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florida > The Florida Election Code > Campaign Financing

§ 106.03 Registration of political committees and electioneering communications organizations.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the process by which political committees and electioneering communications organizations register in Florida. All political committees that receive more than $500 in contributions or expend the same amount must file a statement of organization within 10 days after organizing. Electioneering communications organizations have 24 hours after making expenditures for electioneering communications that cost more than $5,000. The statute then provides the details needed for the statement of organization.

Statute

(1)

(a) Each political committee that receives contributions or makes expenditures during a calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding $500 or that seeks the signatures of registered electors in support of an initiative shall file a statement of organization as provided in subsection (3) within 10 days after its organization. If a political committee is organized within 10 days of any election, it shall immediately file the statement of organization required by this section.

(b)
1. Each group shall file a statement of organization as an electioneering communications organization within 24 hours after the date on which it makes expenditures for an electioneering communication in excess of $5,000, if such expenditures are made within the timeframes specified in s. 106.011(8)(a)2. If the group makes expenditures for an electioneering communication in excess of $5,000 before the timeframes specified in s. 106.011(8)(a)2., it shall file the statement of organization within 24 hours after the 30th day before a primary or special primary election, or within 24 hours after the 60th day before any other election, whichever is applicable.
2.
a. In a statewide, legislative, or multicounty election, an electioneering communications organization shall file a statement of organization with the Division of Elections.
b. In a countywide election or any election held on less than a countywide basis, except as described in sub-subparagraph c., an electioneering communications organization shall file a statement of organization with the supervisor of elections of the county in which the election is being held.
c. In a municipal election, an electioneering communications organization shall file a statement of organization with the officer before whom municipal candidates qualify.
d. Any electioneering communications organization that would be required to file a statement of organization in two or more locations need only file a statement of organization with the Division of Elections.

(2) The statement of organization shall include:

(a) The name, mailing address, and street address of the committee or electioneering communications organization;
(b) The names, street addresses, and relationships of affiliated or connected organizations, including any affiliated sponsors;
(c) The area, scope, or jurisdiction of the committee or electioneering communications organization;
(d) The name, mailing address, street address, and position of the custodian of books and accounts;
(e) The name, mailing address, street address, and position of other principal officers, including the treasurer and deputy treasurer, if any;

(f) The name, address, office sought, and party affiliation of:

1. Each candidate whom the committee is supporting;
2. Any other individual, if any, whom the committee is supporting for nomination for election, or election, to any public office whatever;
(g) Any issue or issues the committee is supporting or opposing;
(h) If the committee is supporting the entire ticket of any party, a statement to that effect and the name of the party;
(i) A statement of whether the committee is a continuing one;
(j) Plans for the disposition of residual funds which will be made in the event of dissolution;
(k) A listing of all banks, safe-deposit boxes, or other depositories used for committee or electioneering communications organization funds;
(l) A statement of the reports required to be filed by the committee or the electioneering communications organization with federal officials, if any, and the names, addresses, and positions of such officials; and
(m) A statement of whether the electioneering communications organization was formed as a newly created organization during the current calendar quarter or was formed from an organization existing prior to the current calendar quarter. For purposes of this subsection, calendar quarters end the last day of March, June, September, and December.
(3)
(a) A political committee which is organized to support or oppose statewide, legislative, or multicounty candidates or issues to be voted upon on a statewide or multicounty basis shall file a statement of organization with the Division of Elections.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c), a political committee which is organized to support or oppose candidates or issues to be voted on in a countywide election or candidates or issues in any election held on less than a countywide basis shall file a statement of organization with the supervisor of elections of the county in which such election is being held.
(c) A political committee which is organized to support or oppose only candidates for municipal office or issues to be voted on in a municipal election shall file a statement of organization with the officer before whom municipal candidates qualify.
(d) Any political committee which would be required under this subsection to file a statement of organization in two or more locations need file only with the Division of Elections.
(4) Any change in information previously submitted in a statement of organization shall be reported to the agency or officer with whom such committee or electioneering communications organization is required to register within 10 days following the change.
(5) Any committee which, after having filed one or more statements of organization, disbands or determines it will no longer receive contributions or make expenditures during the calendar year in an aggregate amount exceeding $500 shall so notify the agency or officer with whom such committee is required to file the statement of organization.
(6) If the filing officer finds that a political committee has filed its statement of organization consistent with the requirements of subsection (2), it shall notify the committee in writing that it has been registered as a political committee. If the filing officer finds that a political committee’s statement of organization does not meet the requirements of subsection (2), it shall notify the committee of such finding and shall state in writing the reasons for rejection of the statement of organization.

