SHANTEL KREBS

Campaign Finance FAQs

Campaign Finance FAQs (PDF)

County Political Party Campaign Finance FAQs (PDF)

NOTE: Local governments are not required to follow Campaign Finance laws except those listed under SDCL 12-27-39: Application of campaign finance requirements. The provisions of this chapter apply to each Statewide office, legislative office, Statewide ballot question, county offices and ballot questions in counties with population greater than five thousand according to the most recent Federal census, ballot questions in first class municipalities, and school district offices and ballot questions in school districts with more than two thousand average daily membership. Any municipal or school district election covered by this chapter shall conform to the contribution limits applicable to legislative offices. This chapter does not apply to the unified judicial system, nor does this chapter apply to any township or special purpose district offices or ballot questions or elections for municipal offices. However, the governing body of any county, township, municipality, school district, or special purpose district not otherwise covered by this chapter may adopt an ordinance or resolution to make the provisions of this chapter, with or without amendments, applicable to township, school district, or special purpose district elections.

Financial Records to Be Maintained - SDCL 12-27-29

Candidates and committees must keep accurate records of all receipts and expenditures. While a separate campaign bank account for a candidate is not required, it does simplify record keeping.

The responsibility for filing campaign finance disclosure statements is squarely on the shoulders of the treasurer of any political committee or political party. This guide will help you understand the responsibility each political committee holds in complying with the law. If you are the treasurer of a political party or political committee you are strongly urged to become familiar with your duties and the filing deadlines. There are administrative, civil and criminal penalties for violations of campaign finance statutes. The committee treasurer will be assessed a $50 per day administrative penalty for each day a report is delinquent. Treasures for county political parties will be assessed a $10 per day administrative penalty for each day a report is delinquent. There are also civil penalties in the amount of $50 per day for treasurers who fail to timely file statements for county, municipal or school district elections.

Treasurer Duties (SDCL 12-27-29)

All responsibility for campaign financial records rests with the TREASURER of the political committee or political party who is required by law to maintain and preserve detailed and accurate records of the following:

  • Each contribution and in-kind contribution received by the political committee or political party;
  • In the case of a ballot question committee, the information required for any contribution from an organization as described in SDCL 12-27-19;
  • Each loan received or made by the political committee or political party;
  • Each refund, rebate, interest, or other income received by the political committee or political party;
  • All receipts, invoices, bills, canceled checks, or other proofs of payment, with an explanation of each, for each expenditure;
  • The name and address of any financial institution where an account or depository for the political committee or political party is maintained including the account number.

The treasurer is required to maintain and preserve the records for a period of seven years or three years past the date of filing the termination statement for the election for which the contribution or expenditure was made, whichever is earlier. Any violation of these duties is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Who files and who do you file with?

The following FILE with the Secretary of State's office:

  • Statewide Political Action Committees (PACs)
  • Statewide Political Parties
  • County Political Parties
  • Auxiliary Political Parties
  • Statewide Ballot Question Committees
  • Legislative Committees
  • Statewide Candidate Committees

The following DO NOT FILE with the Secretary of State's office (file in the office where the nominating petition or ballot question petition was filed):

  • County
    • Candidates, Ballot Question Committees and Political Action Committees
  • Municipal
    • Candidates, Ballot Question Committees and Political Action Committees
  • School
    • Board Candidates, Ballot Question Committees and Political Action Committees

Note: Local governments are not required to follow Campaign Finance laws except those listed under SDCL 12-27-39

Political Committee Registration (SDCL 12-27-2 thru 12-27-6)

  • Every political committee must be registered not later than fifteen days after the date upon which the committee made contributions, received contributions, or paid expenses in excess of five hundred dollars unless such activity falls within thirty days of any statewide election in which case the statement of organization shall be filed within forty-eight hours. (See statement of organization under paper forms)
  • Any candidate for public office shall organize a candidate campaign committee not later than fifteen days after becoming a candidate and shall file a statement of organization. (Except for exceptions above)
  • The candidate or treasurer of a political committee shall file an updated statement of organization not later than fifteen days after any change in the information contained on the most recently filed statement of organization.

