Campaign Finance FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

On what dates must candidates or committees file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures and what is the relevant reporting period for each report due?

The reports must be filed by candidates and committees starting up to six (6) months prior to the election.  No City issues are yet scheduled for the November 2018 election and an election calendar has not been established for the April 2019 Municipal General Election. If either of those two items occur, a schedule of reporting deadlines and the associated reporting periods will be posted on this page.

Who must report campaign-related financial information regarding municipal elections?

There are three main types of people or organizations that are required to follow campaign finance law.

  • Candidate or Candidate Committee – A candidate committee is formed by a candidate to assist in their effort to get elected.For the purposes of Campaign Finance reporting, candidates and candidate committees are treated equally and will be referred to as candidates throughout the remainder of this FAQ.
  • Political Committee – A political committee is an organization, separate from the candidates themselves, whose goal is to either assist in getting a person or group of persons elected or to prevent a person or group of persons from getting elected.
  • Issue Committee – An issue committee is an organization whose goal is to either assist in getting an issue on the ballot passed or to prevent an issue on the ballot from getting passed.
    • Small Issue Committee – A Small Issue Committee is a classification of issue committee that has a smaller amount of contributions or expenditures.Their reporting requirements are based on the total contributions or expenditures for an election cycle and those reporting requirements may change mid-cycle if specific requirements are met.

I file campaign reports to the Colorado Secretary of State?  Do I also need to file with the City?

If your issue committee activities are related to a City Question, then Yes.

What is the Report of Contributions and Expenditures?

The Report of Contributions and Expenditures shows how much money a candidate or committee has collected, who has contributed the money and how the campaign funds were spent.  Other information is required, including information about loans to the campaign and information about non-monetary contributions (formerly known as “in kind” contributions), such as the use of an automobile or office space.

At what time must I file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures?

Reporting is based on if a candidate or committee either receives or expends an amount of money that exceeds a specific threshold based on the type of entity.  For example, each candidate must file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures once the candidate receives campaign contributions of more than $20.00 or spends more than $20.00 during the election cycle.

Each political committee must file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures once the committee receives campaign contributions of more than $200.00 or spends more than $200.00 during the election cycle.

Issue committees are divided into two tiers: small scale issue committee and issue committee.  Small scale issue committees must register once the issue committee receives campaign contributions of more than $200.00 or spends more than $200.00 during the election cycle.  The registration form is available on Campaign Finance Forms.  Once an issue committee receives campaign contributions of more than $5,000.00 or spends more than $5,000.00 during the election cycle, it converts from a small scale issue committee to a regular issue committee.  Once converted, it must file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures to include all contributions and expenditures that occurred during the election cycle up to that point.

Once a candidate or committee files their first Report of Contributions and Expenditures, the candidate or committee must continue to file the Report of Contributions and Expenditures on each of the remaining reporting dates for the election cycle even if there are zero contributions or expenditures for those future reporting periods.

What are the filing requirements if I become a candidate for City Council?

Regardless of whether you are an official candidate, you must file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures if you cross the reporting threshold described above.  To become an official candidate listed on the ballot, you must also file Nomination Petition(s), an Affidavit of Independent Candidacy, and a Disclosure of Substantial Private Business Interests.

Will I be required to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures even if I have not filed the Nomination Petition to become a candidate?

Yes, in many cases.

You will be required to begin filing a Report of Contributions and Expenditures once you receive campaign contributions or make campaign expenditures of more than $20.00.  This means you could be required to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures weeks or months before you are permitted to begin collecting signatures on a Nomination Petition. Write-in candidates are also required to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures.

If I file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures, will my name appear on the ballot?

No.  Filing a Report of Contributions and Expenditures does not mean your name will be on the ballot.  You must follow a separate process to get your name on the ballot.

Can the public see the reports and other documents that are filed?

Yes.  All reports and other filings are public records and are available for the public to review and copy.  All filings can be viewed online at campaignfinance.coloradosprings.gov/CampaignFinance.

If my report contains information that I do not want the public to see will the City withhold that information from the public?

No.  The City will not withhold information unless you obtain an order from a court directing the City to withhold certain information.

A filing deadline is in two days (or just happened yesterday), am I required to report yet?

In most cases, a candidate or committee is not required to file its first Report of Contributions and Expenditures on any reporting deadline that falls less than 20 days after the candidate or committee was formed or met their filing threshold.

However, if the filing threshold is met less than 30 days before the election, the candidate or committee must file its first Report of Contributions and Expenditures within 24 hours of the date it met the filing threshold.

If a reporting deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or City holiday, is the report due on the next business day?

Yes.

If a reporting deadline is moved to the next business day because the reporting deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or City holiday, is the beginning date or ending date of a reporting period moved as well?

