TITLE 15

Elections

Election Campaigns

CHAPTER 80. CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Subchapter I. General Provisions


The purpose of this chapter is to protect the public interest by requiring full disclosure of the source of all funds used in political campaigns, providing reasonable limits on the amounts of contributions and providing a manner to enforce this law.

67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1.;

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Candidate" means a person who seeks nomination for or election to public office, or who has taken action necessary under the law to qualify for nomination or election under the laws of the State, or has authorized the solicitation of any contribution or the making of any expenditure in that person's behalf.

(2) "Candidate committee" means each political committee formed on behalf of a candidate for public office.

(3) "Cash" includes currency, money orders, travelers checks and other negotiable instruments that do not disclose on their face the true name of the contributor.

(4) "Chapter" includes, in addition to the provisions of this chapter, the rules and regulations made by the Commissioner.

(5) "Clearly identified candidate" means that the name, a photograph or a drawing of the candidate appears or the identity of the candidate is otherwise apparent by unambiguous reference.

(6) "Commissioner" means the State Election Commissioner, or the designee of the Commissioner.

(7) "Communications media" means television, radio, newspaper or other periodical, sign, Internet, mail or telephone.

(8) "Contribution" means any advance, deposit, gift, expenditure or transfer, of money or any other thing of value, to or for the benefit of any candidate or political committee involved in an election, including without limitation any:

a. Gift, subscription, advance, deposit, expenditure or transfer of any thing of value;

b. Discount or rebate not available to the general public (except a party's abatement or refund of a filing fee otherwise required under § 3103 of this title);

c. Loan (except a loan of money by a national or state bank, building and loan association or licensed lender made in the ordinary course of business);

d. Purchase of tickets, goods or services sold to raise funds for a campaign, whether or not the tickets, goods or services are used by the buyer;

e. Forgiveness of indebtedness or payment of indebtedness by another person;

f. Service or use of property without full payment therefor (except the contribution of services by an individual, the use of an individual's residence, the contribution of such items as invitations, food and beverages by an individual volunteering personal services or the individual's residence, or the use of the telephone equipment of any person); or

g. Any other thing of value (except an independent expenditure).

(9) "Election" means the action by qualified voters of the State either to nominate by vote a candidate for public office or to select a candidate to fill a public office, whether in a primary, general or special election.

(10)a. "Electioneering communication" means a communication by any individual or other person (other than a candidate committee or a political party) that:

1. Refers to a clearly identified candidate; and

2. Is publicly distributed within 30 days before a primary election or special election, or 60 days before a general election to an audience that includes members of the electorate for the office sought by such candidate. For purposes of this section, the term "general election" shall include any annual election for 1 or more members of a school board pursuant to § 1072(c) of Title 14.

b. "Electioneering communication" does not include:

1. A communication distributed by a means other than by any communications media;

2. Any membership communication;

3. A communication appearing in a news article, editorial, opinion, or commentary, provided that such communication is not distributed via any communications media owned or controlled by any candidate, political committee or the person purchasing such communication;

4. A communication made in any candidate debate or forum, or which solely promotes such a debate or forum and is made by or on behalf of the person sponsoring the debate or forum.

(11) "Election period" means:

a. For a candidate committee:

1. For a candidate for reelection to an office to which the candidate was elected in the most recent election held therefor, the period beginning on January 1 immediately after the most recent such election, and ending on the December 31 immediately after the general election at which the candidate seeks reelection to the office.

2. For a candidate for reelection to an office which the candidate attained since the last election held therefor (whether the candidate attained the office by succession, appointment or otherwise), the period beginning on the day the candidate succeeded to or was appointed to the office, and ending on the December 31 immediately after the general election at which the candidate seeks reelection to the office.

3. For a candidate for election to an office which the candidate does not hold, the period beginning on the day on which the candidate first receives any contribution from any person (other than from the candidate or from the candidate's spouse) in support of that candidate's candidacy for the office, and ending on the December 31 immediately after the general election at which the candidate seeks election to the office.

