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North Carolina > Elections And Election Laws > Regulation of Election Campaigns - Corrupt Practices and Other Offenses Against the Elective Franchise (§ § 163-259 through 163-278.329) In General (§ § 163-278.5 through 163-278.38y) Article 22A. Regulating Contributions and Expenditures in Political Campaigns (§ § 163-1 through 163-7)

§ 163-278.13. Limitation on Contributions.

Overview of Statute

Section limits any individual, political committee, or other entity to contribute no more than $5,100 for that election, nor shall any candidate or political committee accept a contribution in excess $5,100 unless from the candidate’s spouse or from an entity knowing that the contribution is to be reimbursed to the entity.

Statute

(a) No individual, political committee, or other entity shall contribute to any candidate or other political committee any money or make any other contribution in any election in excess of five thousand two hundred dollars ($5,200) for that election.

(b) Effective for each odd-numbered calendar year beginning in 2015, the dollar amount of the contribution limitation established by subsections (a), (c), and (d) of this subsection shall be increased as provided in this subsection. On July 1 of each even-numbered year, the State Board of Elections shall calculate from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor Register the percent difference between the price index for the July 1 of the previous even-numbered year. That percentage increase shall be multiplied by the previous dollar amount contribution limit, that number added to the previous dollar amount contribution limit, and the total shall become effective with respect to contributions made or accepted on or after January 1 of the next odd-numbered year. If the amount after adjustment is not a multiple of one hundred dollars ($100.00), the total shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of one hundred dollars ($100.00). As used in this subsection the term “price index” means the average over a calendar year of the Consumer Price Index (all items–United States city average) published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The revised amount of the dollar limit of contributions shall remain in effect for two calendar years until the next adjustment is made. The State Board of Elections shall publish the revised amount in the North Carolina Register and shall notify the Revisor of Statutes who shall adjust the dollar amounts in subsections (a), (c), and (d) of this section.

(c) No candidate or political committee shall accept or solicit any contribution from any individual, other political committee, or other entity of any money or any other contribution in any election in excess of five thousand two hundred dollars ($5,200) for that election.

(d) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (c) of this section, it shall be lawful for a candidate or a candidate’s spouse to make a contribution to the candidate or to the candidate’s treasurer of any amount of money or to make any other contribution in any election in excess of five thousand two hundred dollars ($5,200) for that election.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term “an election” means the period of time from January 1 of an odd-numbered year through the day of the primary, the day after the primary through the day of the second primary, or the day after the primary through December 31 of the next even-numbered year, without regard to whether the candidate is opposed or unopposed in the election, except that where a candidate is not on the ballot in a second primary, that second primary is not “an election” with respect to that candidate.

(f) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (c) of this section, a candidate or political committee may accept a contribution knowing that the contribution is to be reimbursed to the entity making the contribution and knowing the candidate or political committee has funds sufficient to reimburse the entity making the contribution if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The entity submits sufficient information of the contribution to the candidate or political committee for reimbursement within 45 days of the contribution.

(2) The candidate or political committee makes a reimbursement to the entity making the contribution within seven days of submission of sufficient information.

(3) The candidate or political committee indicates on its report under G.S. 163-278.11 that the good, service, or other item resulting in the reimbursement is an expenditure of the candidate or political committee, and notes if the contribution was by credit card.

(4) The contribution does not exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

(g) Any contribution, or portion thereof, made under subsection (f) of this section that is not submitted for reimbursement in accordance with subsection (f) of this section shall be treated as a contribution for purposes of this section. Any contribution, or portion thereof, made under subsection (f) of this section that is not reimbursed in accordance with subsection (f) of this section shall be treated as a contribution for purposes of this section.

(h) This section shall not apply to any national, State, district or county executive committee of any political party or an affiliated party committee. For the purposes of this section only, the term “political party” means only those political parties officially recognized under G.S. 163-96.

(i) No referendum committee which received any contribution from a corporation, labor union, insurance company, business entity, or professional association may make any contribution to another referendum committee, to a candidate or to a political committee.

(j) The contribution limits of subsections (a) and (c) of this section do not apply to contributions made to an independent expenditure political committee. For purposes of this section, an “independent expenditure political committee” is a political committee whose treasurer makes and abides by a certification to the State Board of Elections that the political committee does not and will not make contributions, directly or indirectly, to candidates or to political committees that make contributions to candidates. The State Board of Elections shall provide forms for implementation of this subsection. This subsection shall not apply to a candidate or a political committee controlled by a candidate. The exception of this subsection is in addition to any other exception provided by law.

