§ 163-278.12C. Special reporting of electioneering communications.
Overview of Statute
Section mandates that every person incurring an expense or receiving donation for producing or airing electronic communications aggregating in excess of $5,000 must file reports with the appropriate board of elections no later than 10 days following such an expense.
(a) Every individual or person that incurs an expense for the direct costs of producing or airing electioneering communications aggregating in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000) shall file the following reports with the appropriate board of elections in the manner prescribed by the State Board of Elections:
(1) The identification of the individual or person incurring the expense, of any individual or person sharing or exercising direction or control over the activities of that individual or person, and of the custodian of the books and accounts of the individual or person incurring the expense.
(2) The principal place of business of the person incurring the expense, if not an individual.
(3) The amount of each expense incurred during the period covered by the statement and the identification of the individual or person to whom the expense was incurred.
(4) The elections to which the electioneering communications pertain, if any, and the names, if known, of the candidates identified or to be identified.
(5) The names and addresses of all entities that donated, to further an electioneering communication or electioneering communications, funds or anything of value whatsoever in an aggregate amount of more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) during the reporting period. If the donor is an individual, the statement shall also contain the principal occupation of the donor. The “principal occupation of the donor” shall mean the same as the “principal occupation of the contributor” in G.S. 163-278.11.
(b) The initial report shall be filed with the State Board no later than the 10th day following the day the individual or person incurs an expense for the direct costs of producing or airing an electioneering communication. The State Board shall require subsequent reporting according to the same schedule required of political committees under G.S. 163-278.9(a). An individual or person that produces or airs an electioneering communication shall disclose by report to the State Board within 48 hours of incurring an expense of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or more or receiving a donation of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more for making an electioneering communication before an election but after the period covered by the last report due before that election.
(c) For the purposes of subdivision (a)(5) of this section, a donation to the person or entity making the electioneering communication is deemed to have been donated to further the electioneering communication if any of subdivisions (1) through (4) of this subsection apply. For purposes of this subsection, the “filer” is the person or entity making the electioneering communication and responsible for filing the report, or an agent of that person or entity. For purposes of this subsection, the “donor” is the person or entity donating to the filer the funds or other thing of value, or an agent of that person or entity.
(1) The donor designates, requests, or suggests that the donation be used for an electioneering communication or electioneering communications, and the filer agrees to use the donation for that purpose.
(2) The filer expressly solicited the donor for a donation for making or paying for an electioneering communication.
(3) The donor and the filer engaged in substantial written or oral discussion regarding the donor’s making, donating, or paying for an electioneering communication.
(4) The donor or the filer knew or had reason to know of the filer’s intent to make electioneering communication with the donation.
A donation shall not be deemed to be made to further an electioneering communication if the donation was a commercial transaction occurring in the ordinary course of business between the donor and the filer unless there is affirmative evidence that the amounts were donated to further an electioneering communication. In determining the amount of a donation that was made to further any particular electioneering communication, there shall be excluded any amount that was designated by the donor with respect to a different election than the election that is the subject of the electioneering communication covered by the report.
(d) All reports required by this section shall be filed according to rules adopted by the State Board. If the expense incurred is greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000), the report shall be filed electronically. The State Board shall provide the software necessary to file the electronic report to any individual or person required to file an electronic report at no cost to that individual or person.
(2010-170, s. 3; 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)
- Campaign Finance
1. Definition for individual
The term “individual” means a single individual or more than one individual.
2. Definition for political committee
The term “political committee” means a combination of two or more individuals, such as any person, committee, association, organization, or other entity that makes, or accepts anything of value to make, contributions or expenditures and has one or more of the following characteristics:
a. Is controlled by a candidate;
b. Is a political party or executive committee of a political party or is controlled by a political party or executive committee of a political party;
c. Is created by a corporation, business entity, insurance company, labor union, or professional association pursuant to G.S. 163A-1436(d); or
d. Has the major purpose to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates; [or]
e. Is an affiliated party committee. Supporting or opposing the election of clearly identified candidates includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a clearly identified political party. If the entity qualifies as a “political committee” under sub-subdivision a., b., c., or d. of this subdivision, it continues to be a political committee if it receives contributions or makes expenditures or maintains assets or liabilities. A political committee ceases to exist when it winds up its operations, disposes of its assets, and files its final report. The term “political committee” includes the campaign of a candidate who serves as his or her own treasurer. Special definitions of “political action committee” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.
