Question: I may run for office in Florida. When may I begin raising campaign funds?
A potential candidate may begin raising campaign funds at any time after filing with the appropriate filing officer and designating a campaign treasurer and bank.
Question: What are my responsibilities as a candidate for reporting campaign fund activities?
Each candidate is personally responsible for compliance with Chapter 106 requirements to designate a campaign treasurer, maintain records of contributions and expenditures and file campaign reports of contributions and expenditures with the appropriate filing officer. Failure to file a campaign report on the designated due date will result in a fine of $50 per day for each late day or 25% of total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater. Fines increase for campaign reports due immediately before a primary or general election.
Question: Where can I get required forms?
Chapter 106 forms, which are prescribed by the Secretary of State, are available from the Division of Elections and local supervisors of elections. NOTE: It is suggested that forms be obtained from the appropriate filing officer.
Question: If I don’t collect or spend any money during a reporting period, do I still have to file a campaign treasurer’s report?
In any reporting period during which a candidate has not received funds or made any expenditures, the filing of the required report for that period may be waived. The candidate must indicate there is no activity by filing a waiver of report. This is accomplished by clicking on the "Submit Waiver" button on the right side of the "Entering Financial Report Data" page. The next report filed must specify that the report covers the entire period between the last submitted report and the report being filed.
Question: What are the maximum contribution limits in Florida? (see 106.08)
(combination of monetary and/or in-kind)
- To a candidate for countywide office or to a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis, $1000.
- To a candidate for legislative or multi-county office, $1000.
- To a candidate for statewide office, $3000.
- To a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge, $1000.
- To a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal, $1000.
- To a candidate for retention as a justice of the supreme court, $3000.
NOTE: The contribution limits provided above do not apply to contributions made by state or executive committees of a political party or to amounts contributed by a candidate to his own campaign.
The limitations do apply to each election. The primary and general election are deemed separate elections. However, for the purpose of contribution limits with respect to candidates for retention as a justice or judge, there is only one election. With respect to candidates in a circuit holding an election for circuit judge or in a county holding and election for county court judge, there are two elections, which are the primary and the general.
NOTE: No contributions may be received by a candidate or his treasurer after the date at which the candidate:
- Withdraws his candidacy.
- Becomes unopposed.
- Is elected to office or eliminated.
Question: What is an in-kind contribution?
An in-kind contribution is anything of value made for the purpose of influencing an election. In- kind contributions are subject to the $1000 contribution limit. In-kind contributions are not actual money but rather goods or services provided that have a monetary value attached to them such as: printing services, wood for signs, office space, office equipment, etc.
Question: What is the cut-off date for an opposed candidate to receive a contribution prior to an election?
No later than midnight five (5) days prior to the election. For a Tuesday election the cut-off would be the Thursday prior to the election at midnight.
Question: Can I accept cash contributions?
Yes. Chapter 106 limits any single cash contribution or contribution by cashier’s check to no more than $50. This $50 limitation does not apply to personal or business checks and other things of value.
Question: Can I accept anonymous contributions?
No. Chapter 106 requires a candidate to maintain records of each contribution and its source.
Question: Must I have a disclaimer on my campaign advertisements?
Yes. Political disclaimer information is provided by the Division of Elections and the Supervisor of Elections.
Question: If I am elected, defeated, unopposed, or withdraw my candidacy, what must I do with surplus funds?
A candidate must dispose of surplus funds pursuant to Chapter 106.141. See 106.141 for the various methods allowable by law for disposing of surplus funds.
Question: May I continue to accept contributions to pay a campaign debt after I lose or win an election?
No. A candidate may not accept a contribution after he is defeated, becomes unopposed, or is elected to office. Only refunds, such as deposits, for example, deposits required for erecting signs, are permitted.
Question: Can I still accept contributions after I take office?
No. A candidate has 90 days to dispose of campaign funds in a campaign account after he/she becomes unopposed, withdraws or is eliminated or elected, which ever comes first. (see 106.141)
Question: If I am elected, when can I start raising campaign funds for re-election to the same office?
An office holder may begin raising campaign funds for reelection at any time after he/she has redesignated a campaign depository and renamed a treasurer for that future election by filing with the appropriate filing officer.
Question: Can I use campaign funds collected for election for one office if I decide to seek a different office?
Yes. A candidate is not prohibited from changing his office designation and using campaign funds for a new candidacy, HOWEVER, certain rules must be followed. See 106.021.
Question: Can I accept contributions from people who do not reside in Florida?
Yes. Chapter 106 Does not distinguish between Florida and non-Florida individuals for contribution purposes.
Question: Can I put my campaign funds in a savings account and earn interest on them?
Question: I am a candidate and I am complying with Chapter 106 reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures. My opponent is refusing to file any reports. What can I do?
You may file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission by requesting a complaint form from your local Supervisor of Elections or the Division of Elections. The sworn complaint must be filed with the Florida Elections Commission.
Question: Can two candidates have a fund raiser together?
There are no restrictions on two candidates having a fund raiser together as long as they adhere to all the requirements of Chapter 106 and keep track of individual contributions.
Question: Can a candidate be his/her own campaign treasurer?
A candidate may serve as his/her own campaign treasurer. (see 106.021) Campaigning is very demanding. We advise that a candidate appoint a treasurer , in addition to him/herself, known as a deputy treasurer.
Question: Who may serve as a campaign treasurer?
Any registered voter in the state.
Question: Can a candidate make a contribution to a charity out of campaign funds?
Yes, provided the contribution is not made “in exchange for political support.” Although the general rule applies that expenditures from the campaign account are “made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election,” there must not be any type of quid pro quo agreement of support from the group. (see FS 106.08(5) and the Division of Elections opinion 04-02)
Question: If a candidate is receiving an in-kind contribution of office space for his/her campaign and it exceeds the limits, what should he/she do?
The candidate may accept an in-kind contribution up to the limits. He/she could not accept anything over the limits. It is suggested that he/she pay for the office space after the limit is reached if he/she wishes to continue to use the office space.
Question: If I do receive a contribution after I withdraw, become unopposed or after I am elected or eliminated, what do I do with it?
The contribution shall be returned to the person contributing it and shall not be used or expended by or on behalf of the candidate.
Question: Is a candidate required to use closed-captioning and descriptive narrative in all television broadcasts?
Yes. Effective July 1, 2004 each candidate, political party and political committee is required to use closed-captioning and descriptive narrative in all television broadcasts regulated by the FederalCommunication Commission. (see FS 98.122)
Question: When will "Vote by Mail" ballots be mailed out to voters?
Vote by mail ballots for Military and Overseas citizens will be mailed no later than 45 days in advance of the election.
For domestic voters, the initial batch of vote by mail ballots will be mailed out between the 40th and 33rd days prior to an election those voters who have already requested them. Subsequent mailings will be mailed out on a daily basis as new requests are received.