Campaign Finance Reporting System (CFRS)

The Secretary of State’s Office has developed a new Campaign Finance Reporting System that allows committees to file reports online. Through this user friendly system, committees may access there reports, make changes to their committee information and view other submitted reports. Anyone may use the system to search reports filed by the Secretary of State’s office.

The Campaign Finance Reporting System may be accessed at https://sdcfr.sdsos.gov

The Campaign Finance Reporting Manual may be accessed at https://sdcfr.sdsos.gov/Papers/CFRSManualJan.2016.pdf

What Needs To Be Reported? SDCL 12-27-24

  • Aggregate contributions received from individuals of $100.01 or more in a calendar year shall be itemized and include name, residence address and amount of contribution.
  • Contributions received from individuals of $100.00 or less must be reported but need not be itemized.
  • All contributions of any amount from Federal, out-of-State or South Dakota political action committees (PAC's) must be itemized.
  • All contributions of any amount from Political Party committees must be itemized.
  • Expenditures may be categorized by expense type.
  • All contributions from a committee to another candidate or committee must be itemized.
  • Outstanding debts, obligations and unpaid bills at the end of the reporting period must be itemized.
  • Organization costs for establishing and administering a political action committee.
  • Loans and Loan repayments.

What is an organization?

SDCL 12-27-1 (16) "Organization," any business corporation, limited liability company, nonprofit corporation, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, partnership, cooperative, trust except a trust account representing or containing only a contributor's personal funds, business trust, association, club, labor union, collective bargaining organization, local, state, or national organization to which a labor organization pays membership or per capita fees, based upon its affiliation and membership, trade or professional association that receives its funds from membership dues or service fees, whether organized inside or outside the state, any entity organized in a corporate form under federal law or the laws of this state, or any group of persons acting in concert which is not defined as a political committee or political party in this chapter;

Any organization may:

  • Make a maximum contribution of $10,000 in a calendar year to a political action committee (SDCL 12-27-9).
  • NOT make a contribution to a candidate campaign committee or political party.
  • Create a political action committee or ballot question committee.
  • Make unlimited contributions to ballot question committees. Before contributing more than $10,000 in the aggregate in a calendar year, a sworn written statement has to be filed with the Ballot Question Committee (SDCL 12-27-19). (See paper forms - Ballot Question Contribution Statement)
  • Make an advocating communication which is an independent expenditure for/against candidates, public office holders, ballot questions, or political parties. If the total cost for the communication is $100 or more the organization must file an advocating communication Statement within 48 hours (SDCL 12-27-16). (paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Make a non-advocating communication. If the communication is $100 or more, the organization must file a communication Statement within 48 hours. (See paper forms - Expenditures for Communications Not Expressly Advocating)

Any person may:

  • Make contributions to any candidate, political action committee, ballot question committee or political party.

The following limits apply during any calendar year:

  • County candidate $1,000
  • Legislative candidate: $1,000
  • Statewide candidate: $4,000
  • Political Action Committee: $10,000
  • Political Party $10,000
  • Ballot Question Committee: No limit
  • There is no limit to the amount any candidate or the candidate's immediate family may contribute to that candidate campaign committee.
  • Make an independent expenditure for/against a candidate, public officer holder, ballot question, or political party. If the total cost for the independent expenditure is $100 or more the person must file an expenditure form within 48 hours. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditure)

Note: If a person raises, collects or disburses contributions to influence the outcome of an election and is not simply making a contribution to a political committee or political party, that person is considered a political action committee and is required to register, within 15 days of receiving or expending $500, with the election official you are required to file with and must follow the campaign finance disclosure reporting requirements.

Any political action committee may:

  • Make unlimited contributions to any candidate, political committee, or political party.
  • Make independent expenditures and electioneering communications. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Accept contributions from individuals, candidates, organizations, PACs, and political parties.

Any political party may:

  • Make unlimited contributions to any candidate, political committee or political party.
  • Make independent expenditures and electioneering communications. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Accept contributions from individuals, candidates, PACs, and political parties.

