independentspenders

Independent Spenders

An independent spender is a person other than a candidate who makes or incurs expenses in an attempt to influence the outcome of an election.

REQUIREMENTS

Record Keeping

An independent spender must create and maintain records that indicate compliance with the campaign finance laws and must provide those records to the Ethics Commission upon request. Records must be maintained for at least four years.

Disclosure

Independent spenders may have three types of disclosure requirements. Detailed filing requirements are provided under “What Do I File?”. Information disclosed by independent spenders may be accessed through the Public Data Portal.

  • Communications

    An independent spender must file a copy of an independent expenditure communication with the Ethics Commission if one of the following thresholds is met:

    The independent spender makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $1,000 for one or more communications.

    The independent spender makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $100 for one or more communications and distributes the communications to 1,000 or more persons.

    The independent spender is a committee, makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $100 for one or more communications, and distributes the communications to 200 or more persons.

    Information about the independent expenditure communication, the independent spender, and the independent spender’s contributors must be disclosed through CA Form 496 (Independent Expenditure Report), Form 56 (City Independent Expenditure Communication Notification), and Form 57-L (LAUSD Independent Expenditure Communication Notification).

  • Disclaimers

    In each independent expenditure communication that must be disclosed, an independent spender must include a disclaimer, to identify who is making the communication.

    must meet specific font size and color requirements. They must also include specific statements. Independent expenditure communications in City elections must include the following disclaimer statements:

    When communicated by an independent spender who qualifies as a committee:
    Paid for by [committee’s name, address, and city]. Not authorized by or coordinated with a City candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. Major funding provided by [top two contributors of at least $1,000 during the six months prior to payment for the communication] in the amount of [cumulative amount of their contributions]. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.
    When communicated by an independent spender who does not qualify as a committee:
    Distributed by [independent spender’s name, address, and city]. Not authorized by or coordinated with a City candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.

    Independent expenditure communications in LAUSD elections must include the disclaimers statements specified in the state’s Political Advertisement Disclaimer Charts Overview. The Ethics Commission recommends that disclaimers in LAUSD independent expenditure communications also include this statement: “Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.”

  • Financial Activity

    An independent spender qualifies as an independent expenditure committee if the independent spender makes or incurs expenses totaling $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Committees are required to periodically disclose their financial activity, including expenditures, contributions, and specific information about contributors. CA Form 460 (Recipient Committee Campaign Statement Long Form) must be filed at least twice per year (more frequently in an election cycle). Other disclosures may be triggered by specific activity, including CA Form 497 (Late Contribution Report) and CA Form 511 (Paid Spokesperson Report). Committees are also required to notify contributors of $5,000 or more that the contributors may have their own disclosure obligations.

ELECTION TOTALS

WHAT DO I FILE?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • I made a contribution to a candidate. Can I also make an independent expenditure communication to support that candidate?

    Yes, as long as the communication is not coordinated with the candidate or his campaign. If you make an independent expenditure communication, you will be required to file disclosures with the Ethics Commission.

  • I made an independent expenditure communication through a television ad. Do I need to disclose that?

    Yes, you will need to file Form 57 or Form 57-L, depending on whether the communication was made in a City or LAUSD election. You will also need to file a copy of both the video and the script for the ad.

  • I would like to make an independent expenditure communication to support my favorite candidate. Can I contact the candidate’s campaign to ask them what key points I should make in the communication?

    No. An independent expenditure communication cannot be coordinated with the candidate in any way. If you make a communication that is coordinated with the candidate, it is considered an in-kind contribution that is subject to the per-person contribution limits.

  • I made an independent expenditure communication to oppose three candidates. How do I report that?

    The communication must be apportioned among the three candidates, according to how much time or space is devoted in the communication to each candidate. For example, if one candidate is featured on one side of a written communication and the second and third candidates share the other side of the communication, you would report 50 percent for the first candidate and 25 percent for each of the other two candidates.

  • I plan to distribute an independent expenditure communication two weeks before the election. When do I have to report it to the Ethics Commission?

    You must report the communication within 24 hours of making or incurring related expenses.

  • I own a billboard and plan to use it to make an independent expenditure communication. The printing will cost $1,250, but using the billboard will cost me nothing. Do I have to report the communication?

    Yes. You must report the independent expenditure communication because the costs are $1,000 or more. You must report the total cost, which is $1,250 plus the fair market value of using the billboard (the amount you would charge someone else for using the billboard during the same period of time in which you use it). You must also include a disclaimer in the communication and file a copy of it with the Ethics Commission.