(1973, c. 1272, s. 1; 1979, c. 1073, ss. 8, 20; 1981, c. 225; 1987, c. 565, s. 15; 1993, c. 539, s. 1113; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1997-515, s. 8(a); 1999-31, s. 5(c); 2002-158, s. 2; 2006-192, ss. 15, 16, 17; 2007-391, s. 36; 2007-484, s. 43.8(c); 2007-510, s. 1(c); 2007-540, ss. 2, 3; 2008-150, ss. 6(c), 7(a); 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2013-360, s. 21.1(e), (f); 2013-381, ss. 38.1(h), (i), (j), 42.1, 42.2, 42.3, 53.1(a); 2015-258, s. 3(h); 2015-264, s. 27; 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)

 

Editors’ Notes

The maximum contribution limitation as of January 1, 2019 is $5,400 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020. Pursuant to (a1) of this section, the contribution limitation amounts found in subsections (a), (b), and (c) should be revised from “five thousand one hundred dollars ($5,100)” to “five thousand four hundred dollars ($5,400)”, and may change again effective January 1 of every odd-numbered year.

In a letter dated December 6, 2016, the North Carolina Board of elections notified the Revisor of Statutes that, pursuant to subsection (a1) of this section, the contribution limitation amounts found in subsections (a), (b), and (c) should be revised from “five thousand one hundred dollars ($5,100)” to “five thousand two hundred dollars ($5,200)”, effective January 1, 2017, and remaining in effect through December 31, 2018.

Definition [contribute]

The terms “contribute” or “contribution” mean any advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, gift, pledge or subscription of money or anything of value whatsoever, made to, or in coordination with, a candidate to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates, to a political committee, to a political party, to an affiliated party committee, or to a referendum committee, whether or not made in an election year, and any contract, agreement, or other obligation to make a contribution. An expenditure forgiven by a person or entity to whom it is owed shall be reported as a contribution from that person or entity. These terms include, without limitation, such contributions as labor or personal services, postage, publication of campaign literature or materials, in-kind transfers, loans or use of any supplies, office machinery, vehicles, aircraft, office space, or similar or related services, goods, or personal or real property. These terms also include, without limitation, the proceeds of sale of services, campaign literature and materials, wearing apparel, tickets or admission prices to campaign events such as rallies or dinners, and the proceeds of sale of any campaign-related services or goods. Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the word shall not be construed to include services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee. The term “contribution” does not include an “independent expenditure.” If:

a. Any individual, person, committee, association, or any other organization or group of individuals, including but not limited to, a political organization (as defined in section 527(e)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) makes, or contracts to make, any disbursement for any electioneering communication, as defined in this section; and

b. That disbursement is coordinated with a candidate, an authorized political committee of that candidate, a State or local political party or committee of that party, an affiliated party committee, or an agent or official of any such candidate, party, or committee that disbursement or contracting shall be treated as a contribution to the candidate supported by the electioneering communication or that candidate’s party and as an expenditure by that candidate or that candidate’s party.

§ 163A-1411 (13). Definitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definition [referendum]

The term “referendum” means any question, issue, or act referred to a vote of the people of the entire State by the General Assembly, a unit of local government, or by the people under any applicable local act and includes constitutional amendments and State bond issues. The term “referendum” includes any type of municipal, county, or special district referendum and any initiative or referendum authorized by a municipal charter or local act. A recall election shall not be considered a referendum within the meaning of this Article.

§ 163A-1411 (82). Definitions.

Definition [Referendum]

“Referendum” means the event in which voters cast votes for or against ballot questions other than the election of candidates to office.

§ 163A-1095 (7). Definitions

Definition [corporation]

The term “corporation” means any corporation established under either domestic or foreign charter, and includes a corporate subsidiary and any business entity in which a corporation participates or is a stockholder, a partner or a joint venturer. The term applies regardless of whether the corporation does business in the State of North Carolina.

§ 163A-1411 (24). Definitions.

Definition [expenditure]

The terms “expend” or “expenditure” mean any purchase, advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, gift, pledge or subscription of money or anything of value whatsoever, whether or not made in an election year, and any contract, agreement, or other obligation to make an expenditure, to support or oppose the nomination, election, or passage of one or more clearly identified candidates, or ballot measure. An expenditure forgiven by a person or entity to whom it is owed shall be reported as a contribution from that person or entity. Supporting or opposing the election of clearly identified candidates includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a clearly identified political party. The term “expenditure” also includes any payment or other transfer made by a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee.

§ 163A-1411 (51). Definitions.

Definition [labor union]

The term “labor union” means any union, organization, combination or association of employees or workmen formed for the purposes of securing by united action favorable wages, improved labor conditions, better hours of labor or work-related benefits, or for handling, processing or righting grievances by employees against their employers, or for representing employees collectively or individually in dealings with their employers. The term includes any unions to which Article 10, Chapter 95 applies.

