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florida > The Florida Election Code > Campaign Financing

§ 106.141 Disposition of surplus funds by candidates.

Overview of Statute

This statute governs the process by which candidates who have ended their campaigns, end up running unopposed, are eliminated, or are elected to office handle surplus funds in their campaign treasuries. These candidates have 90 days after their candidacy status changes to either dispose of the funds or file a report on the disposition of all remaining funds. The statute then establishes how candidates may dispose of such funds.

Statute

(1) Except as provided in subsection (6), each candidate who withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes an unopposed candidate, or is eliminated as a candidate or elected to office shall, within 90 days, dispose of the funds on deposit in his or her campaign account and file a report reflecting the disposition of all remaining funds. Such candidate may not accept any contributions, nor may any person accept contributions on behalf of such candidate, after the candidate withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes unopposed, or is eliminated or elected. However, if a candidate receives a refund check after all surplus funds have been disposed of, the check may be endorsed by the candidate and the refund disposed of under this section. An amended report must be filed showing the refund and subsequent disposition.

(2) Any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section may, before such disposition, be reimbursed by the campaign, in full or in part, for any reported contributions by the candidate to the campaign.
(3) The campaign treasurer of a candidate who withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes unopposed, or is eliminated as a candidate or elected to office and who has funds on deposit in a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit shall, within 7 days after the date of becoming unopposed or the date of such withdrawal, elimination, or election, transfer such funds and the accumulated interest earned thereon to the campaign account of the candidate for disposal under this section. However, if the funds are in an account in which penalties will apply for withdrawal within the 7-day period, the campaign treasurer shall transfer such funds and the accumulated interest earned thereon as soon as the funds can be withdrawn without penalty, or within 90 days after the candidate becomes unopposed, withdraws his or her candidacy, or is eliminated or elected, whichever comes first.

(4)

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section shall, at the option of the candidate, dispose of such funds by any of the following means, or any combination thereof:

1. Return pro rata to each contributor the funds that have not been spent or obligated.
2. Donate the funds that have not been spent or obligated to a charitable organization or organizations that meet the qualifications of s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
3. Give not more than $25,000 of the funds that have not been spent or obligated to the affiliated party committee or political party of which such candidate is a member.

4. Give the funds that have not been spent or obligated:

a. In the case of a candidate for state office, to the state, to be deposited in either the 1Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund or the General Revenue Fund, as designated by the candidate; or
b. In the case of a candidate for an office of a political subdivision, to such political subdivision, to be deposited in the general fund thereof.
(b) Any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section who has received contributions pursuant to the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act shall, after all monetary commitments pursuant to s. 106.11(5)(b) and (c) have been met, return all surplus campaign funds to the General Revenue Fund.

(5) A candidate elected to office or a candidate who will be elected to office by virtue of his or her being unopposed may, in addition to the disposition methods provided in subsection (4), transfer from the campaign account to an office account any amount of the funds on deposit in such campaign account up to:

(a) Fifty thousand dollars, for a candidate for statewide office. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be considered separate candidates for the purpose of this section.
(b) Ten thousand dollars, for a candidate for multicounty office.
(c) Ten thousand dollars multiplied by the number of years in the term of office for which elected, for a candidate for legislative office.
(d) Five thousand dollars multiplied by the number of years in the term of office for which elected, for a candidate for county office or for a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis.
(e) Six thousand dollars, for a candidate for retention as a justice of the Supreme Court.
(f) Three thousand dollars, for a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal.
(g) Three thousand dollars, for a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge.

The office account established pursuant to this subsection shall be separate from any personal or other account. Any funds so transferred by a candidate shall be used only for legitimate expenses in connection with the candidate’s public office. Such expenses may include travel expenses incurred by the officer or a staff member; personal taxes payable on office account funds by the candidate or elected public official; professional services provided by a certified public accountant or attorney for preparation of the elected public official’s financial disclosure filing pursuant to s. 112.3144 or s.112.3145; costs to prepare, print, produce, and mail holiday cards or newsletters about the elected public official’s public business to constituents if such correspondence does not constitute a political advertisement, independent expenditure, or electioneering communication as provided in s. 106.011; fees or dues to religious, civic, or charitable organizations of which the elected public official is a member; items of modest value such as flowers, greeting cards, or personal notes given as a substitute for, or in association with, an elected public official’s personal attendance at a constituent’s special event or family occasion, such as the birth of a child, graduation, wedding, or funeral; personal expenses incurred by the elected public official in connection with attending a constituent meeting or event where public policy is discussed, if such meetings or events are limited to no more than once a week; or expenses incurred in the operation of the elected public official’s office, including the employment of additional staff. The funds may be deposited in a savings account; however, all deposits, withdrawals, and interest earned thereon shall be reported at the appropriate reporting period. If a candidate is reelected to office or elected to another office and has funds remaining in his or her office account, he or she may transfer surplus campaign funds to the office account. At no time may the funds in the office account exceed the limitation imposed by this subsection. Upon leaving public office, any person who has funds in an office account pursuant to this subsection remaining on deposit shall use such funds to pay for professional services provided by a certified public accountant or attorney for preparation of the elected public official’s final financial disclosure filing pursuant to s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145, or give such funds to a charitable organization that meets the requirements of s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or, in the case of a state officer, to the state to be deposited in the General Revenue Fund or, in the case of an officer of a political subdivision, to the political subdivision to be deposited in the general fund thereof.

