§ 106.08 Contributions; limitations on.
Overview of Statute
This statute governs the limitations on contributions. If an individual violates the state contribution limits, he/she is subject to a fine equal to twice the amount of the contribution.
(1)(a) Except for political parties or affiliated party committees, no person or political committee may, in any election, make contributions in excess of the following amounts:
- To a candidate for statewide office or for retention as a justice of the Supreme Court, $3,000. Candidates for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor on the same ticket are considered a single candidate for the purpose of this section.
- To a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal; a candidate for legislative office; a candidate for multicounty office; a candidate for countywide office or in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis; or a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge, $1,000.
(b) The contribution limits provided in this subsection do not apply to contributions made by a state or county executive committee of a political party or affiliated party committee regulated by chapter 103 or to amounts contributed by a candidate to his or her own campaign.
(c) The contribution limits of this subsection apply to each election. For purposes of this subsection, the primary election and general election are separate elections so long as the candidate is not an unopposed candidate as defined in s. 106.011. However, for the purpose of contribution limits with respect to candidates for retention as a justice or judge, there is only one election, which is the general election.
(b) A candidate for statewide office may not accept contributions from national, state, or county executive committees of a political party, including any subordinate committee of the political party, or affiliated party committees, which contributions in the aggregate exceed $250,000. Polling services, research services, costs for campaign staff, professional consulting services, and telephone calls are not contributions to be counted toward the contribution limits of paragraph (a) or this paragraph. Any item not expressly identified in this paragraph as nonallocable is a contribution in an amount equal to the fair market value of the item and must be counted as allocable toward the contribution limits of paragraph (a) or this paragraph. Nonallocable, in-kind contributions must be reported by the candidate under s. 106.07 and by the political party or affiliated party committee under s. 106.29.
(b) Any contribution received by a candidate or by the campaign treasurer or a deputy campaign treasurer of a candidate after the date at which the candidate withdraws his or her candidacy, or after the date the candidate is defeated, becomes unopposed, or is elected to office must be returned to the person or committee contributing it and may not be used or expended by or on behalf of the candidate.
(b) Candidates, political committees, affiliated party committees, and political parties may not solicit contributions from any religious, charitable, civic, or other causes or organizations established primarily for the public good.(c) Candidates, political committees, affiliated party committees, and political parties may not make contributions, in exchange for political support, to any religious, charitable, civic, or other cause or organization established primarily for the public good. It is not a violation of this paragraph for:
- A candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party executive committee to make gifts of money in lieu of flowers in memory of a deceased person;
- A candidate to continue membership in, or make regular donations from personal or business funds to, religious, political party, affiliated party committee, civic, or charitable groups of which the candidate is a member or to which the candidate has been a regular donor for more than 6 months; or
- A candidate to purchase, with campaign funds, tickets, admission to events, or advertisements from religious, civic, political party, affiliated party committee, or charitable groups.
- A political party or affiliated party committee may not accept any in-kind contribution that fails to provide a direct benefit to the political party or affiliated party committee. A “direct benefit” includes, but is not limited to, fundraising or furthering the objectives of the political party or affiliated party committee.
- a. An in-kind contribution to a state political party may be accepted only by the chairperson of the state political party or by the chairperson’s designee or designees whose names are on file with the division in a form acceptable to the division before the date of the written notice required in sub-subparagraph b. An in-kind contribution to a county political party may be accepted only by the chairperson of the county political party or by the county chairperson’s designee or designees whose names are on file with the supervisor of elections of the respective county before the date of the written notice required in sub-subparagraph b. An in-kind contribution to an affiliated party committee may be accepted only by the leader of the affiliated party committee as defined in s.103.092 or by the leader’s designee or designees whose names are on file with the division in a form acceptable to the division before the date of the written notice required in sub-subparagraph b.
- b. A person making an in-kind contribution to a state or county political party or affiliated party committee must provide prior written notice of the contribution to a person described in sub-subparagraph a. The prior written notice must be signed and dated and may be provided by an electronic or facsimile message. However, prior written notice is not required for an in-kind contribution that consists of food and beverage in an aggregate amount not exceeding $1,500 which is consumed at a single sitting or event if such in-kind contribution is accepted in advance by a person specified in sub-subparagraph a.
