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S.F. No. 214 - Expressly Advocating; Electioneering Communications; Prorating Certain Donations
Author: Senator Jim Carlson
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
Date: March 10, 2015


S.F. No. 214 expands the definition of expressly advocating; defines and regulates electioneering communications; provides a different method to prorate certain contributions.

Section 1 expands the definition of “expressly advocating.”

Sections 2 and 3 add references to “electioneering communications.”

Section 4 governs electioneering communications.  Subdivision 1 provides a definition for electioneering communication.  An electioneering communication is a communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate; is made within 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before a general election; is targeted to the relevant audience; and is made without consent of a candidate.  Electioneering communication does not include news editorials, approved expenditures, independent expenditures, voter guides, communications specified in board rules or advisory opinions, and certain communications referencing an incumbent member of the legislature.

Subdivision 2 provides guidance on when a communication is considered “targeted to the relevant electorate.”

Subdivision 3 requires political committees, party units, and principal campaign committees to disclose electioneering communications on their reports of receipts and expenditures.  Other entities may register a political fund with the board and disclose its electioneering communications on its reports of receipts and expenditures.  An association that does not disclose under either previously described options must disclose its electioneering communications by the statement described in subdivision 4

Subdivision 4 provides for the statement that unregistered associations are required to file to disclose electioneering communications. An unregistered association or individual who makes a disbursement for electioneering communications of more than $1500 in a calendar year must file a disclosure statement with the board within 24 hours of each disclosure date. The statement must include specified information about: the association making the disbursement, disbursements of more than $200, names of candidates identified; and donors who make donations over the specified thresholds. The method for attributing donations and membership fees and dues is specified.

Subdivision 5 provides a definition of “disclosure date.”

Subdivision 6 specifies that a person who has entered into an obligation to make a disbursement is treated as having made that disbursement.

Subdivision 7 requires each electioneering communication to include a statement of attribution.

Subdivision 8 provides penalties for failure to file a statement required by the bill.  Notice must be sent before fees and penalties may be imposed.

Sections 5 and 6 add references to “electioneering communications.”

Section 7 provides a new process to determine how contributions will be prorated.  To determine the amount of membership dues or fees or donations made by a person to an association and attributable to the association’s contribution to an independent expenditure or ballot question political committee or fund, the donor association must separately prorate the independent expenditures and ballot question expenditures made during the year over all general treasury money received during the year.  The process to prorate funds is provided for the circumstance where the amount contributed to independent expenditure ballot question political committees or funds exceed the amount of general treasury money received by the association. Current options for choosing how to prorate donations and the triggers for identification of individuals or associations are deleted.

Section 8 provides an immediate effective date.


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