No.  The reporting period start and end dates do not change if a reporting deadline is extended to the next business day following a Saturday, Sunday, or City holiday.

If a reporting period starts or ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or City holiday, are the reporting period dates changed?

No.  Neither the beginning date nor the ending date of a reporting period is changed if either date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or City holiday.

Are the City holidays the same as federal holidays?

No.  Although the City observes most federal holidays, it does not observe Columbus Day.  Instead, the City observes the day after Thanksgiving.

When am I required to file the Disclosure of Substantial Private Business Interests?

Each candidate must file the Disclosure of Substantial Private Business Interests within 10 days of filing the Affidavit of Independent Candidacy.

In addition to this filing, if you are elected, you must file a second Disclosure of Substantial Private Business Interests as an elected official by April 30 after you take the oath of office.  Elected officials are also required to file a Disclosure of Substantial Private Business Interests on April 30 of each year they are in office.

When am I required to file the Affidavit of Independent Candidacy?

The Affidavit of Independent Candidacy must be filed at the same time the nomination petition(s) are filed.  Your petition(s) for nomination are not complete without the Affidavit of Independent Candidacy.

If a special election for City Council or Mayor is held, when will I be required to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures?

If a special election for City Council or Mayor is held, City Council will specify the reporting dates and the reporting periods for each Report of Contributions and Expenditures. If the reporting periods are not specified by resolution or ordinance of City Council, disclosure statements shall be filed on the first day of the month that is ninety (90) days, sixty (60) days, and thirty (30) days before the election, on the Friday before the election, and thirty (30) days after the election.

Does an issue committee that does not support or oppose a ballot question in an election have to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures for that election?

No.  An issue committee is not required to file a Report of Contributions and Expenditures if it does not support or oppose a ballot question in the election.

If an issue committee does not support or oppose a ballot question in the election, disclosure would serve no purpose.  Also, it is possible for an issue committee to have an issue on the November election immediately prior to the April City election.  Because the reporting periods for the two elections overlap, reporting for both elections would cause confusion if the issue committee does not support or oppose an issue in the April election.

Where can I get forms?

You may download the forms from the Campaign Finance Forms page.  Copies of the forms may also be obtained from the Office of the City Clerk, 30 South Nevada, Suite 101, Colorado Springs, during regular business hours.

May the forms be filed and signed electronically?

Yes.  To file electronically, go to the Campaign Finance registration page to register with the campaign finance e-filing system.  There you will be able to download instructions on how to file electronically.

If not e-filing, how and where do I file my forms?

If you are filing using the PDF or paper forms, the methods to submit your forms are:

  • Email a scanned copy of your completed and signed forms to: election@springsgov.com
  • Fax your completed and signed forms to 719-385-5114, no cover sheet is necessary
  • Hand-deliver your completed and signed forms to the City Clerk's Office, 30 S. Nevada Ave, Suite 101, during regular business hours:8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
  • Mail your completed and signed forms to:

City Clerk's Office
PO Box 1575, MC 110
Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1575