4. Notwithstanding the foregoing, for purposes of the limitations under § 8010 of this title on contributions from persons other than political parties and political action committees, for a candidate in a general election who was nominated for such office in a primary election, the election period shall end on the day of the primary and the next election period shall begin on the day after the primary.

b. For a political party and for a political action committee, the period beginning on the January 1 immediately after a general election, and ending on the December 31 immediately after the next general election.

c. For a candidate committee for a person who does not hold public office and who has not taken action necessary under the law to qualify for nomination or election under the laws of the State, the period beginning on the date the first contribution is received or expenditure is made by the committee and ending on the fourth December 31 following such date; provided, however, that if such person takes action necessary under the law to qualify for nomination or election under the laws of the State, the period shall be determined under paragraph (11)a. of this section.

d. For a person who makes an expenditure for a third-party advertisement, the election period shall begin and end at the same time as that of the candidate identified in such advertisement, without regard to paragraph (11)a.4. of this section.

(12) "Expenditure" means any payment made or debt incurred, by or on behalf of a candidate or political committee, or to assist in the election of any candidate or in connection with any election campaign.

(13) "Independent expenditure" means any expenditure made by any individual or other person (other than a candidate committee or a political party) expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, which is made without cooperation or consultation with any candidate, or any committee or agent of such candidate, and which is not made in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or any committee or agent of such candidate. An expenditure shall constitute an expenditure in coordination, consultation or concert with a candidate and shall not constitute an independent expenditure where:

a. There is any arrangement, coordination or direction with respect to the expenditure between the candidate or the candidate's agent and the person (including any officer, director, employee or agent of such person) making the expenditure;

b. The person making the expenditure (including any officer, director, employee or agent of such person) has advised or counseled the candidate or the candidate's agents on the candidate's plans, projects or needs relating to the candidate's pursuit of nomination or election, in the same election period, including any advice relating to the candidate's decision to seek office; or

c. The expenditure is based on information provided to the person making the expenditure directly or indirectly by the candidate or the candidate's agents about the candidate's plans, projects or needs; provided, that the candidate or the candidate's agent is aware that the other person has made or is planning to make expenditures advocating the candidate's election.

(14) " Mailing address" means a physical mailing address, and shall not include a post office box.

(15) "Membership communication" means a newsletter or periodical, telephone call, or any other communication distributed solely to the members, shareholders, or employees of an organization or institution.

(16) "Officer" means:

a. If used with respect to a corporation, a natural person appointed or designated as an officer of such corporation by or pursuant to applicable law or the certificate of incorporation or bylaws of such corporation, or a person who performs with respect to such corporation functions usually performed by an officer of a corporation. Without limitation of the foregoing, the term "officer" shall include the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, chief executive officer, chief operating officer or chief financial officer of such corporation, or their respective equivalents; and

b. If used with respect to an entity other than a natural person or a corporation, a natural person who performs functions usually performed by an officer of a corporation with respect to such entity.

(17) "Person" includes any individual, corporation, company, incorporated or unincorporated association, general or limited partnership, society, joint stock company, and any other organization or institution of any nature.

(18) "Political action committee" means a political committee which is neither a political party nor a candidate committee.

(19) "Political committee" means :

a. Any organization or association, whether permanent or created for the purposes of a specific political campaign, which accepts contributions from or makes expenditures to any candidate, candidate committee or political party in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during an election period, not including independent expenditures; and

b. All political parties and candidate committees.

(20) "Political party" means an organization eligible to be listed on any general election ballot under § 3001 of this title, or any other organization which desires to be listed on any ballot on any election, and any constituent part of such party which receives contributions and makes expenditures. For purposes of the contribution limits of subchapter II of this chapter, a "political party" includes all constituent parts of such party, including the statewide, county, regional, municipal and district committees, all finance committees and all other committees, subdivisions and organizations related to the political party.

(21) "Publicly distributed" means aired, broadcast, delivered or otherwise disseminated to members of the public.

(22) "Public office" means an office of this State or any political subdivision thereof which is required by law to be determined by an election.

(23) "Responsible party" means any natural person who shares or exercises discretion or control over the activities of any entity required to file reports in accordance with this chapter, and shall include any officer, director, partner, proprietor or other natural person who exercises discretion or control over the activities of such entity.

(24) "School board" means the board of education of a reorganized school district consisting of members duly elected or appointed in accordance with Title 14.

(25) "Sign" means any outdoor billboard, panel or similar display having an area of at least 3 square feet.

(26) "Special election" means:

a. For a school board, any election for 1 or more school board members other than the annual election of members pursuant to § 1072(c) of Title 14.

b. For any other public office, an election other than a primary or general election to fill a vacancy for public office, created by reason of failure to elect, ineligibility, death, resignation or otherwise, for which there is more than one candidate.