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REQUIREMENTS

Record Keeping

An independent spender must create and maintain records that indicate compliance with the campaign finance laws and must provide those records to the Ethics Commission upon request. Records must be maintained for at least four years.

Disclosure

Independent spenders may have three types of disclosure requirements. Detailed filing requirements are provided under “What Do I File?”. Information disclosed by independent spenders may be accessed through the Public Data Portal.

  • Communications

    An independent spender must file a copy of an independent expenditure communication with the Ethics Commission if one of the following thresholds is met:

    The independent spender makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $1,000 for one or more communications.

    The independent spender makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $100 for one or more communications and distributes the communications to 1,000 or more persons.

    The independent spender is a committee, makes or incurs expenses with actual or fair market values totaling at least $100 for one or more communications, and distributes the communications to 200 or more persons.

    Information about the independent expenditure communication, the independent spender, and the independent spender’s contributors must be disclosed through CA Form 496 (Independent Expenditure Report), Form 56 (City Independent Expenditure Communication Notification), and Form 57-L (LAUSD Independent Expenditure Communication Notification).

  • Disclaimers

    In each independent expenditure communication that must be disclosed, an independent spender must include a disclaimer, to identify who is making the communication.

    must meet specific font size and color requirements. They must also include specific statements. Independent expenditure communications in City elections must include the following disclaimer statements:

    When communicated by an independent spender who qualifies as a committee:
    Paid for by [committee’s name, address, and city]. Not authorized by or coordinated with a City candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. Major funding provided by [top two contributors of at least $1,000 during the six months prior to payment for the communication] in the amount of [cumulative amount of their contributions]. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.
    When communicated by an independent spender who does not qualify as a committee:
    Distributed by [independent spender’s name, address, and city]. Not authorized by or coordinated with a City candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.

    Independent expenditure communications in LAUSD elections must include the disclaimers statements specified in the state’s Political Advertisement Disclaimer Charts Overview. The Ethics Commission recommends that disclaimers in LAUSD independent expenditure communications also include this statement: “Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.”

  • Financial Activity

    An independent spender qualifies as an independent expenditure committee if the independent spender makes or incurs expenses totaling $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Committees are required to periodically disclose their financial activity, including expenditures, contributions, and specific information about contributors. CA Form 460 (Recipient Committee Campaign Statement Long Form) must be filed at least twice per year (more frequently in an election cycle). Other disclosures may be triggered by specific activity, including CA Form 497 (Late Contribution Report) and CA Form 511 (Paid Spokesperson Report). Committees are also required to notify contributors of $5,000 or more that the contributors may have their own disclosure obligations.

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WHAT DO I FILE?

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • I made a contribution to a candidate. Can I also make an independent expenditure communication to support that candidate?

    Yes, as long as the communication is not coordinated with the candidate or his campaign. If you make an independent expenditure communication, you will be required to file disclosures with the Ethics Commission.

  • I made an independent expenditure communication through a television ad. Do I need to disclose that?

    Yes, you will need to file Form 57 or Form 57-L, depending on whether the communication was made in a City or LAUSD election. You will also need to file a copy of both the video and the script for the ad.

  • I would like to make an independent expenditure communication to support my favorite candidate. Can I contact the candidate’s campaign to ask them what key points I should make in the communication?

    No. An independent expenditure communication cannot be coordinated with the candidate in any way. If you make a communication that is coordinated with the candidate, it is considered an in-kind contribution that is subject to the per-person contribution limits.

  • I made an independent expenditure communication to oppose three candidates. How do I report that?

    The communication must be apportioned among the three candidates, according to how much time or space is devoted in the communication to each candidate. For example, if one candidate is featured on one side of a written communication and the second and third candidates share the other side of the communication, you would report 50 percent for the first candidate and 25 percent for each of the other two candidates.

  • I plan to distribute an independent expenditure communication two weeks before the election. When do I have to report it to the Ethics Commission?

    You must report the communication within 24 hours of making or incurring related expenses.

  • I own a billboard and plan to use it to make an independent expenditure communication. The printing will cost $1,250, but using the billboard will cost me nothing. Do I have to report the communication?

    Yes. You must report the independent expenditure communication because the costs are $1,000 or more. You must report the total cost, which is $1,250 plus the fair market value of using the billboard (the amount you would charge someone else for using the billboard during the same period of time in which you use it). You must also include a disclaimer in the communication and file a copy of it with the Ethics Commission.

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