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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2020 09:29 AM
From: Representative Perry S. Warren
To: All House members
Subject: Campaign Finance Report Transparency and Uniformity - Itemizing Campaign Expenditures
Candidates for elective office and their campaign committees are required to file campaign finance reports with the Department of State. Among the categories of information required on the campaign finance report is a statement of expenditures.

Existing law is minimal, and there are no guidelines as to what and how a candidate or campaign committee is to report on expenditure. My bill will serve as both a law and a guideline to ensure greater accuracy, clarity, uniformity and most importantly, transparency, in the reporting of campaign expenditures.

We live in a credit card world. For convenience, by necessity, or for recurring expenses, and to create a record of a transaction, many candidates pay campaign expenses by credit card. In addition, many candidates advance campaign costs, with the expectation of later being reimbursed for the campaign expenses by the campaign committee. Then, a check is issued by the campaign committee directly to the credit card company or to the candidate to pay or reimburse the campaign expense.

Under present law, there is no guidance as to how to report on the campaign finance report the payment or reimbursement by a campaign committee to a credit card company or candidate. Some campaign committees report the payment as to “XXX Credit Card Company.” Since I was elected, my campaign committee treasurer has reported the payment to a credit card company or the reimbursement of campaign expenses to me, and then listed the underlying payee(s) in the “Description” box on the campaign finance report. Other campaign treasurers have used different means of reporting the payments or reimbursements and underlying payees. And, under existing law, all of these methods of reporting are legal.

My bill will standardize the reporting. Payments to a credit card company shall be reported on the campaign finance report and shall identify and itemize the payee and amount of each charge that is being paid to a credit card company. Further, my bill will require that any reimbursement to a candidate, or to a campaign staff person, shall be itemized and the payee and amount of each expense identified. In addition, my bill will require that for any reimbursement to a candidate for an expense in excess of $50 paid in cash, or by gift card, the candidate or campaign committee shall attach a receipt for the cash expense to the campaign finance report. Finally, my bill will direct the Department of State to modify the campaign finance reporting forms to allow sufficient space on the forms to itemize expenditures charged to a credit card or reimbursed to a candidate.

Please note – my bill applies only to the reporting of campaign expenditures on campaign finance reports. It does not apply to official legislative expenditures, for which there are existing laws, guidelines and policies.

Please join me in cosponsoring this bill, which will provide guidance to all candidates and campaign committee treasurers as to how to report payments made to a credit card company, or to reimburse a candidate or campaign staff person, and will ensure uniformity and transparency in campaign finance reporting.

Introduced as HB502