Campaign Finance Reporting by Political Action Committees
Initial Report and Campaign Finance Reports
Upon initial registration, a PAC is required to file an initial campaign finance report documenting the PACs contributions and expenditures from the beginning of the calendar year through the date of registration. Once registered, PACs are also required to file ongoing campaign finance reports according to strict filing deadlines. Campaign finance reports must include all contributions received and expenditures made for the purpose of influencing an election in Maine. In addition to the scheduled campaign finance reports, committees may be required to file 24-Hour reports and Independent Expenditure reports.
If a PAC registered with the Ethics Commission becomes involved in an election in certain municipalities, it must file copies of its state campaign finance reports with the clerk of the municipality.
Contributions of $5,000 or more received or expenditures of $1,000 or more made after the 14th day before the election must be reported in a 24-hour report. Certain expenditures of $1,000 or more are not required to be reported in a 24-hour report. Those expenditures are: overhead expenses, such as rent, utility payments and taxes; and compensation paid to employees or other members of campaign staff who have received regular payments disclosed in prior reports. This report can be filed electronically through the PAC's electronic filing home page.
Independent Expenditure Reports
A PAC may have to file an independent expenditure report if it spends money on a communication to influence a candidate election. The threshold amount for the requirement to file an independent expenditure report is $250 per candidate. The deadline for filing the report depends on when the expenditure was made.
With the exception of independent expenditure reports, which must be submitted to the Commission on paper, all campaign finance reports must be filed electronically. All reports, except 24-hour reports, are due by 11:59 p.m. on the filing deadline. 24-hour reports are due within 24 hours of receiving the contribution or making the expenditure.
Late Filed Reports
PACs that file late are subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 or, if the amount of financial activity reported late is more than $50,000, 100% of the amount reported late. The failure to file a report within 30 days of the deadline is a Class E crime.
Record-Keeping Requirements for PACs
PACs must keep records for at least four (4) years following the election to which the records pertain.
Records of Contributions
The treasurer of a PAC must keep a record of all contributors who made contributions that, when combined, amounted to more than $50 during a campaign. The record must include the dates and amounts of all contributions. For individual contributors, the record must also include the contributor’s name and mailing address.
PACs are not required to keep records of contributors whose aggregate contributions amount to less than $50 over the course of a campaign.
Records of Expenditures
The PAC's treasurer must keep a detailed record of all expenditures made to or on behalf of a candidate, campaign or committee. The treasurer must also retain all vendor invoices or receipts of expenditures over $50. Receipts may be in the form of cancelled checks.