(6)
(a) For purposes of this subsection, the term “same office” with respect to legislative office means an office in the same legislative body, irrespective of district number or designation or geographic boundary.
(b) A candidate elected to state office or a candidate who will be elected to state office by virtue of his or her being unopposed after candidate qualifying ends, may retain up to $20,000 in his or her campaign account, or in an interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, for use in his or her next campaign for the same office, in addition to the disposition methods provided in subsections (4) and (5). All requirements applicable to candidate campaign accounts under this chapter, including disclosure requirements applicable to candidate campaign accounts, limitations on expenditures, and limitations on contributions, apply to any retained funds.
(c) If a candidate who has retained funds under this subsection does not qualify as a candidate for reelection to the same office, all retained funds shall be disposed of as otherwise required by this section or s. 106.11(5) within 90 days after the last day of candidate qualifying for that office. Requirements in this section applicable to the disposal of surplus funds, including reporting requirements, are applicable to the disposal of retained funds.
(7) Before disposing of funds pursuant to subsection (4), transferring funds into an office account pursuant to subsection (5), or retaining funds for reelection pursuant to subsection (6), any candidate who filed an oath stating that he or she was unable to pay the fee for verification of petition signatures without imposing an undue burden on his or her personal resources or on resources otherwise available to him or her shall reimburse the state or local governmental entity, whichever is applicable, for such waived fee. If there are insufficient funds in the account to pay the full amount of the fee, the remaining funds shall be disbursed in the above manner until no funds remain. All funds disbursed pursuant to this subsection shall be remitted to the qualifying officer. Any reimbursement for petition verification costs which are reimbursable by the state shall be forwarded by the qualifying officer to the state for deposit in the General Revenue Fund.

(8)

(a) Any candidate required to dispose of campaign funds pursuant to this section shall do so within the time required by this section and, on or before the date by which such disposition is to have been made, shall file with the officer with whom reports are required to be filed pursuant to s.106.07 a form prescribed by the Division of Elections listing:

1. The name and address of each person or unit of government to whom any of the funds were distributed and the amounts thereof;
2. The name and address of each person to whom an expenditure was made, together with the amount thereof and purpose therefor;
3. The amount of such funds transferred to an office account by the candidate, together with the name and address of the bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which the office account is located; and
4. The amount of such funds retained pursuant to subsection (6), together with the name and address of the bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which the retained funds are located.

Such report shall be signed by the candidate and the campaign treasurer and certified as true and correct pursuant to s. 106.07.

(b) The filing officer shall notify each candidate at least 14 days before the date the report is due.
(c) Any candidate failing to file a report on the designated due date shall be subject to a fine as provided in s. 106.07 for submitting late termination reports.
(9) Any candidate elected to office who transfers surplus campaign funds into an office account pursuant to subsection (5) shall file a report on the 10th day following the end of each calendar quarter until the account is closed. Such reports shall contain the name and address of each person to whom any disbursement of funds was made, together with the amount thereof and the purpose therefor, and the name and address of any person from whom the elected candidate received any refund or reimbursement and the amount thereof. Such reports shall be on forms prescribed by the Division of Elections, signed by the elected candidate, certified as true and correct, and filed with the officer with whom campaign reports were filed pursuant to s. 106.07(2).
(10) Any candidate, or any person on behalf of a candidate, who accepts contributions after such candidate has withdrawn his or her candidacy, after the candidate has become an unopposed candidate, or after the candidate has been eliminated as a candidate or elected to office commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(11) Any candidate who is required by the provisions of this section to dispose of funds in his or her campaign account and who fails to dispose of the funds in the manner provided in this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History:

s. 50, ch. 77-175; s. 6, ch. 79-378; s. 60, ch. 79-400; s. 2, ch. 80-292; s. 54, ch. 81-259; s. 28, ch. 81-304; s. 1, ch. 82-404; s. 38, ch. 84-302; s. 10, ch. 85-226; s. 2, ch. 86-7; s. 2, ch. 86-276; s. 11, ch. 87-363; s. 15, ch. 89-256; s. 34, ch. 90-315; s. 15, ch. 91-107; s. 645, ch. 95-147; ss. 15, 16, 53, ch. 97-13; s. 6, ch. 2002-197; s. 20, ch. 2004-252; s. 70, ch. 2005-277; ss. 16, 30, ch. 2011-6; s. 65, ch. 2011-40; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 15, ch. 2013-37.

