Campaign Finance Reports
Chapter 1173 of the Acts of 1973 strengthened the state campaign finance law and established the State Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). While the 1970s saw a push for reforms in campaign finance disclosure laws all across the country, portions of the campaign finance law were on the books in Massachusetts as early as 1884. Some of these original laws provide for restrictions on and protections for public employees.
Chapter 55 of the M.G.L. is a comprehensive statute governing the financing of political campaigns in Massachusetts. The statute requires, for example, that candidates and political committees disclose all contributions received and expenditures made. The campaign finance law also provides for limitations and in some cases absolute prohibitions, on certain sources of campaign contributions. Additionally, the way in which campaign funds may be spent is regulated by the statute as well as by regulations and guidelines established by OCPF. Finally, Chapter 55 regulates certain conduct in connection with the raising and spending of campaign funds, such as the activities of public employees, and prohibits the use of governmental resources for political purposes. OCPF has promulgated regulations (970 CMR) on contributions and expenditures, which should be consulted for more specific guidelines on these requirements.
Besides serving as a source of general information about campaign finance, the OCPF website includes a database of state candidate campaign reports, downloadable reports, campaign finance guides, advisory letters, and newsletters.
For a schedule of reporting dates in Acton click here.
Campaign Finance Reporting Requirements
Your first filing is the 8th day preceding the election. For municipal election candidates use form CPF M 102.
The next form filed would be 30 days after the election. The post election report can be considered the final report if candidate has no cash balance, assets, or outstanding liabilities.
The Year-End Report must be filed every year so long as the committee is in existence, or the candidate maintains a campaign fund, has outstanding debts, or is an incumbent elected official.
Schedule E (Disclosure of Assets) should also be filed with the Year-End Report in order for the report to be considered complete.
If a candidate has received no contributions, made no expenditures, incurred no obligations during the reporting period, and does not have a campaign fund in existence, then the candidate may find it easier to file form CPF M 102-0 (Campaign Finance Report). The filing deadlines are the same as above, but only a signature is required.
A subsequent year-end report is required for incumbents and candidates or committees that have continuing balances or liabilities or did not dissolve for the post-election report. The year-end report is due on January 20th of the following year (CPF M 102-0).
Copies of all forms are available in the Town Clerk’s Office. The forms may also be downloaded from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website – http://www.mass.gov/ocpf.