3. Definition for electioneering communication
(41) The term “electioneering communication” means any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication, or mass mailing, or telephone bank that has all the following characteristics:
a. Refers to a clearly identified candidate for elected office.
b. In the case of the general election in November of the even-numbered year is aired or transmitted after September 7 of that year, and in the case of any other election is aired or transmitted within 60 days of the time set for absentee voting to begin pursuant to G.S. 163A-1300, 163A-1301, 163A-1302, 163A-1303, and 163A-1304 in an election for that office.
c. May be received by either:
1. 50,000 or more individuals in the State in an election for statewide office or 7,500 or more individuals in any other election if in the form of broadcast, cable, or satellite communication.
2. 20,000 or more households, cumulative per election, in a statewide election or 2,500 households, cumulative per election, in any other election if in the form of mass mailing or telephone bank.
(43) The term “electioneering communication” does not include any of the following:
a. A communication appearing in a news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, unless those facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, affiliated party committee, political committee, or candidate.
b. A communication that constitutes an expenditure or independent expenditure under this Article.
c. A communication that constitutes a candidate debate or forum conducted pursuant to rules adopted by the Board or that solely promotes that debate or forum and is made by or on behalf of the person sponsoring the debate or forum.
d. A communication made while the General Assembly is in session which, incidental to advocacy for or against a specific piece of legislation pending before the General Assembly, urges the audience to communicate with a member or members of the General Assembly concerning that piece of legislation or a solicitation of others as defined in G.S. 163A-250(a)(36) properly reported under Article 8 of this Chapter.
e. A communication that meets all of the following criteria:
1. Does not mention any election, candidacy, political party, opposing candidate, or voting by the general public.
2. Does not take a position on the candidate’s character or qualifications and fitness for office.
3. Proposes a commercial transaction.
f. A public opinion poll conducted by a news medium, as defined in G.S. 8-53.11(a)(3), conducted by an organization whose primary purpose is to conduct or publish public opinion polls, or contracted for by a person to be conducted by an organization whose primary purpose is to conduct or publish public opinion polls. This sub-subdivision shall not apply to a push poll. For the purpose of this sub-subdivision, “push poll” shall mean the political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a public opinion poll.
g. A communication made by a news medium, as defined in G.S. 8-53.11(a)(3), if the communication is in print.
4. Definition for day
The term “day” means calendar day.
5. Definition for made
A contribution is “made” during regular session if the check or other instrument is dated during the session, or if the check or other instrument is delivered to the limited contributee during session, or if the limited contributor pledges during the session to deliver the check or other instrument at a later time.
6. Definition for board
The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.
7. Definition for Board
Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.
8. Definition for State
“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
9. Definition for person
The term “person” means any business entity, corporation, insurance company, labor union, or professional association.
10. Definition for election
The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.
11. Definition for Election
“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.
12. Definition for Business
Business. – Any of the following organized for profit:
b. Business trust.
e. Joint venture.
i. Vested trust.
j. Every other business interest, including ownership or use of land for
13. Definition for candidate
The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination, retention, or election to public office. Examples of positive action include any of the following:
a. Filing a notice of candidacy, filing a notice to be retained, or a petition requesting to be a candidate.
b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy.
c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law.
d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election.
e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value. Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.
14. Definition for principal
Lobbyist principal and principal. – The person or governmental unit on whose
behalf the lobbyist lobbies and who makes payment for the lobbying. In the
case where a lobbyist is paid by a law firm, consulting firm, or other entity
retained by a person or governmental unit for lobbying, the principal is the
person or governmental unit whose interests the lobbyist represents in
lobbying. In the case of a lobbyist employed or retained by an association or
other organization, the lobbyist principal is the association or other
organization, not the individual members of the association or other
The term “lobbyist principal” shall not include those designating
registered liaison personnel under Part 5 of this Article.
15. Definition for Committee
Committee. – The Legislative Ethics Committee as created in Part 3 of Article
14 of Chapter 120 of the General Statutes.
16. Definition for Candidate
“Candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has filed a notice of candidacy, notice of retention, or a petition requesting to be a candidate, or has been certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy, or has otherwise qualified as a candidate in a manner authorized by law, or has filed a statement of organization under G.S. 163A-1412 and is required to file periodic financial disclosure statements under G.S. 163A-1418.