§ 163A-1411 (59). Definitions.

Definition [Expenditure]

Expenditure. – An expenditure means any purchase, advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, gift,pledge, subscription of money, anything of value whatsoever, and any contract, agreement, promise, or other obligation to make an expenditure, by a legal defense fund for a permitted use as provided in G.S. 163A-1570. An expenditure forgiven by a person or entity to whom it is owed shall be reported as a legal expense donation.

§ 163A-1550 (3). Definitions.

Definition [contribution]

The terms “contribute” or “contribution” mean any advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, gift, pledge or subscription of money or anything of value whatsoever, made to, or in coordination with, a candidate to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates, to a political committee, to a political party, to an affiliated party committee, or to a referendum committee, whether or not made in an election year, and any contract, agreement, or other obligation to make a contribution. An expenditure forgiven by a person or entity to whom it is owed shall be reported as a contribution from that person or entity. These terms include, without limitation, such contributions as labor or personal services, postage, publication of campaign literature or materials, in-kind transfers, loans or use of any supplies, office machinery, vehicles, aircraft, office space, or similar or related services, goods, or personal or real property. These terms also include, without limitation, the proceeds of sale of services, campaign literature and materials, wearing apparel, tickets or admission prices to campaign events such as rallies or dinners, and the proceeds of sale of any campaign-related services or goods. Notwithstanding the foregoing meanings of “contribution,” the word shall not be construed to include services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee. The term “contribution” does not include an “independent expenditure.” If:

a. Any individual, person, committee, association, or any other organization or group of individuals, including but not limited to, a political organization (as defined in section 527(e)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) makes, or contracts to make, any disbursement for any electioneering communication, as defined in this section; and

b. That disbursement is coordinated with a candidate, an authorized political committee of that candidate, a State or local political party or committee of that party, an affiliated party committee, or an agent or official of any such candidate, party, or committee that disbursement or contracting shall be treated as a contribution to the candidate supported by the electioneering communication or that candidate’s party and as an expenditure by that candidate or that candidate’s party.

 

§ 163A-1411 (13). Definitions.

 

 

 

 

Definition [United States]

“United States,” used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

§ 163A-1336 (8). Definitions.

Definition [business entity]

The term “business entity” means any partnership, joint venture, joint-stock company, company, firm, or any commercial or industrial establishment or enterprise.

§ 163A-1411 (7). Definitions.

Definition [political party]

The term “political party” means any political party organized or operating in this State, whether or not that party is recognized under the provisions of G.S. 163A-950. A special definition of “political party organization” that applies only in Part 2 of this Article is set forth in G.S. 163A-1475. An affiliated party committee is deemed a political party for this Article as set forth in G.S. 163A-1416 and G.S. 163A-1417.

§ 163A-1411 (76). Definitions.

Definition [insurance company]

The term “insurance company” means any person whose business is making or underwriting contracts of insurance, and includes mutual insurance companies, stock insurance companies, and fraternal beneficiary associations.

§ 163A-1411 (57). Definitions.

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1411 (74). Definitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definition [referendum committee]

The term “referendum committee” means a combination of two or more individuals such as a committee, association, organization, or other entity or a combination of two or more business entities, corporations, insurance companies, labor unions, or professional associations such as a committee, association, organization, or other entity the primary purpose of which is to support or oppose the passage of any referendum on the ballot. If the entity qualifies as a “referendum committee” under this subdivision, it continues to be a referendum committee if it receives contributions or makes expenditures or maintains assets or liabilities. A referendum committee ceases to exist when it winds up its operations, disposes of its assets, and files its final report.

§ 163A-1411 (84). Definitions.

Definition [independent expenditure]

The term “independently expend” or “independent expenditure” means an expenditure to support or oppose the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates that is not a coordinated expenditure. Supporting or opposing the election of clearly identified candidates includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a clearly identified political party. A contribution is not an independent expenditure. As applied to referenda, the term “independent expenditure” applies if consultation or coordination does not take place with a referendum committee that supports a ballot measure the expenditure supports, or a referendum committee that opposes the ballot measure the expenditure opposes.

§ 163A-1411 (53). Definitions.

Definition [professional association]

The term “professional association” means any trade association, group, organization, association, or collection of persons or individuals formed for the purposes of advancing, representing, improving, furthering or preserving the interests of persons or individuals having a common vocation, profession, calling, occupation, employment, or training.

§ 163A-1411 (78). Definitions.

Definition [affiliated party committee]

The term “affiliated party committee” means a General Assembly affiliated party committee as established by G.S. 163A-1416 or Council of State affiliated party committee as established by G.S. 163A-1417.

§ 163A-1411 (1).  Definitions.

