you must enter all contributions, expenses, debts, and fundraising activity from previously manually filed reports for this election period. This will ensure your cumulative totals and beginning balance will be correct.

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Political Advertising Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Political Advertisement?

Political Advertising is any advertisement advocating the election or defeat of any candidate, political party, or public issue.

For example, Political Advertising would NOT include the announcement of a fish fry sponsored by a political organization unless the advertisement stated that the fish fry endorses a candidate.

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What is the Correct Political Advertising Disclaimer?

Per KRS 121.190(1): All advertising advocating the election or defeat of any candidate shall be identified by the words "paid for by" followed by the name and address of the individual or committee which paid for the advertising; except that if paid for by a candidate, or campaign committee, it shall be identified only by the words "paid for by" followed by the name of the candidate or campaign committee.

For television and radio broadcasts, compliance with Federal Communication Commission regulations regarding sponsored programs and broadcasts by candidates for public office shall be considered compliance with this section.

NEVER USE: “Paid for by Candidate.” This is an inappropriate disclaimer.

Examples of Correct Political Advertising Disclaimers:

Candidate Joe Smith or someone from the Joe Smith Campaign Committee purchases an advertisement:

Paid for by Joe Smith
or
Paid for by Committee to Elect Joe Smith

A group of candidates purchase an advertisement which clearly identifies the office each candidate seeks:

Paid for by
Joe Smith, Sally Smith, Mary Contrary, James Jones,
Billy Jack, Phil Simpson, Polly Carter, and Lilly Adams

Each candidate/campaign must write a check directly to the newspaper for his/her portion of the advertising cost. One candidate is NOT allowed to pay the entire advertising cost and later have the other candidates reimburse the candidate.

A Franklin County Executive Committee purchases an advertisement:

Paid for by

Franklin County Democratic Executive Committee
300 Frankfort Avenue Frankfort, KY 40601

Private citizen Jane Smith purchases an advertisement to support a candidate:

Paid for by

Jane Smith
700 Walnut Street
Frankfort, KY 40601

Jane Smith and her two sisters purchase an advertisement to support a candidate:

Paid for by

Jane Smith; 700 Walnut Street; Frankfort, KY 40601
Mary Smith; 22 Maple Street; Frankfort, KY 40601
Sara Smith; 41 Oak Street; Frankfort, KY 40601

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Complaint Procedures

Does Kentucky law authorize staff for the Registry of Election Finance to “dismiss” a duly filed complaint absent action by the Registry as an administrative body?

No.  The Registry’s complaint procedures are set out in KRS 121.140 and 32 KAR 2:030.  See “How to File a Complaint,” KREF016/COM Rev. 9/2006.  When a complaint is received, the complaint will be reviewed by the Registry’s General Counsel for compliance with the requirements of 32 KAR 2:030(3).  The complaint may be returned to the complainant for failure to meet any one of the technical requirements of 32 KAR 2:030(3); however, return of the complaint due to a technical deficiency does not constitute dismissal of the complaint. 

If a complaint meets the technical requirements for filing, Registry procedure provides that Respondents be served and have 15 days in which to respond before any Registry action, including dismissal, may be taken.

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Last Updated 10/3/2011
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