- c. A person described in sub-subparagraph a. may accept an in-kind contribution requiring prior written notice only in a writing that is dated before the in-kind contribution is made. Failure to obtain the required written acceptance of an in-kind contribution to a state or county political party or affiliated party committee constitutes a refusal of the contribution.
- d. A copy of each prior written acceptance required under sub-subparagraph c. must be filed at the time the regular reports of contributions and expenditures required under s. 106.29 are filed by the state executive committee, county executive committee, and affiliated party committee. A state executive committee and an affiliated party committee must file with the division. A county executive committee must file with the county’s supervisor of elections.
- e. An in-kind contribution may not be given to a state or county political party or affiliated party committee unless the in-kind contribution is made as provided in this subparagraph.
(b) Any person who knowingly and willfully makes or accepts two or more contributions in violation of subsection (1) or subsection (5) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. If any corporation, partnership, or other business entity or any political party, affiliated party committee, political committee, or electioneering communications organization is convicted of knowingly and willfully violating any provision punishable under this paragraph, it shall be fined not less than $10,000 and not more than $50,000. If it is a domestic entity, it may be ordered dissolved by a court of competent jurisdiction; if it is a foreign or nonresident business entity, its right to do business in this state may be forfeited. Any officer, partner, agent, attorney, or other representative of a corporation, partnership, or other business entity, or of a political committee, political party, affiliated party committee, or electioneering communications organization, or organization exempt from taxation under s. 527 or s. 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, who aids, abets, advises, or participates in a violation of any provision punishable under this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
s. 8, ch. 73-128; s. 6, ch. 74-200; s. 1, ch. 77-174; s. 48, ch. 77-175; s. 1, ch. 78-403; s. 9, ch. 79-365; s. 5, ch. 79-378; s. 7, ch. 85-226; s. 4, ch. 86-134; s. 12, ch. 89-256; ss. 33, 46, ch. 90-315; s. 9, ch. 90-338; s. 11, ch. 91-107; s. 642, ch. 95-147; s. 3, ch. 97-13; s. 8, ch. 99-355; s. 27, ch. 2002-17; s. 3, ch. 2002-197; s. 1, ch. 2002-281; s. 68, ch. 2005-277; s. 46, ch. 2005-278; s. 25, ch. 2005-286; s. 1, ch. 2005-360; s. 9, ch. 2006-300; s. 44, ch. 2007-30; s. 26, ch. 2010-167; ss. 14, 30, ch. 2011-6; s. 62, ch. 2011-40; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 8, ch. 2012-5; s. 13, ch. 2013-37.
For validity of subsection (4), see Worley v. Florida Secretary of State, 717 F.3d 1238 (11th Cir. 2013).
For article on how Florida localities are enacting stricter limits on contributions, super PACs, and foreign money, see https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/could-florida-all-places-be-leader-campaign-finance-reform. The article also discusses possible legal challenges to these changes.
1. Definition for Supervisor
The supervisor of elections. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(36).
2. Definition for Expenditure
(a) A purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication. However, “expenditure” does not include a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election when made by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate qualifies or an issue is placed on the ballot for that election, for the purpose of printing or distributing such organization’s newsletter, containing a statement by such organization in support of or opposition to a candidate or issue, which newsletter is distributed only to members of such organization.
(b) As used in chapter 106, an “expenditure” for an electioneering communication is made when the earliest of the following occurs:
1. A person enters into a contract for applicable goods or services;
2. A person makes payment, in whole or in part, for the production or public dissemination of applicable goods or services; or
3. The electioneering communication is publicly disseminated. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(10).
3. Definition for Contribution
(a) A gift, subscription, conveyance, deposit, loan, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value, including contributions in kind having an attributable monetary value in any form, made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication.
(b) A transfer of funds between political committees, between electioneering communications organizations, or between any combination of these groups.
(c) The payment, by a person other than a candidate or political committee, of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a candidate or political committee without charge to the candidate or committee for such services.
(d) The transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy campaign treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, and the term includes interest earned on such account or certificate.
Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the term may not be construed to include services, including, but not limited to, legal and accounting services, provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee or editorial endorsements. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(5).