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1411 (3). Definitions.

 

 

 

 

Definition [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.

§ 163A-152 (3). Definitions

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1336 (5). Definitions.

Definition [expend]

The terms “expend” or “expenditure” mean any purchase, advance, conveyance, deposit, distribution, transfer of funds, loan, payment, gift, pledge or subscription of money or anything of value whatsoever, whether or not made in an election year, and any contract, agreement, or other obligation to make an expenditure, to support or oppose the nomination, election, or passage of one or more clearly identified candidates, or ballot measure. An expenditure forgiven by a person or entity to whom it is owed shall be reported as a contribution from that person or entity. Supporting or opposing the election of clearly identified candidates includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a clearly identified political party. The term “expenditure” also includes any payment or other transfer made by a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee.

§ 163A-1411 (51). Definitions.

Definition [Ballot]

(Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term “ballot” may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic
scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.

(Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal, and is evidenced by an individual paper document that bears marks made by the voter by hand or through electronic
means, whether preprinted or printed in the voting enclosure.

§ 163A-1095 (1). Definitions.

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1411 (30). Definitions.

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1095 (4). Definition

Definition [Business]

Business. – Any of the following organized for profit:
a. Association.
b. Business trust.
c. Corporation.
d. Enterprise.
e. Joint venture.
f. Organization.
g. Partnership.
h. Proprietorship.
i. Vested trust.
j. Every other business interest, including ownership or use of land for
income.

§ 163A-152 (5). Definitions.

Definition [accepted]

contribution is “accepted” during regular session if the check or other instrument is dated during the session, or if the limited contributee receives the check or other instrument during session and does not return it within 10 days, or agrees during session to receive the check or other instrument at a later time.

§ 163A-1426. Limitation on fund-raising during legislative session. (a) Definitions (5)

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1411 (9). Definitions.

Definition [treasurer]

The term “treasurer” means an individual appointed by a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee as provided in G.S. 163A-1412 or G.S. 163A-1496. (1973, c. 1272, s. 1; 1975, c. 798, ss. 5, 6; 1979, c. 500, s. 1; c. 1073, ss. 1-3, 19, 20; 1981, c. 837, s. 1; 1983, c. 331, s. 6; 1985, c. 352, ss. 1-3; 1997-515, ss. 4(a)-(c), 7(b)-(d); 1999-31, ss. 1(a), (b), 2(a)-(c), 3, 4(a); 1999-424, s. 6(a), (b); 2002-159, s. 55(n); 2003-278, s. 5; 2004-125, s. 3; 2004-127, s. 15; 2004-203, s. 12(b); 2005-430, s. 10; 2006-264, s. 23; 2007-391, s. 3; 2008-150, s. 6(a); 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2009-534, ss. 1, 3(a), (b); 2010-170, s. 1; 2011-31, s. 20; 2013-381, s. 50.1; 2015-66, s. 8(a); 2015-258, ss. 3(b), (b1); 2015-264, ss. 81(c), (d); 2017-6, s. 3.)

§ 163A-1411 (95). Definitions.

Definition [Committee]

Committee. – The Legislative Ethics Committee as created in Part 3 of Article
14 of Chapter 120 of the General Statutes.

§ 163A-152 (11). Definitions.

Definition [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.

§ 163A-1475 (2). Definitions.

Cases

North Carolina Cases

Case Name: State v. Bolt

Citation: 344 S.E.2d 51

Year: 1986

Case PDF: State v. Bolt

Case Summary: Statute governing prosecution for violations of article within election laws regulating contributions and expenditures in political campaigns is clearly mandatory in its language.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Case Name: Jackson v. Leake

Citation: 476 F. Supp.2d 515

Federal District Court: Eastern District of North Carolina

Year: 2006

Case PDF: Jackson v. Leake

Case Summary: First Amendment challenge to statute that provides for public financing of candidates for judicial office, imposes reporting requirements on candidates choosing not to participate in public financing, and provides for supplemental "rescue" payments to candidates accepting financing when opponents reject financing. Likelihood of succeeding on merits requirement to issue a preliminary injunction was not satisfied because the provisions did not affect hte abilityh of nonparticipating candidates to spend their own money or raise it from sources other than those narrowly tailored to advance public concerns of integrity of elections.

Case Name: North Carolina Right to Life, Inc. v. Leake

Citation: 525 F.3d 274

Federal Circuit Court: 4th Circuit Court

Year: 2008

Case PDF: 525_F.3d_274

Case Summary: The Court of Appeals held that “context” provision was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague; statutory definition of regulable “political committee” also violated First Amendment on its face; and dollar limit on campaign contributions infringed First Amendment when applied to independent-expenditure political committee.