(7) The Division of Elections shall adopt rules to prescribe the manner in which committees and electioneering communications organizations may be dissolved and have their registration canceled. Such rules shall, at a minimum, provide for:

(a) Notice which shall contain the facts and conduct which warrant the intended action, including but not limited to failure to file reports and limited activity.
(b) Adequate opportunity to respond.
(c) Appeal of the decision to the Florida Elections Commission. Such appeals shall be exempt from the confidentiality provisions of s. 106.25.

History:

s. 3, ch. 73-128; s. 3, ch. 74-200; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 41, ch. 77-175; s. 18, ch. 79-365; s. 25, ch. 81-304; s. 1, ch. 82-143; s. 36, ch. 84-302; s. 5, ch. 89-256; s. 27, ch. 90-315; s. 3, ch. 2006-300; s. 21, ch. 2010-167; ss. 8, 30, ch. 2011-6; s. 57, ch. 2011-40; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 7, ch. 2013-37.

Definition [Supervisor]

The supervisor of elections.

Definition [Expenditure]

(a) A purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication. However, “expenditure” does not include a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election when made by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate qualifies or an issue is placed on the ballot for that election, for the purpose of printing or distributing such organization’s newsletter, containing a statement by such organization in support of or opposition to a candidate or issue, which newsletter is distributed only to members of such organization.

(b) As used in chapter 106, an “expenditure” for an electioneering communication is made when the earliest of the following occurs:

1. A person enters into a contract for applicable goods or services;

2. A person makes payment, in whole or in part, for the production or public dissemination of applicable goods or services; or

3. The electioneering communication is publicly disseminated.

Definition [Contribution]

(a) A gift, subscription, conveyance, deposit, loan, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value, including contributions in kind having an attributable monetary value in any form, made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication.

(b) A transfer of funds between political committees, between electioneering communications organizations, or between any combination of these groups.

(c) The payment, by a person other than a candidate or political committee, of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a candidate or political committee without charge to the candidate or committee for such services.

(d) The transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, and the term includes interest earned on such account or certificate.

Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the term may not be construed to include services, including, but not limited to, legal and accounting services, provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee or editorial endorsements.

Definition [Public Office]

Any federal, state, county, municipal, school, or other district office or position which is filled by vote of the electors.

Definition [Public Office]

A state, county, municipal, or school or other district office or position that is filled by vote of the electors.

Definition [Filing Officer]

The person before whom a candidate qualifies or the agency or officer with whom a political committee or an electioneering communications organization registers.

Definition [Primary Election]

An election held preceding the general election for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted for in the general election to fill a national, state, county, or district office.

Definition [Political Committee]

1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:

a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;

c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or

d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;

2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:

1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.

2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.

3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9).

 

Definition [Special Primary Election]

A special nomination election designated by the Governor, called for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted on in a general or special election.

Definition [Electioneering Communication]

Communication that is publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, or telephone and that:

1. Refers to or depicts a clearly identified candidate for office without expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate but that is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate;

2. Is made within 30 days before a primary or special primary election or 60 days before any other election for the office sought by the candidate; and

3. Is targeted to the relevant electorate in the geographic area the candidate would represent if elected.

The term “electioneering communication” does not include:

1. A communication disseminated through a means of communication other than a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, telephone, or statement or depiction by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate named or depicted qualifies for that election, made in that organization’s newsletter, which newsletter is distributed only to members of that organization.

2. A communication in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of a radio station, television station, cable television system, or satellite system, unless the facilities are owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate. A news story distributed through the facilities owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate may nevertheless be exempt if it represents a bona fide news account communicated through a licensed broadcasting facility and the communication is part of a general pattern of campaign-related news accounts that give reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates in the area.