Any candidate campaign committee may:

  • Make unlimited contributions to any candidate, political committee or political party.
  • Make independent expenditures and electioneering communications. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Accept contributions from individuals, candidates, PACs, and political parties.
  • NOT accept contributions from an organization.

Any ballot question committee may:

  • Make independent expenditures and electioneering communications. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Accept contributions from individuals, candidates, organizations, PACs, and political parties.
  • Not make contributions to PACs, political parties, or candidates.

Disclaimer: All candidates, political committees and political parties must

display or clearly speak the statement: "Paid for by (Name of candidate, political committee or political party)"on any printed material or communication. This disclaimer is not required on buttons, balloons, pins, pens, matchbooks, clothing, or similar small items upon which the inclusion of the statement would be impracticable (SDCL 12-27-15).

Financial Disclosure Statements (SDCL 12-27-22 thru 12-27-28)

The campaign financial disclosure statement is the most visible part of the disclosure process. This is the document that contains the information most utilized by the public. The disclosure statement provides the public with information on contributions received and expenditures made by the political committee or political party during the calendar year up to the cutoff date of the reporting period. (See paper forms - Campaign Finance Disclosure Statement)

Independent Expenditures Statement (SDCL 12-27-16)

  • Who files this statement: SDCL 12-27-16 states that any PERSON or ORGANIZATION that makes a payment or promise of payment totaling $100.00 or more, including an in-kind contribution, for a communication which expressly advocates for or against a candidate, public office holder, ballot question, or political party. SDCL 12-27-16 (6a-d) outlines what types of communications do not need to be reported on this form. (See paper forms - Independent Expenditures)
  • Deadline to file: Within 48 hours of the time that the communication is disseminated, broadcast, or otherwise published.

Expenditures for Communications NOT Expressly Advocating Statement (SDCL 12-27-17)

  • Who files this statement: SDCL 12-27-17 states that any POLITICAL COMMITTEE, ORGANIZATION, PERSON or POLITICAL PARTY that makes a payment or promise of payment totaling $100.00 or more, including an in-kind contribution, for a communication clearly identifies a candidate or public officer holder but does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of the candidate or public office holder. SDCL 12-27-17 (1-5) outlines what types of communications do not need to be reported on this form. (See paper forms - Expenditures for Communications Not Expressly Advocating)
  • Deadline to file: Within 48 hours of the time that the communication is disseminated, broadcast, or otherwise published.

A Supplemental Statement must be filed if any candidate campaign committee for Statewide office, political action committee, ballot question committee, or political party receives a contribution of five hundred dollars or more within fourteen days immediately prior to an election. The Statement shall be filed within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the contribution. (See paper forms - Supplemental Statement)

Contributions that Exceed Limitation

If a contribution is received that exceeds the contribution limit (or exceeds the limit in the aggregate when combined with other contributions from the individual during the calendar year) the treasurer must return the contribution to the contributor. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a political committee or political party to accept a contribution from an individual that exceeds the contribution limit.

Anonymous Contributions (SDCL 12-27-24 (14), 12-27-11)

Every contribution must include the name and residence address of the contributor. If this information is not provided, the treasurer may not deposit the contribution. If any contribution, money, or other thing of value is received from an unknown source the treasurer must donate it to a nonprofit charitable organization.

Fictitious Names on Contributions Not Allowed (SDCL 12-27-12)

No person or organization may make a contribution in the name of another person, make a contribution in a fictitious name, make a contribution on behalf of another person, or knowingly permit another to use his or her name to make a contribution.

Contributions Disguised as Gifts Not Allowed (SDCL 12-27-12)

No person may make a contribution disguised as a gift and no candidate may accept a contribution disguised as a gift. This simply means that gifts are contributions and fall under the same limitations. It would be unlawful for someone to give a candidate a "personal" gift while intending the gift to be used as a contribution.

Can Public Funds be used to Influence an Election? (SDCL 12-27-20)

No. The State, an agency of the State, and the governing body of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the State may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the State or such political subdivisions in his or her personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the State, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the State from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.