Michigan Candidates and Reporting Waivers: What triggers a requirement to file a financial disclosure?

Just because a candidate committee has been granted a Reporting Waiver, it does not mean the candidate committee is completely released from all obligations to report. Certain actions during the course of the campaign can revoke the waiver automatically and it is up to the candidate committee to recognize that these triggers have occurred and file the required disclosures.

In Michigan, a Candidate Committee that does not expect to receive or expend more than $1000 in an election cycle can ask for a reporting waiver which relieves them of the requirement to file financial disclosures either quarterly, or pre or post election. If the candidate raises or expends more than $1000 during an Election Cycle the candidate must report. The Election Cycle is calculated from the first day after the last election to the date of the upcoming election for an office. The candidate committee will need to go back to the last report where expenditures were made under $1000 or receipts came in under a $1000 and bring the report current, but the report can be the current report due dated back to the last report filed.

THIS IS CRITICAL FOR CANDIDATES TO REMEMBER: The date that the expenditure or receipt occurs is the date that the committee loses its waiver.  There are no letters or emails from the Bureau of Elections, the requirement just begins.

One type of expenditure that is a frequent source of confusion is when the candidate uses his or her own funds to purchase items or services during the campaign. The candidate’s own funds count toward the $1000 threshold. So, charges made to a credit card, for example, are considered receipts to the campaign–In-Kind– and must be reported. (Note:  Charges to a credit card over the threshold must also be reported as 48-hour late contribution reports!)

Once an election cycle is complete, following the General Election, Candidate Committees of Judicial candidates who are successful in their election are automatically granted the Reporting Waiver and the Statement of Organization for this successful judicial committee does not need to be amended to obtain the waiver. It is good practice to check with the Bureau that they have actually awarded the waiver to the committee though, before assuming the Bureau has granted it.

Although the waiver allows the Candidate Committee not to have to file pre or post election reports, quarterly or annual reports, it does not waive the need to update a Statement of Organization with correct information, file 48-hour late contribution reports, or waive the requirement to keep detailed records.

After an election, any debt on the books of a candidate committee that exceeds $1000 will automatically result in the denial of a reporting waiver. Lastly it should be noted that a reporting waiver cannot be granted retroactively to avoid paying fines for failure to report, much to the dismay of many candidates–especially those who have lost their race and now find raising any campaign funds next to impossible.

Questions regarding whether your candidate or PAC is compliant or need assistance with your filings? Contact us today.

– Jean Kordenbrock, Entrepreneur, CEO, Attorney, Athlete