3. A communication that constitutes a public debate or forum that includes at least two opposing candidates for an office or one advocate and one opponent of an issue, or that solely promotes such a debate or forum and is made by or on behalf of the person sponsoring the debate or forum, provided that:

a. The staging organization is either:

(I) A charitable organization that does not make other electioneering communications and does not otherwise support or oppose any political candidate or political party; or

(II) A newspaper, radio station, television station, or other recognized news medium; and

b. The staging organization does not structure the debate to promote or advance one candidate or issue position over another.

(c) For purposes of chapter 106, an expenditure made for, or in furtherance of, an electioneering communication is not considered a contribution to or on behalf of any candidate.

(d) For purposes of this chapter, an electioneering communication does not constitute an independent expenditure and is not subject to the limitations applicable to independent expenditures.

Definition [Electioneering Communications Organization]

Any group, other than a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee, whose election-related activities are limited to making expenditures for electioneering communications or accepting contributions for the purpose of making electioneering communications and whose activities would not otherwise require the group to register as a political party or political committee under this chapter.

Definition [Issue]

A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election.

Definition [Elector]

“Elector” is synonymous with the word “voter” or “qualified elector or voter,” except where the word is used to describe presidential electors.

Definition [Division]

The Division of Elections of the Department of State.

Definition [Election]

Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election.

Definition [Candidate]

Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:

(a) Any person who seeks to qualify for nomination or election by means of the petitioning process.
(b) Any person who seeks to qualify for election as a write-in candidate.
(c) Any person who receives contributions or makes expenditures, or gives his or her consent for any other person to receive contributions or make expenditures, with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to, or retention in, public office.
(d) Any person who appoints a treasurer and designates a primary depository.
(e) Any person who files qualification papers and subscribes to a candidate’s oath as required by law.
This definition does not include any candidate for a political party executive committee.

Cases

florida Cases

Case Name: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC

Citation: 29 So.3d 1053

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/ad43c65c3746d76b166d523a4c8ba372?query=29%20So[...]

Case Summary: Browning v. Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC held that the statute establishing petition signature revocation procedures violated the citizen initiative provision of the state constitution and as such were unconstitutional, since it was neither neutral nor nondiscriminatory, nor was it necessary to ensure ballot integrity. The case further held that the state supreme court had mandatory appellate jurisdiction because the district court of appeal implemented regulations that impacted the citizen initiative process.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. Roberts

Citation: 753 F.Supp.2d 1217

Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/1e1c9d01edd7bb618eff2a4b2eac6410

Case Summary: National Organization for Marriage, Inc. v. Roberts held that Florida's "appeal to vote" statutory test was not void for vagueness even if it might be difficult in some circumstances to determine whether an ad was only susceptible to determination that it was an appeal to vote for or against a certain candidate.

Case Name: Worley v. Roberts

Citation: 749 F.Supp.2d 1321

Federal District Court: Northern District of Florida

Year: 2010

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/8a6c3e3118b40e53063632ad85d1409d

Case Summary: Worley v. Roberts held that a preliminary injunction was not warranted as to disclosure of contributors, but that a preliminary injunction was warranted as to barring enforcement of limitations on spending contributions received in the final 5 days before an election.

Case Name: Let’s Help Florida v. McCrary

Citation: 621 F.2d 195

Federal Circuit Court: 5th Circuit Court

Year: 1980

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/b861df45a936966dae5928059adf5f43

Case Summary: Let's Help Florida v. McCrary held that statutory restrictions on the size of contributions to political committees in a referendum elections are unconstitutional because they abridged contributors' right to freedom of association under the 1st Amendment and the state had no compelling interest in abridging that right.

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 100, Political committees

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 110, Reports by campaign treasurer

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 234, Constitutional amendments

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 235, Constitutional amendments-Procedure for placement on ballot

  • Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:71, Overview

  • Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:102, Registration-in-state PACs

  • Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:103, Registration-Out-of-state PACs

  • 0020 SurveyCheck 4; Establishing and Registering a Political Action Committee (PAC)