<h3>My campaign received a check for $100.00 from an entity whose positions I do not support.&nbsp; Must I report the $100.00 as a contribution?</h3> <p>If your campaign committee returns the check to the donor without depositing the check into the campaign bank account, reporting is not required.</p> <p>If the check was deposited, you may return the funds to the donor by issuing a check drawn on the campaign committee account for the amount returned.&nbsp; In this case, the transaction must be reported as a contribution received of $100.00 and a contribution returned to the donor of $100.00.</p> <h3>May I use my personal bank account for my campaign contributions and expenditures?</h3> <p>No.&nbsp; Campaign funds must be kept separate from your personal funds.&nbsp; Your campaign committee must open an account at a bank or other financial institution.</p> <h3>May I make purchases for my campaign with cash?</h3> <p>Purchases of less than $100.00 may be paid for with cash, but purchases and expenditures over $100.00 must be paid for by check, credit card, debit card, or by any other electronic method.</p> <h3>Are there limits on contributions?</h3> <p>No.&nbsp; There are no limits on the contributions a candidate or a committee may receive from any person.</p> <h3>May I receive contributions from corporations and labor organizations?</h3> <p>Yes.</p> <h3>Must I file campaign disclosure reports if I use yard signs from a previous campaign and will not be accepting or spending funds on the current campaign?</h3> <p>If the fair market value of the yard signs exceeds $20.00 you must file disclosure statements because the yard signs are a current contribution to the campaign in the form of a gift.&nbsp; If reporting is required, you may indicate the contribution is a contribution in kind from a previous campaign.</p> <h3>Must I open a campaign bank account if I will not have a separate candidate committee?</h3> <p>A candidate committee is deemed to include a candidate who does not form a separate committee, so any funds the candidate uses for a campaign are contributions to a candidate committee. City Code requires cash contributions, including contributions by check, to be deposited into a candidate committee’s account at a financial institution.</p> <h3>May I state my party affiliation in my campaign advertising and campaign materials?</h3> <p>Yes.&nbsp; The City Charter and City Code specify that elections are to be nonpartisan and that a candidate may not run for office as the nominee or representative of a political party.&nbsp; However, neither the Charter nor the City Code prohibits a candidate from disclosing, or from encouraging people to vote because of, his or her political affiliation.</p> <h3>May I accept campaign contributions from a political party?</h3> <p>Yes.&nbsp; The City Code does not restrict the source of contributions to a campaign.&nbsp; In addition, although the Charter and City Code specify that elections are to be nonpartisan and that a candidate may not run for office as the nominee or representative of a political party, the funding of a campaign with contributions from a political party does not make the election a partisan election.</p> <h3>If I discover a mistake after I file a form what should I do?</h3> <p>If you discover a mistake after you file a form, you may correct it by filing an amended/corrected form, indicating which prior filing you are correcting and the nature of the correction.&nbsp; The mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible.</p> <h3>Does a candidate or committee need to make any filings after the election?</h3> <p>Yes.&nbsp; Each committee must file a final Report of Contributions and Expenditures for the reporting period that ends 30 days after the election.&nbsp; If this report does not show that all expenses have been paid and that all funds have been expended, the committee must also file a Closeout Distributions report (Schedule E of the Report of Contributions and Expenditures) not later than 90 days after the results of the campaign are certified.</p> <p>If the committee retains funds for another campaign, disclosure by April 30 of each year is also required until the candidate declares candidacy in another election or until the political committee participates in another election.&nbsp; Issue committees cannot retain funds for another election.</p> <h3>What must a candidate committee do if it has funds after all bills have been paid?</h3> <p>A candidate committee that has funds after all bills have been paid has three options.&nbsp; The committee:</p> <ul> <li>may return the funds to the contributors,</li> <li>may retain the funds for use by the candidate in another campaign, or</li> <li>may give the funds to a charity.</li> </ul> <p>The decision must be made and the funds must be distributed or accounted for not later than 90 days after the results of the election are certified.</p> <h3>What must a political committee do if it has funds after all bills have been paid?</h3> <p>A political committee that has funds after all bills have been paid has three options.&nbsp; The political committee:</p> <ul> <li>may return the funds to the contributors,</li> <li>may retain the funds for use by the political committee in another campaign, or</li> <li>may give the funds to a charity.</li> </ul> <p>The decision must be made and the funds must be distributed or accounted for not later than 90 days after the results of the election are certified.</p> <h3>If a campaign committee or a political committee elects to keep funds for a future election, is any further reporting required?</h3> <p>Yes.&nbsp; If a candidate committee or a political committee elects to keep funds for a future election, the political committee or candidate must file a report by April 30 of each year describing any changes in the account during the year, until the candidate declares candidacy in another election or until the political committee participates in another election.</p> <h3>What must an issue committee do if it has funds after all bills have been paid?</h3> <p>An issue committee cannot retain funds for a future election.&nbsp; The issue committee must:</p> <ul> <li>return the funds to the contributors or</li> <li>give the funds to a charity.</li> </ul> <h3>Are there other reporting requirements of which I should be aware?</h3> <p>There may additional reporting requirements imposed by the federal government. For example, PAC or 527 Political Organizations are subject to additional reporting requirements imposed by the Federal Election Committee and the Internal Revenue Service. Please contact your legal advisor for more information on reporting requirements.</p> <h3>What happens if the City Clerk finds a mistake with a filing I have submitted?