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Independent Expenditure Requirements

Maryland Law requires registration and report filing with the State Board of elections (SBE) by any person who makes aggregate independent expenditures of $10,000 or more in an election cycle on campaign material.

How does a person register an Independent Expenditure Entity with SBE:

Register your Independent Expenditure entity.

When are the reports due:

If the campaign material relates to a candidate, the person shall file an independent expenditure report with the State Board on the next date that the candidate’s authorized candidate campaign committee is required to file a campaign finance report under § 13–309.

If the campaign material relates to a ballot issue, the person shall file an independent expenditure report with the State Board on the next date the ballot issue committee is required to file a campaign finance report under § 13–309.

Following the closing date of the person’s previous independent expenditure report, the person shall file additional independent expenditure reports on the next scheduled campaign finance report due if that person makes aggregate independent expenditures of $10,000 or more for campaign material.

See the Reporting Schedule for dates.

What information is required on the Independent Expenditure Report:

The report shall include a detailed accounting on every expenditure made; including the name of the candidate or ballot issue to which the independent expenditure relates and whether it supports or opposes that candidate or ballot issue.  Additionally, the report shall include the names and address of any donors associated with the independent expenditure. 

For more information see COMAR 33.13.08.03.

Statute:

§13–306.  

(a)        (1)   In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2)   “Donation” means the gift or transfer, or promise of gift or transfer, of money or other thing of value to a person that is made for the purpose of furthering independent expenditures.

(3)   “Mass mailing” means a mailing by United States mail or facsimile of more than 500 pieces of mail matter of an identical or substantially similar nature within any 30–day period.

(4)         (i)   “Person” includes an individual, a partnership, a committee, an association, a corporation, a labor organization, or any other organization or group of persons.

(ii)   “Person” does not include a campaign finance entity organized under Subtitle 2, Part II of this title.

(5)    (i)   “Public communication” means a communication by means of any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mass mailing, or telephone bank to the general public, or any other form of general public political advertising.

(ii)   “Public communication” does not include:

1.   a news story, a commentary, or an editorial disseminated by a broadcasting station, including a cable television operator, programmer, or producer, satellite television or radio provider, Web site, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, including any Internet or electronic publication, that is not controlled by a candidate or political party; or

2.   a candidate debate or forum.

(6)   “Telephone bank” means more than 500 telephone calls of an identical or substantially similar nature within any 30–day period.

(b)   After a person makes aggregate independent expenditures of $10,000 or more in an election cycle for campaign material that is a public communication, the person shall file an independent expenditure report as required in this section.

(c)        (1)   If the campaign material relates to a candidate, the person shall file an independent expenditure report with the State Board on the next date a campaign finance entity of a candidate is required to file a campaign finance report under § 13–309 of this subtitle.

(2)   If the campaign material relates to a ballot issue, the person shall file an independent expenditure report with the State Board on the next date a ballot issue committee is required to file a campaign finance report under § 13–309 of this subtitle.

(3)   An independent expenditure report filed under this subsection shall include the information required by subsection (e) of this section for the period from the beginning of the election cycle through the last day of the reporting period under § 13–312 of this subtitle that precedes the report filing date.

(d)        (1)   A person who files an independent expenditure report under subsection (c) of this section shall file an additional independent expenditure report following a date on which the person makes aggregate independent expenditures of $10,000 or more for campaign material that is a public communication following the closing date of the person’s previous independent expenditure report.

(2)   An independent expenditure report under this subsection shall:

(i)   be filed with the State Board on the date specified in subsection (c)(1) and (2) of this section; and

(ii)   include the information required by subsection (e) of this section for the period from the closing date of the previous independent expenditure report through the last day of the reporting period under § 13–312 of this subtitle that precedes the report filing date.

(e)   An independent expenditure report shall include the following information:

(1)   the identity of the person making the independent expenditures and of any person exercising direction or control over the activities of the person making the independent expenditures;

(2)   the business address of the person making the independent expenditures;

(3)   the amount and date of each independent expenditure during the period covered by the report and the person to whom the expenditure was made;

(4)   the candidate or ballot issue to which the independent expenditure relates and whether the independent expenditure supports or opposes that candidate or ballot issue; and

(5)   the identity of each person who made cumulative donations in excess of $51 to the person making the independent expenditures during the period covered by the report.

(f)   For purposes of this section, a person shall be considered to have made an independent expenditure if the person has executed a contract to make an independent expenditure.

(g)   The cost of creating and disseminating campaign material, including any design and production costs, shall be considered in determining the aggregate amount of independent expenditures made by a person for campaign material that is a public communication under this section.

(h)   The treasurer or other individual designated by an entity required to file an independent expenditure report under this section:

(1)   shall sign each independent expenditure report; and

(2)   is responsible for filing independent expenditure reports in full and accurate detail.

(i)         (1)   An individual is subject to the sanctions that apply to the responsible officers of a campaign finance entity under Part VII of this subtitle for failure to file properly an independent expenditure report.

(2)   The failure to provide on an independent expenditure report all of the information required by this section is deemed a failure to file and renders the report overdue as provided in § 13–327(b) of this subtitle.

(j)         (1)   An entity required to file an independent expenditure report under this section shall do at least one of the following, unless neither are applicable to the entity:

(i)   if the entity submits regular, periodic reports to its shareholders, members, or donors, include in each report, in a clear and conspicuous manner, the information specified in subsection (e)(3) through (5) of this section for each independent expenditure made during the period covered by the report that must be included in an independent expenditure report; or

(ii)   if the entity maintains an Internet site, post on that Internet site a hyperlink from its homepage to the Internet site where the entity’s independent expenditure report information is publicly available.

(2)   An entity shall post the hyperlink required under paragraph (1)(ii) of this subsection within 24 hours of the entity’s independent expenditure report information being made publicly available on the Internet, and the hyperlink shall remain posted on the entity’s Internet site until the end of the election cycle during which the entity filed an independent expenditure report.

(k)        (1)   A person required to file an independent expenditure report under this section shall keep detailed and accurate records of:

(i)   all independent expenditures made by the person for campaign material that is a public communication; and

(ii)   all donations received by the person that are for the purpose of furthering independent expenditures for campaign material that is a public communication.

(2)   Records required to be kept under this subsection shall be preserved for 2 years after the end of the election cycle in which the person filed the independent expenditure report to which the records relate.

(l)   The State Board may adopt regulations as necessary to implement the requirements of this section.