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This article is intended to provide information on the responsibilities of persons serving as treasurers of committees who are required to comply with FEC regulations. It provides some answers to frequently asked questions and links to various resources provided by the FEC to help treasurers stay in compliance with the law and regulations.
What are the treasurer’s primary responsibilities?
A committee treasurer ensures the committee's compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations. The treasurer is responsible for:
Registering the Committee
A political committee must register with the FEC by filing a Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) within 10 days after the committee qualifies as a "political committee" under the Act. See 11 CFR 100.5 and 102.1.
Monitoring Receipts and Expenditures
The treasurer must make sure that committee receipts are deposited in the designated campaign depository (i.e., the bank or credit union) within 10 days of receipt. 103.3(a). The treasurer must also authorize all committee expenditures or designate agents, either orally or in writing, who may authorize expenditures. 102.7(a), (c) and 102.9.
Recordkeeping and Reporting
The treasurer is responsible for the timely and accurate filing of financial reports with the FEC. 104.14(d). To carry this out, and to monitor compliance with the law's limits and prohibitions, the regulations require a treasurer to maintain records of receipts and disbursements from the very beginning of the committee's operations. 102.9 and 104.14(b). The treasurer is required to preserve all records and accounts for 3 years after the report to which such records and accounts relate is filed. 102.9(c).
The committee may not accept contributions from sources prohibited under the law or contributions that exceed that law's limits. Similarly, the committee may not make contributions that exceed the legal limits. 110.9. The treasurer is responsible for monitoring contributions received and made by the committee to ensure compliance with these requirements. 103.3(b).
What are a treasurer’s potential liabilities?
In enforcement actions where a political committee is a respondent, the committee’s treasurer will typically be subject to Commission action only in his or her official capacity. However, when information indicates that a treasurer has knowingly and willfully violated the Act, recklessly failed to fulfill duties specifically imposed by the Act, or intentionally deprived himself or herself of facts giving rise to the violation, the Commission will consider the treasurer subject to action in a personal capacity. See Statement of Policy Regarding Treasurers Subject to Enforcement Proceedings, 70 Fed. Reg. 3 (January 3, 2005).
Under the FEC’s Administrative Fines Program, committees may be required to pay civil money penalties if a treasurer files a report late or fails to file a report. See 11 CFR 111.30-111.46.
The Act and Commission regulations do not govern a treasurer's personal liability for payment of the committee's debts. In general, debt claims and liabilities are subject to relevant state law. See Advisory Opinion 1975-102.
Do I need special qualifications to serve as treasurer?
No. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident (“green card holder”) can become a treasurer. No special training is required, but knowledge of basic accounting principles is helpful. Also, committee treasurers have special responsibilities under the law, so they should have a basic understanding of the relevant campaign finance laws.
Our treasurer has resigned. How do we appoint a new treasurer?
Under the Act and Commission regulations, a political committee may not accept contributions or make expenditures without a treasurer. 102.7(b). Any change in the information disclosed on the committee’s Statement of Organization, including a change in treasurers, must be reported within 10 days after the change takes place. The committee must file either an amended Statement of Organization or a letter noting the change. 102.2(a)(2). The form or letter may be signed by either the outgoing or incoming treasurer, or the assistant treasurer.
To avoid delays in reporting and other compliance problems that could develop in the treasurer's absence, the FEC recommends that all committees designate an assistant treasurer on their Statements of Organization. An officially designated assistant treasurer may function as the treasurer if the treasurer is absent or unable to exercise his or her duties. 102.7(a).
I’m new to campaign finance. Does the FEC provide additional assistance or training opportunities?
The FEC offers the following free publications to help treasurers carry out their duties:
The FEC will also provide free copies of the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC regulations.
To further assist treasurers, the FEC automatically emails them a monthly newsletter, the Record, and reporting notices, both of which announce reporting deadlines. In addition, the FEC conducts workshops and conferences throughout the country to explain the requirements of the campaign finance law. See www.fec.gov/info/outreach.shtml for these training opportunities.
Finally, the FEC provides information on its “Resources for Committee Treasurers” web page, and operates a public information office to help committee staff understand and comply with the campaign finance law. Call 800/424-9530 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
(Posted 3/1/2012; By: Zainab Smith)
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