4. Definition for General Election
An election held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in the even-numbered years, for the purpose of filling national, state, county, and district offices and for voting on constitutional amendments not otherwise provided for by law. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(16).
5. Definition for Primary Election
An election held preceding the general election for the purpose of nominating a party nominee to be voted for in the general election to fill a national, state, county, or district office. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(29).
6. Definition for Campaign Treasurer
An individual appointed by a candidate or political committee as provided in chapter 106. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(2).
7. Definition for Political Committee
1. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual, that, in an aggregate amount in excess of $500 during a single calendar year:
a. Accepts contributions for the purpose of making contributions to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;
b. Accepts contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue;
c. Makes expenditures that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or the passage or defeat of an issue; or
d. Makes contributions to a common fund, other than a joint checking account between spouses, from which contributions are made to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party;
2. The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative who intends to seek the signatures of registered electors.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the following entities are not considered political committees for purposes of this chapter:
1. National political parties, the state and county executive committees of political parties, and affiliated party committees regulated by chapter 103.
2. Corporations regulated by chapter 607 or chapter 617 or other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates, if their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates, political parties, affiliated party committees, or political committees or expenditures in support of or opposition to an issue from corporate or business funds and if no contributions are received by such corporations or business entities.
3. Electioneering communications organizations as defined in subsection (9). Fla. Stat. § 106.11(16).
8. Definition for Unopposed Candidate
A candidate for nomination or election to an office who, after the last day on which a person, including a write-in candidate, may qualify, is without opposition in the election at which the office is to be filled or who is without such opposition after such date as a result of a primary election or of withdrawal by other candidates seeking the same office. A candidate is not an unopposed candidate if there is a vacancy to be filled under s. 100.111(3), if there is a legal proceeding pending regarding the right to a ballot position for the office sought by the candidate, or if the candidate is seeking retention as a justice or judge. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(18).
9. Definition for Electioneering Communication
Communication that is publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, or telephone and that:
1. Refers to or depicts a clearly identified candidate for office without expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate but that is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate;
2. Is made within 30 days before a primary or special primary election or 60 days before any other election for the office sought by the candidate; and
3. Is targeted to the relevant electorate in the geographic area the candidate would represent if elected.
The term “electioneering communication” does not include:
1. A communication disseminated through a means of communication other than a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, telephone, or statement or depiction by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate named or depicted qualifies for that election, made in that organization’s newsletter, which newsletter is distributed only to members of that organization.
2. A communication in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of a radio station, television station, cable television system, or satellite system, unless the facilities are owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate. A news story distributed through the facilities owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate may nevertheless be exempt if it represents a bona fide news account communicated through a licensed broadcasting facility and the communication is part of a general pattern of campaign-related news accounts that give reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates in the area.
3. A communication that constitutes a public debate or forum that includes at least two opposing candidates for an office or one advocate and one opponent of an issue, or that solely promotes such a debate or forum and is made by or on behalf of the person sponsoring the debate or forum, provided that:
a. The staging organization is either:
(I) A charitable organization that does not make other electioneering communications and does not otherwise support or oppose any political candidate or political party; or
(II) A newspaper, radio station, television station, or other recognized news medium; and
b. The staging organization does not structure the debate to promote or advance one candidate or issue position over another.
(c) For purposes of chapter 106, an expenditure made for, or in furtherance of, an electioneering communication is not considered a contribution to or on behalf of any candidate.
(d) For purposes of this chapter, an electioneering communication does not constitute an independent expenditure and is not subject to the limitations applicable to independent expenditures.
10. Definition for Electioneering Communications Organization
Any group, other than a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee, whose election-related activities are limited to making expenditures for electioneering communications or accepting contributions for the purpose of making electioneering communications and whose activities would not otherwise require the group to register as a political party or political committee under this chapter. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(9).
11. Definition for Issue
A proposition that is required by the State Constitution, by law or resolution of the Legislature, or by the charter, ordinance, or resolution of a political subdivision of this state to be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection at an election, or a proposition for which a petition is circulated in order to have such proposition placed on the ballot at an election. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(13).
