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Florida > The Florida Election Code > Campaign Financing

§ 106.19 Violations by candidates, persons connected with campaigns, and political committees.

Overview of Statute

This statute outlines the violations that lead to misdemeanors in the first degree. Committing these violations could also subject a candidate, person connected with a campaign, and officers of political committees to civil fines worth three times the amount involved in the illegal act.

Statute

(1) Any candidate; campaign manager, campaign treasurer, or deputy treasurer of any candidate; committee chair, vice chair, campaign treasurer, deputy treasurer, or other officer of any political committee; agent or person acting on behalf of any candidate or political committee; or other person who knowingly and willfully:

(a) Accepts a contribution in excess of the limits prescribed by s. 106.08;
(b) Fails to report any contribution required to be reported by this chapter;
(c) Falsely reports or deliberately fails to include any information required by this chapter; or
(d) Makes or authorizes any expenditure in violation of s. 106.11(4) or any other expenditure prohibited by this chapter;

is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Any candidate, campaign treasurer, or deputy treasurer; any chair, vice chair, or other officer of any political committee; any agent or person acting on behalf of any candidate or political committee; or any other person who violates paragraph (1)(a), paragraph (1)(b), or paragraph (1)(d) shall be subject to a civil penalty equal to three times the amount involved in the illegal act. Such penalty may be in addition to the penalties provided by subsection (1) and shall be paid into the General Revenue Fund of this state.
(3) A political committee sponsoring a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative which submits a petition form gathered by a paid petition circulator which does not provide the name and address of the paid petition circulator on the form is subject to the civil penalties prescribed in s.106.265.
(4) Except as otherwise expressly stated, the failure by a candidate to comply with the requirements of this chapter has no effect upon whether the candidate has qualified for the office the candidate is seeking.

History:

s. 19, ch. 73-128; s. 57, ch. 77-175; s. 62, ch. 79-400; s. 12, ch. 91-107; s. 649, ch. 95-147; ss. 24, 45, ch. 97-13; s. 8, ch. 2002-197; s. 11, ch. 2006-300; s. 69, ch. 2011-40; s. 35, 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. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(10).

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. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(5).

Definition [Campaign Treasurer]

An individual appointed by a candidate or political committee as provided in chapter 106. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(2).

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). Fla. Stat. § 106.11(16).

 

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. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).

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. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(6).

Cases

Florida Cases

Out-of-State Cases

Case State: florida

Case Name: Jennings v. Florida Elections Commission

Citation: 932 So.2d 609

Year: 2006

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/4c8857780f51fc5355f665ae2ab755e3

Case Summary: Jennings v. Florida Elections Commission held that an amendment to s. 106.25, which expressly restricted the Commission's ability to investigate alleged violations to only those found in a sworn complaint, meant that the Commission was unable to proceed with specific complaints under 106.021 after the amendment was added.

Case State: florida

Case Name: In re Renke

Citation: 933 So.2d 482

Year: 2006

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/11816473d52fbda40ff76c0c28048748

Case Summary: In re Renke held that Judge Renke was to be removed from the bench after misrepresenting his endorsements and experiences in campaign flyers and accepting contributions from his father in violation of 106.08 and 106.19.

Case State: florida

Case Name: Diaz de la Portilla v. Florida Elections Commission

Citation: 857 So.2d 913

Year: 2003

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/3b277af35230dd0ab70ba5e41d70ec7a

Case Summary: Diaz de la Portilla v. Florida Elections Commission held that the standard for chapter 106 cases is clear and convincing evidence, not a preponderance of the evidence. Also, candidates are allowed to rely on their campaign treasurers to maintain campaign records and prepare treasurer's reports, as long as all contributions and expenditures are routed through the campaign depository and the treasurer is actually qualified.

Case State: florida

Case Name: Falzone v. State

Citation: 500 So.2d 1337

Year: 1987

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/bddc2e297c5bc9674372d39c3853278e?query=500%20S[...]

Case Summary: Falzone v. State held that Florida's Campaign Finance Law was constitutional, and that the petitioner, a political committee member, committed a misdemeanor in knowingly failing to file a statement of organization as required by the Law.

Case State: florida

Case Name: State v. Greco

Citation: 479 So.2d 786

Year: 1985

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/c126d068a0ae6211cb49b177b88a7b8c

Case Summary: State v. Greco held that the filing statute was constitutional as applied to appellees, who failed to file a statement of organization as a political committee.

Federal Cases

Case Name: McArthur v. Firestone

Citation: 817 F.2d 1548

Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court

Year: 1987

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/dc71b4758a95927656c9a0974438baff

Case Summary: McArthur v. Firestone held that although the most recent election had passed, proceedings against plaintiffs were not moot, since they were possibly subject to both civil and criminal penalties in failing to comply with Florida's campaign disclosure requirements. (This was resolved in McArthur v. Smith.)

Case Name: McArthur v. Smith

Citation: 716 F.Supp. 592

Federal District Court: Southern District of Florida

Year: 1989

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/435f7e9ce9bb5639454a82a2bf23362c

Case Summary: McArthur v. Smith held that Florida's campaign disclosure statutes did not apply to plaintiffs, a Socialist Workers' Party candidate and his supporters, because compelled disclosure would have subjected them to harassment and threats from private parties.

Case Name: Buckley v. Valeo

Citation: 424 U.S. 1

Federal District Court:

Year: 1976

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/eb48c5774e89242d77a0b7c573033957

Case Summary: Buckley v. Valeo held that contribution limits were constitutional, as there was a valid governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption, but that independent expenditure limits were unconstitutional, as the valid governmental interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption was not implicated in a scenario involving a truly independent expenditure.

Regulations & Guidance

Administrative Decisions

Additional Resources

Further Reading

  • Am. Jur. 2d Judges s 19, Grounds

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Constitutional Law s 16, Initiative sponsored by political committee

  • Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 129, Generally

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

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

  • Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:106, Special state issues