Blogs » Victoria County Election Administrator » Keeping Track of the Money

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All candidates for public office must track the flow of money in their campaigns. This information must also be available to the general public. The proper method for accomplishing this requirement is to file regular financial reports. Local county offices file their reports with the Elections Office.

The first step for a candidate is to file a Designation of a Campaign Treasurer. The treasurer can be anyone who may assist the candidate in accounting for monies received and monies spent for the person to obtain public office. The treasurer can even be the candidate. Even with a campaign treasurer, the candidate is responsible for the accuracy of all reports.

The campaign treasurer appointment must be on file prior to accepting or spending any money on the campaign. The filing fee for a place on the ballot is considered a campaign expense.

Campaign finance rules require listing of every donation to the campaign of more than $50 during a reporting period. This listing must provide the name and address of each individual or business who provides cash, check or in-kind services to the campaign. The same is true for all expenditures made by the campaign which are greater than $50. For those donations or expenses which are $50 or less the report must provide the aggregate amounts.

There are two main reporting periods, the first half of the year and the second half of the year. These reports are due on July 15th and January 15th for the previous six months. When candidates have opponents in a pending election their are two additional reports, the first 30 days prior to the election and the second report only 8 days prior to the election.

Candidates may receive cash in amounts less than $100 but anything greater must be in the form of a traceable document. Candidates are prohibited from receiving funds from corporations. They are allowed to borrow money to fund their campaigns.

Candidates may spend personal funds on the campaign and may even reimburse themselves from the campaign if enough money is raised but they may not use campaign funds for personal expenses. At the end of the election if there are any funds left in the campaign, those may be held for future elections or donated to a political party or another candidate.

The Texas Ethics Commission is the authority for all issues related to campaign finance. All candidates, other than local office seekers, file their reports with the Ethics Commission. Any complaints related to campaign reports may only be made to the Commission.

Now much of this information is boring and most people will have stopped reading by now. But who finances campaigns is becoming more and more important on the local level. Where only a few years ago a campaign could be run for less than a few thousand dollars, recently some local candidates have spent more than $10,000 on a race. And some of these didn't win. Where the money goes is important but where the money comes from is political persuasion.