12. Definition for Ballot
As used in the Electronic Voting Systems Act, ballot means the card, tape, or other vehicle upon which the elector’s choices are recorded. Fla. Stat. § 101.5603(2).
13. Definition for Person
An individual or a corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. Fla. Stat. § 106.011(14).
14. Definition for Division
The Division of Elections of the Department of State. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(8).
15. Definition for Election
Any primary election, special primary election, special election, general election, or presidential preference primary election. Fla. Stat. § 97.021(12).
16. Definition for Purchase
As used in ss. 101.292-101.295, “purchase” means a contract for the purchase, lease, rental, or other acquisition of voting equipment. Fla. Stat. § 101.292(3).
17. Definition for Candidate
Any person to whom any one or more of the following applies:
Case Name: In re Turner
Citation: 76 So.3d 898
Case Summary: In re Turner held that Judge Turner violated 106.08 by asking for and accepting a $30,000 loan from his mother, which was substantially in excess of the $500 limit on individual campaign contributions, and which was received after the cut-off date.
Case Name: In re Colodny
Citation: 51 So.3d 430
Case Summary: In re Colodny held that Judge Colodny had to pay a $5,000 fine and receive a public reprimand after listing contributions totaling $125,000 as loans made by her were actually discovered to be loans from her father, which violated the 106.08 contribution limits.
Case Name: In re Renke
Citation: 933 So.2d 482
Case Summary: In re Renke held that Judge Renke was to be removed from the bench after misrepresenting his endorsements and experiences in campaign flyers and accepting contributions from his father in violation of 106.08 and 106.19.
Case Name: Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar
Citation: 135 S. Ct. 1656
Federal District Court:
Case Summary: Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar held that Florida had a compelling state interest in adopting a rule prohibiting judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds and that the rule was narrowly tailored, allowing it to pass First Amendment scrutiny.
Case Name: Worley v. Florida Secretary of State
Citation: 717 F.3d 1238
Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court
Case Summary: Worley v. Florida Secretary of State held that Florida's disclosure and disclaimer requirements in its campaign finance statutes were constitutional.
Case Name: Scott v. Roberts
Citation: 612 F.3d 1279
Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court
Case Summary: Scott v. Roberts held that because the candidate not participating in the state's public financing scheme established that he was entitled to a preliminary injunction, since his claim regarding the state's public financing system was likely to be successful on the merits, the state was preliminarily enjoined from releasing public funds to the participating candidate.
Case Name: Randall v. Sorrell
Citation: 548 U.S. 230
Federal District Court:
Case Summary: Randall v. Sorrell held that Vermont's expenditure limits were unconstitutional under Buckley v. Valeo. Further, Vermont's contribution limits were too restrictive and not narrowly tailored.
Case Name: Florida Right to Life, Inc. v. Lamar
Citation: 273 F.3d 1318
Federal Circuit Court: 11th Circuit Court
Case Summary: Florida Right to Life, Inc. v. Lamar held that the challenged provision preventing candidates from making contributions to certain organizations created a blanket rule that applied unless the circumstances fell within one of three exceptions listed in s. 106.08(5).
Regulations & Guidance
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 100, Political committees
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 104, Contributions
Fla. Jur. 2d Elections s 220, Offenses relating to campaign financing-Making contribution exceeding prescribed limit; failure or refusal to return contribution
Fla. Jur. 2d Records and Recording Acts s 131, Miscellaneous records
Am. Jur. 2d Judges s 19, Grounds
Constitutional Validity of State or Local Regulation of Contributions by or to Political Action Committees, 24 A.L.R.6th 179
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:71, Overview
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:81, Who may make contributions or expenditures-individuals
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:82, Who may make contributions or expenditures-PACs, corporations, lobbyists’ principals, etc.
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:83, Limits on contributions or expenditures-Individuals
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:84, Limits on contributions or expenditures-PACs, corporations, lobbyists’ principals, etc.
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:85, When contributions or expenditures may be made-Individuals
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:89, Prohibited practices-Individuals
Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance s 11:91, Contributions or expenditures to political parties; issue advocacy; corporate activity on referenda; independent expenditures
Political Activity, Lobbying Laws, and Gift Rules Guide s 11:2, Contribution restrictions