</h3> <p>If the mistake is minor and can be easily corrected, the City Clerk will inform you and ask you to correct it.&nbsp; If the mistake is more serious, the City Clerk will start a formal process by issuing an Order to Show Cause or to Cure.</p> <p>You will have five (5) days from the date the Order is mailed to correct any mistakes or problems in your filing or to explain why you believe that you have properly completed and timely filed the form.</p> <p>If your corrections to the form or your explanation as to why no corrections are necessary are satisfactory to the City Clerk, the City Clerk will inform you and withdraw the order to show cause and cure.</p> <h3>What happens if the City Clerk does not accept my corrections or my explanation?</h3> <p>The City Clerk will consider your response an appeal of the order to show cause and cure and will refer the matter to the City Attorney who will appoint a Hearing Officer and set a date for a hearing.&nbsp; At the hearing, the Hearing Officer will consider any documents, testimony, and arguments.&nbsp; The Hearing Officer will make a determination and issue written findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding whether any violations alleged in the order to show cause and cure should be upheld and an order on the basis of this information.</p> <h3>May I have an attorney at the hearing?</h3> <p>Yes.</p> <h3>If I disagree with the determination of the Hearing Officer what can I do?</h3> <p>You may appeal the matter to the District Court for the County of El Paso.&nbsp; Your rights in this appeal are limited, and you may wish to consult with an attorney concerning any appeal.</p> <h3>If I do not respond to the Order to Show Cause or to Cure within 5 days, what happens?</h3> <p>If you do not respond to the Order to Show Cause or to Cure within 5 days, the determination of the City Clerk becomes final.&nbsp; That means you have no right to appeal the matter and you may be subject to a civil penalty.</p> <h3>How much is the civil penalty?</h3> <p>In most cases, the civil penalty is $50.00 dollars for each day in the period starting from the date of the filing was due and ending on the date the form was filed. If an Order to Show Cause or to Cure is upheld by a Hearing Officer, the civil penalty would be $50.00 per day from the due date until the date the appeal is filed plus $50.00 per day for each day in the period starting ten days after the date the Hearing Officer’s order is issued until the date the civil penalty is paid.</p> <p>If the civil penalty was imposed because you failed to make the required disclosure in a newspaper, the civil penalty is the greater of $50.00 for each day the advertisement in the newspaper was circulated without the disclosure or $500.00.</p> <h3>Is it true that as long as I file all forms on time I won’t be subject to any civil penalties?</h3> <p>No.&nbsp; You can be subject to a civil penalty even if you believe that you have filed all forms on time because the City Clerk is required to disregard any filing that contains false or misleading information.&nbsp; This means that you will be treated as if you did not file the form on time.</p> <h3>What is considered false or misleading information?&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</h3> <p>Whether the information is false or misleading depends on the facts of each case.&nbsp; However, certain mistakes generally will be considered false or misleading.&nbsp; A form that does not include the required information, that is not signed, or that is inconsistent with your prior filings will likely be considered to be false or misleading.</p> <h3>Will the City Clerk and the Hearing Officer each impose a civil penalty?</h3> <p>No, not for the same violation.</p> <p>The City Clerk may impose a civil penalty only if you fail to respond to the Order to Show Cause or to Cure.</p> <p>The Hearing Officer may impose a civil penalty only if the facts established at hearing warrant the imposition of a civil penalty.&nbsp; However, the Hearing Officer can hear the case only if you timely respond to the Order to Show Cause or to Cure.</p> <h3>Can the civil penalty be reduced if I have a good reason for failing to correct the mistakes or problems?</h3> <p>Yes.&nbsp; If you timely respond to the Order to Show Cause or to Cure and can establish “good cause,” that is a good reason as to why the civil penalty should be reduced, the City Clerk or the Hearing Officer has the authority to reduce the civil penalty.</p> <h3>What must I show to establish good cause?</h3> <p>Whether you establish good cause to have the civil penalty reduced depends upon the facts surrounding your case.&nbsp; There is no “formula” or “test” that can be used to establish good cause.&nbsp; That is why the City Clerk or the Hearing Officer must consider the facts of each case.</p> <h3>What happens if I do not pay the civil penalty?</h3> <p>If you do not pay the civil penalty, your obligation is a debt owed by you to the City, and the City may take appropriate legal action to collect this debt.</p> <h3>If I believe that report submitted by another candidate is not correct what can I do to make sure the report is corrected?</h3> <p>Any person may file a complaint with the City Clerk relating to what he or she believes is a false, misleading, or otherwise improper filing.&nbsp; The complaint must be submitted on the Campaign Finance Complaint Form available on <a href="https://coloradosprings.gov/city-clerk/page/campaign-finance-forms">Campaign Finance Forms</a> and must be signed by you.&nbsp; The complaint must be received by the City Clerk not more than 45 days after the date the filing you believe contains the improper information was due.&nbsp; A complaint received after that time will not be considered.</p> <h3>What happens after a complaint is filed?</h3> <p>The City Clerk will review the complaint.&nbsp; If the City Clerk has reason to believe that the complaint establishes that a violation occurred, the City Clerk will issue an Order to Show Cause or to Cure.</p> <p>If the City Clerk does not have reason to believe that a violation occurred, the City Clerk will consider the matter closed.</p> <h3>If a hearing is held on the matters I raised in a complaint, will I be permitted to testify at the hearing?</h3> <p>Whether you will be permitted to testify depends upon the Hearing Officer.&nbsp; The City Attorney and the party you filed a complaint against may ask that you be permitted to testify.</p> <h3>Do I have to testify if I don’t want to?</h3> <p>Yes, but only if the Hearing Officer issues a subpoena, a legal document that requires you to appear at the hearing and to testify.</p> <h3>How will I know if I am required to testify at a hearing?</h3> <p>You will be served with a subpoena.</p> <p>
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