Campaign Finance FAQ's
The City Clerk’s Office often receives the same or similar inquiries regarding campaign finance. The following is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice. Each candidate is responsible for meeting proper reporting requirements.
For all campaign finance questions, we recommend reviewing Chapters 8 and 10 of the City Code and/or consulting with an accountant or legal advisor if you have more concerns regarding these issues.
I’ve set up an account with an online-only bank. I have thus far only received donations via check, debit and credit card. However, in the event I receive a cash donation, can I use the cash to pay for campaign related expenses if I report it on a campaign expenditure report?
For your cash contributions, you would report them as such. The contribution would follow the same reporting procedure on the Campaign Contributions Report, and under “type” you would specify “cash.” The other piece of this would be to report the purchases made with cash in your Campaign Expenditures Report accompanied with the expense purpose and the receipt.
Can you clarify whether/how to report in-kind contributions, such as a friend’s assistance with developing or producing campaign literature?
In-kind contributions follow the same reporting procedure on the Campaign Contributions Report. Per Section 8-15 C, if the individual, or friend, provides a service for which they are paid by a client or an employer, the “type” reported would simply be labeled “professional services in-kind” with a general description of the contribution, and a value as assigned by the service provider.
Upon review, the City of Hyattsville's Ethics Commission has clarified how to report in-kind contributions. In addition to reporting the contribution, the amount and purpose of an in-kind donation should also be recorded as an expenditure. Updated 4/18/2017 at 10:00 PM.
Similarly, what about the candidate’s (or others’) use of existing household materials to produce materials related to the campaign (i.e., buttons, print outs of contribution sheets, etc.)? How detailed must we be in reporting expenses?
Materials or services purchased for the campaign should be valued at market price and accompanied by a receipt. On hand materials can be used without reporting.
I’ve received donations from friends via their business PayPal accounts and it shows up on PayPal as the business’ name. How should I handle these donations? Can I accept them in the name of the friend? Or do I need to return them and ask for another method of donation?
Any campaign contributions received via business PayPal accounts must be returned. These individuals are welcome to make contributions from their personal accounts or by alternative methods of donation. Reference Section 8-21 G.
Upon review, the City of Hyattsville's Ethics Commission has clarified how to report refunded contributions going forward. The contributor must be reported and the amount column must state “refunded" rather than a dollar amount. Do not include the refunded amount in Total Campaign Contributions. Updated 4/18/2017 at 10:00 PM.
I have received contributions through PayPal, which deducts a small percentage of each as a service charge. I can track the contributions and service charges through the PayPal website, and have included that in my expenditure report, but cannot seem to get any form of a receipt or measure of total fees from PayPal. Should I include these fees in my expenditure report and not include a receipt in my filing information? Fees paid to PayPal or similar fundraising websites do complicate
reporting of contributions. The full amount contributed (inclusive of any fee)
must be reported on the Campaign Contributions report. For example, PayPal
typically charges $3.20 in fees for a $100 contribution; the full $100.00 must
be reported as the contribution amount, not the $96.80 received.
Total electronic processing fees paid for accepting contributions via PayPal or a similar platform may be reported as an aggregate amount on the Campaign Expenditures report for the contribution period. A copy of the PayPal financial statement showing the total fees paid, or a report of individual contributions with the fee paid for each contribution, will suffice as the receipt to document the processing fee.
I paid for a couple of small items out of pocket before I had a Separate Campaign Account or had started fundraising. I understand I can pay myself back for them, but I’m not sure how to report it. Could you send an example? How do I report this?
Candidates may reimburse themselves for these expenses, however it must be reported on both the Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reports. The initial purchase would be reported as a Campaign Contribution from yourself for the respective amount. Per Section 8-18, family contributions may be aggregated under one line or total, to ease the reporting process. The reimbursement would be reported as a Campaign Expenditure and would have to be accompanied with the expense purpose (reimbursement) and a receipt.
Upon review, the City of Hyattsville's Ethics Commission has clarified how self-reimbursements should be reported. The payee on the Campaign Expenditure Report should reflect the provider of service rather than "self" or the name of the Candidate. Updated 4/18/2017 at 10:00 PM.
I want to make a purchase with my personal credit card for campaign related materials and reimburse myself with funds from my registered Separate Campaign Account. Is this possible, and how could I report this expenditure?
The purchase may be recorded as a personal donation to the campaign. A reimbursement may then be made to yourself from the campaign account. Receipts for the purchase must accompany the campaign report.
I am currently serving as my own Campaign Treasurer and wanted to know if I can have a balance of $1,500.00, or more, of my own contributions in my Separate Campaign Account, without appointing a separate Campaign Treasurer.
If the total contributions from all outside sources do not exceed $1,500, you may serve as your own treasurer. Please see Section 8-19 B.