Whether you are planning for a campaign as a candidate, as an existing organization or as a group of citizens who want to support or oppose a candidate(s), making good decisions about handling finances is an important first step.
A candidate must file a Pre-candidacy Form (PDF) or file for office before he/she can accept contributions or spend money.
A candidate must organize a committee and appoint a treasurer before doing any campaigning using a committee name.
A group of citizens must file a Statement of Organization (PDF) of a political committee before beginning activity.
The statement of organization of a committee must be filed at least 28 days before an election
Choose a person who is trustworthy, able to manage money, able to understand reporting, available to be involved from day to day, and able to meet deadlines.
The law requires that all contributions and expenditures must go through the treasurer or financial agent, so that person must be involved from beginning to end.
A candidate may serve as his or her own financial agent, but often the demands of a campaign make this unwise.
Choose the committee name carefully, once you have printed materials with the name it is expensive to make a change.
Decide what address the committee & treasurer will use. Information from the Secretary of State will be addressed to the treasurer's address.
Treasurer Designation for Candidate's Committee (PDF)
Political Action Committees and Executive Committees:
Statement of Organization (PDF)
With the Secretary of State for all statewide, legislative, judicial, and multi-county candidates and committees active in those elections.
With the County Clerk for all single county offices.
Never mix campaign funds with personal funds or parent organization funds. It is best to establish a checking account in the name of the committee or campaign. The bank usually requires a Social Security number or business tax number
For candidates - the candidate or treasurer's number is usually used.
For organizations - the parent organization's business tax ID is usually used.
For a candidate's campaign, the candidate contributions should be made to the campaign by check and deposited in the campaign checking account.
For a PAC, the first contributions should be used to set up the account, not other funds from the group.
All volunteers and campaign staff need to understand the rules about campaign finance. Although a volunteer might make a mistake, the treasurer is responsible for correcting it and is the person who would be charged with any violations of the law.
Understand what information you need from contributors for reporting. This will save going back to contributors a second time to request more information.
Brief volunteers about the limits of reimbursements and other rules that will affect them personally.
Review contributions when they arrive and record them promptly.
Invoices must go to the treasurer.
When a company requires payment up front - such as for advertising - find out what the cost will be and get the check from the treasurer. If someone must pay from personal funds and get reimbursement, it is very important to keep the paid invoice with the campaign records.
Review the campaign finance forms and prepare them as contributions are received and expenditures made. This will make reporting much easier.
More detailed rules are explained in Campaign Finance FAQs.
Campaign finance laws have changed many times since the first requirements were established in 1908. A major revision occurred in 1976, about the same time stronger laws were adopted at the federal level. In 2001, 2002 and 2005 the Legislature made numerous changes to campaign finance rules and regulations.
You may find campaign finance laws at the links below:
West Virginia Election Code (PDF)
West Virginia State Legislature's online code archive
Federal Election Commission election law
The table below shows which political contributions are permitted according to West Virginia state law. The table indicates whether or not the contribution is permitted, what the maximum contributions is, whether the contribution is permitted from excess funds, and what the limit is for contributions made from excess funds.
What is an independent expenditure?
An expenditure by a person expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate; and that is not made in concert or cooperation with or at the request of such candidate, his or her agents, the candidate's authorized political committee or a political party committee or its agents.
Supporting or opposing the election of a clearly identified candidate includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a political party. An expenditure which does not meet the criteria for an independent expenditure is considered a contribution.
Independent Expenditure Reporting Schedule
Any communication paid for by an independent expenditure must include a clear and conspicuous public notice that:
Clearly states that the communication is not authorized by the candidate or the candidate's committee; and
Clearly identifies the person making the expenditure: Provided, that if the communication appears on or is disseminated by broadcast, cable or satellite transmission, the statement required by this submission must be both spoken clearly and appear in clearly readable writing at the end of the communication.
All persons supporting, aiding or opposing the nomination, election or defeat of any candidate shall keep for a period of 6 months records of receipts and expenditures which are made for political purposes.
Any person who has spent a total of $5,000 or more for the direct costs of purchasing, producing or disseminating electioneering communications during any calendar year shall maintain all financial records and receipts related to such expenditure for a period of six months following the filing of a disclosure.
If we may be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us: 304.558.6000 toll free 866.767.8683 email: Elections@wvsos.gov