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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)

§ 163-278.34. Civil penalties.

Overview of Statute

Section provides the following civil remedy procedures regarding the specific nature of the violation: (1) civil penalties for late filing; (2) civil penalties for illegal contributions and expenditures; (3) civil remedies other than penalties; and (4) the State Board must first consult with the district attorney,  and upon consultation, the Board shall calculate and assess the amount of the civil penalty and shall provide notice to the individual subject to the penalty.

Statute

(a) Civil Penalties for Late Filing.–Except as provided in G.S. 163-278.9 and G.S. 163-278.9A, all reports, statements or other documents required by this Article to be filed with the Board shall be filed either by manual delivery to or by mail addressed to the Board. Timely filing shall be complete if postmarked on the day the reports, statements or other documents are to be delivered to the Board. If a report, statement or other document is not filed within the time required by this Article, then the individual, person, media, candidate, political committee, referendum committee or treasurer responsible for filing shall pay to the State Board of Elections election enforcement costs and a civil late penalty as follows:

(1) Two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per day for each day the filing is late for a report that affects statewide elections, not to exceed a total of ten thousand dollars ($10,000); and

(2) Fifty dollars ($50.00) per day for each day the filing is late for a report that affects only nonstatewide elections, not to exceed a total of five hundred dollars ($500.00).

If the form is filed by mail, no civil late penalty shall be assessed for any day after the date of postmark. No civil late penalty shall be assessed for any day when the Board office at which the report is due is closed. The State Board shall immediately notify, or cause to be notified, late filers, from which reports are apparently due, by mail, of the penalties under this section. The State Board of Elections may waive a late penalty if it determines there is good cause for the waiver.

If the Board determines by clear and convincing evidence that the late filing constitutes a willful attempt to conceal contributions or expenditures, the Board may assess a civil penalty in an amount to be determined by that Board, plus the costs of investigation, assessment, and collection. The civil penalty shall not exceed three times the amount of the contributions and expenditures willfully attempted to be concealed.

(b) Civil Penalties for Illegal Contributions and Expenditures.–If an individual, person, political committee, referendum committee, candidate, or other entity intentionally makes or accepts a contribution or makes an unlawful expenditure in violation of this Article, then that entity shall pay to the State Board of Elections, in an amount to be determined by that Board, a civil penalty and the costs of investigation, assessment, and collection. The civil penalty shall not exceed three times the amount of the unlawful contribution or expenditure involved in the violation. The State Board of Elections may, in addition to the civil penalty, order that the amount unlawfully received be paid to the State Board by check, and any money so received by the State Board shall be deposited in the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund of North Carolina.

(c) Civil Remedies Other Than Penalties.–The State Board of Elections, in lieu of or in addition to imposing a civil penalty under subsection (a) or (b) of this section, may take one or more of the following actions with respect to a violation for which a civil penalty could be imposed:

(1) Issue an order requiring the violator to cease and desist from the violation found.

(2) Issue an order to cease receiving contributions and making expenditures until a delinquent report has been filed and any civil penalty satisfied.

(3) Issue an order requiring the violator to take any remedial action deemed appropriate by the Board.

(4) Issue an order requiring the violator to file any report, statement, or other information as required by this Article or the rules adopted by the Board.

(5) Publicly reprimand the violator for the violation.

(d) Facts in Mitigation.–An individual or other entity notified that a penalty has been assessed against it may submit an affidavit to the State Board of Elections stating the facts in mitigation. The State Board of Elections may waive a civil penalty in whole or in part if it determines there is good cause for the waiver.

(e) Calculation and Assessment.–The State Board shall calculate and assess the amount of the civil penalty due under subsection (a) or (b) of this section and shall notify the person who is assessed the civil penalty of the amount. The notice of assessment shall be served by any means authorized under G.S. 1A-1, Rule 4, and shall direct the violator either to pay the assessment or to contest the assessment within 30 days by filing a petition for a contested case under Article 3 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. If a violator does not pay a civil penalty assessed by the Board within 30 days after it is due, the Board shall request the Attorney General to institute a civil action to recover the amount of the assessment. The civil action may be brought in the superior court of any county where the report was due to be filed or any county where the violator resides or maintains an office. A civil action must be filed within three years of the date the assessment was due. An assessment that is not contested is due when the violator is served with a notice of assessment. An assessment that is contested is due at the conclusion of the administrative and judicial review of the assessment. The State Board of Elections shall pay the clear proceeds of civil penalties collected under this section to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund pursuant to G.S. 115C-457.2. The State Board of Elections shall reduce the monies collected by the enforcement costs and the collection costs to determine the clear proceeds payable to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund. Monies set aside for the costs of enforcement and the costs of collection shall be credited to accounts of the State Board of Elections.

(f) OAH Review.–After assessing a civil penalty under subsection (b) of this section or imposing a civil remedy under subsection (c) of this section, appeal of the decision of the State Board of Elections under this section shall be in accordance with Article 3 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.

(1973, c. 1272, s. 1; 1975, c. 565, s. 5; 1979, c. 1073, s. 19; 1997-515, s. 7(a); 2001-353, s. 10; 2001-419, s. 1; 2007-391, ss. 2(a), 37; 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-146, ss. 4.4(a), 3.1(a), (b).)

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 [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 [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 [enforcement costs]

The term “enforcement costs” means salaries, overhead, and other monies spent by the State Board in the enforcement of the penalties provisions of this Article, including the costs of investigators, attorneys, travel costs for State Board employees and its attorneys, to the extent the costs do not constitute more than fifty percent (50%) of the sum levied for the enforcement costs and civil late penalty.

§ 163A-1411 (49). Definitions.

Definition [costs of collection]

The term “costs of collection” means monies spent by the State Board in the collection of the penalties levied under this Article to the extent the costs do not constitute more than fifty percent (50%) of the civil penalty. The costs are presumed to be ten percent (10%) of the civil penalty unless otherwise determined by the State Board based on the records of expenses incurred by the State Board for its collection procedures.

§ 163A-1411 (26). 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 [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 [media]

The term “communications media” or “media” means broadcasting stations, carrier current stations, newspapers, magazines, periodicals, outdoor advertising facilities, billboards, newspaper inserts, and any person or individual whose business is polling public opinion, analyzing or predicting voter behavior or voter preferences. Special definitions of “print media,” “radio,” and “television” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.

§ 163A-1411 (11). 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 [person]

The term “person” means any business entity, corporation, insurance company, labor union, or professional association.

§ 163A-1411 (72). Definitions.

Definition [Office]

(4) Office. – The elected office for which the candidate has filed or petitioned.
(2006-155, s. 1; 2006-259, s. 48(a); 2017-6, s. 3.)

§ 163A-1025 (4). 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 [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.