(27) "Third-party advertisement" means an independent expenditure or an electioneering communication.

(28) "Treasurer" means the individual appointed by a candidate to assist the candidate with the duties imposed by this chapter.

59 Del. Laws, c. 580, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 400, § 1.;

(a) A candidate shall establish a candidate committee. There shall only be 1 candidate committee for any candidate, although such candidate committee may have subcommittees. The candidate committee may continue in existence for more than 1 election period, and with respect to more than 1 elective office. Each candidate committee or subcommittee shall notify the Commissioner as required under § 8005 of this title, and shall comply with all the other requirements of this chapter. A candidate shall be responsible for the lawful operation of the candidate's own candidate committee and all subcommittees thereof.

(b) Except for independent expenditures that meet the requirements of this chapter, all contributions to or on behalf of a candidate shall be placed into the candidate committee, and all expenditures to or on behalf of a candidate shall be made from the candidate committee.

(c) A candidate shall cause the candidate's own candidate committee to keep complete records of all contributions received and all expenditures made by or on behalf of the candidate's candidacy, and shall retain such records for 3 full years following the election in which that candidate was a candidate; provided, however, that the candidate need not keep records of the names and mailing addresses of persons making contributions of $100 or less in an election period.

(d) A candidate shall file or cause to be filed with the Commissioner the reports required of that candidate's campaign committee under § 8030 of this title.

(e) A candidate shall designate an individual as treasurer of that candidate's candidate committee, in order to assist with the duties under this chapter, but nothing shall relieve the candidate from the responsibility for keeping the records and filing the reports required by this chapter.

(f) A candidate for state office shall file the financial disclosure reports required by subchapter II, Chapter 58 of Title 29.

59 Del. Laws, c. 580, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 423, § 1.;

Notwithstanding anything provided elsewhere in this chapter, no candidate for election to any school board or to any other public office that pays less than $1,000 per year shall be required to form a candidate committee if that candidate signs under penalty of perjury a statement in a form prepared by the Commissioner, certifying that such candidate does not intend nor expect that the candidate's campaign will receive nor spend, from the date of the first contribution or expenditure on behalf of such candidate's election until the end of the year in which the election for such office is held, more than $2,000. If, notwithstanding the execution of such a statement, such candidate's campaign nevertheless receives more than $2,000 in contributions or expends more than $2,000 (including any contributions or expenditures by the candidate) before the end of the year in which the election for such office is held, the candidate shall within 7 days thereafter, so notify the Commissioner, and shall cause to be filed all reports that would otherwise have been required theretofore under this chapter.

67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 400, § 2.;

A political committee shall:

(1) File a statement of organization with the Commissioner no later than 24 hours after it receives any contribution or makes any expenditure that causes the aggregate amount of contributions by or expenditures to such committee to exceed $500 during an election period. The statement of organization shall be filed under penalty of perjury, and shall include the following information:

a. The full name and mailing address of the committee;

b. The full name and mailing address of each of the officers of the committee, one of whom shall be an individual named as its treasurer;

c. A concise statement of the committee's purposes or goals;

d. The name, office sought, and party affiliation of any candidate whom the committee is supporting or opposing, to the extent such information is known as of the date of filing; and, if the committee is supporting the entire ticket of any party, the name of the party; and

e. If the committee files reports with the Federal Elections Commission or any out-of-state agency, a statement to that effect including the name of the agency.

(2) Report any change in its officers within 7 days after such change becomes effective.

(3) Keep complete records of all contributions received and all expenditures made by or on behalf of the political committee, and shall retain such records for 3 full years following the election in connection with which the contributions and expenditures were made.

(4) File with the Commissioner the reports required under this chapter.

59 Del. Laws, c. 580, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 400, § 3.;

(a) No person shall, directly or through any other person, solicit or promise any contract, any vote, any employment or other service, or any official action or lack of action, in connection with any contribution.

(b) No person shall make, and no candidate, treasurer or other person acting on behalf of a candidate or political committee shall knowingly accept a contribution made in a fictitious name or in the name of another person. No person shall make, and no candidate, treasurer or other person acting on behalf of a candidate or political committee shall knowingly accept a contribution whose donor's true name and address is not made known to the political committee that receives it.

59 Del. Laws, c. 580, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1.;

epealed by 67 Del. Laws, c. 449, § 1, effective Jan. 1, 1991;