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 [Campaign Treasurer]

An individual appointed by a candidate or political committee as provided in chapter 106.

Definition [Unopposed Candidate]

A candidate for nomination or election to an office who, after the last day on which a person, including a write-in candidate, may qualify, is without opposition in the election at which the office is to be filled or who is without such opposition after such date as a result of a primary election or of withdrawal by other candidates seeking the same office. A candidate is not an unopposed candidate if there is a vacancy to be filled under s. 100.111(3), if there is a legal proceeding pending regarding the right to a ballot position for the office sought by the candidate, or if the candidate is seeking retention as a justice or judge.

Definition [Independent Expenditure]

(a) An expenditure by a person for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the approval or rejection of an issue, which expenditure is not controlled by, coordinated with, or made upon consultation with, any candidate, political committee, or agent of such candidate or committee. An expenditure for such purpose by a person having a contract with the candidate, political committee, or agent of such candidate or committee in a given election period is not an independent expenditure.

(b) An expenditure for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate which is made by the national, state, or county executive committee of a political party, including any subordinate committee of the political party, an affiliated party committee, a political committee, or any other person is not considered an independent expenditure if the committee or person:

1. Communicates with the candidate, the candidate’s campaign, or an agent of the candidate acting on behalf of the candidate, including a pollster, media consultant, advertising agency, vendor, advisor, or staff member, concerning the preparation of, use of, or payment for, the specific expenditure or advertising campaign at issue;

2. Makes a payment in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, at the request or suggestion of, or pursuant to a general or particular understanding with the candidate, the candidate’s campaign, a political committee supporting the candidate, or an agent of the candidate relating to the specific expenditure or advertising campaign at issue;

3. Makes a payment for the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of a broadcast or a written, graphic, or other form of campaign material prepared by the candidate, the candidate’s campaign, or an agent of the candidate, including a pollster, media consultant, advertising agency, vendor, advisor, or staff member;

4. Makes a payment based on information about the candidate’s plans, projects, or needs communicated to a member of the committee or person by the candidate or an agent of the candidate, provided the committee or person uses the information in any way, in whole or in part, either directly or indirectly, to design, prepare, or pay for the specific expenditure or advertising campaign at issue;

5. After the last day of the qualifying period prescribed for the candidate, consults about the candidate’s plans, projects, or needs in connection with the candidate’s pursuit of election to office and the information is used in any way to plan, create, design, or prepare an independent expenditure or advertising campaign, with:

a. An officer, director, employee, or agent of a national, state, or county executive committee of a political party or an affiliated party committee that has made or intends to make expenditures in connection with or contributions to the candidate; or

b. A person whose professional services have been retained by a national, state, or county executive committee of a political party or an affiliated party committee that has made or intends to make expenditures in connection with or contributions to the candidate;

6. After the last day of the qualifying period prescribed for the candidate, retains the professional services of a person also providing those services to the candidate in connection with the candidate’s pursuit of election to office; or

7. Arranges, coordinates, or directs the expenditure, in any way, with the candidate or an agent of the candidate.

Definition [Political Advertisement]

A paid expression in a communications medium prescribed in subsection (4), whether radio, television, newspaper, magazine, periodical, campaign literature, direct mail, or display or by means other than the spoken word in direct conversation, which expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate or the approval or rejection of an issue. However, political advertisement does not include:

(a) A statement by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate qualifies or an issue is placed on the ballot for that election, in support of or opposition to a candidate or issue, in that organization’s newsletter, which newsletter is distributed only to the members of that organization.

(b) Editorial endorsements by a newspaper, a radio or television station, or any other recognized news medium.

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 [Person]

An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee.

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: Smith v. Crawford (campaign finance)

Citation: 645 So.2d 513

Year: 1994

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/2648dd00396b3b7d0dde069c6a0bfbd7

Case Summary: Smith v. Crawford held that defendant was still qualified to receive public financing in his campaign for commissioner of agriculture, even though he had received public financing in his race for governor and had spent more than $2,000,000 in that race, because the contributions received and expenditures made in the gubernatorial race should not be treated as though they had been made in the race for commissioner of agriculture.

Case Name: Ferre v. State ex rel Reno

Citation: 478 So.2d 1077

Year: 1985

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/a05e863903d2c272aa390e3b43d85088

Case Summary: Ferre v. State ex rel Reno held that Florida statutes prohibiting the acceptance and requiring the return of post-election contributions do not violate the 1st Amendment, and that the provision requiring that a violation of the post-election prohibition leads to a penalty of twice the amount contributed is not an unconstitutionally excessive fine.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Regulations & Guidance

Administrative Decisions

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 104, Contributions

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 106, Disposition of surplus funds

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 107, Generally

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 219, Offenses relating to campaign financing

  • 0050 SURVEYS 1; Candidate Filing Requirements