Federal Political Committees
N.C.G.S. § 163-278.7A permits a federal political committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission to make contributions to North Carolina candidate committees and North Carolina political committees so long as the federal political committee does all of the following:
- Registers with the North Carolina State Board of Elections;
- Complies with reporting requirements specified by the State Board;
- Makes its contributions within the limits specified in Article 22A of Chapter 163; and
- Appoints an assistant treasurer who is a resident of North Carolina and stipulates to the State Board that the North Carolina assistant treasurer shall be authorized to produce whatever records reflecting political activity in North Carolina the State Board deems necessary.
The State Board of Elections has adopted rule 08 NCAC 21 .0105 regarding federal political committee registration and reporting.
Reporting Requirements Under 08 NCAC 21 .0105
No later than the tenth day following a federal political committee’s contribution to a North Carolina candidate committee or North Carolina political committee, the federal political committee must register and report by filing the following with the State Board of Elections:
- CRO-4000 Federal Committee Statement of Organization. This form discloses basic information about the federal political committee including the federal ID number, type of committee and the name and contact information for the committee’s treasurer and North Carolina assistant treasurer.
- CRO-3500 Certification of Financial Accounts. This form discloses the bank accounts used by the federal political committee.
- An Organizational Disclosure Report comprised of the CRO-4100 Federal Political Committee NC Disclosure Cover and the CRO-4200 Federal Political Committee Report of Contributions to NC Political Committees. The federal political committee must file an organizational disclosure report which discloses all contributions not previously reported. The report discloses only the contributions made by the federal political committee in North Carolina. In lieu of the CRO-4200, a free electronic filing option is available. The treasurer must file an original signed copy of the CRO-4100. By signing, the treasurer certifies the report as true and correct.
A report, certification or other form is considered filed either:
- On the date it is received by hand-delivery during regular business hours at the State Board of Elections;
- On the date it is postmarked by the United State Postal Service or marked with an equivalent marking by a delivery service authorized by N.C.G.S. § 1A-1, Rule 4; or
- For a disclosure report that is filed electronically, on the date the completed data file is emailed to the State Board of Elections at email@example.com.
After the organizational disclosure report, a federal political committee must continue to file disclosure reports according to the schedule in N.C.G.S. § 163-278.9. In general, an active federal political committee must file semiannual reports in odd-numbered years and quarterly reports in even-numbered years. Disclosure reports must be filed even if the federal political committee makes no contributions in the reporting period. A biennial reporting schedule is available on the State Board of Elections’ website.
The State Board of Elections has developed and maintains free software that enables the storing of all campaign finance information and allows the committee to generate electronic disclosure reports. Political committees may also use third-party products that generate files that meet the file format requirements.
A federal political committee that shows a cumulative total of more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) in contributions to statewide candidates for an election cycle, or more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in contributions to non-statewide candidates for an election cycle, is required to file reports electronically consistent with 08 NCAC 21 .0106. For each report filed electronically, the treasurer must complete and sign the CRO-4100 Federal Committee NC Disclosure Report Cover and and mail or hand-deliver the signed original to the State Board of Elections.
Committees filing paper reports must file the CRO-4100 Federal Committee NC Disclosure Report Cover and CRO-4200 Federal Political Committee Report of Contributions to NC Political Commitees for each report by the due date.
A federal political committee that does not file a report by the due date will receive a late filing penalty. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.34(a).
If no contribution is made during a period described in N.C.G.S. § 163-278.9, the treasurer may certify the committee as inactive consistent with N.C.G.S. § 163-278.10. This certification is made by filing a CRO-3200 Certification of Inactive Status. An inactive committee is not required to file reports. Once a contribution is made, the federal political committee must resume reporting according to the reporting schedule in N.C.G.S. § 163-278.9.
A federal political committee may close its North Carolina registration if it plans to cease making contribution in the State. In order to close, the committee must file a final disclosure report and a CRO-3410 Certification to Close Federal Committee.
Federal Political Committees report contributions. What is a contribution in North Carolina? What do we report?
A contribution is 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, or 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. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.6(13).
A contribution includes in-kind transfers. An in-kind contribution is a non-monetary contribution, such as a good or service, made to a committee.
In accordance with 08 NCAC 21 .0105, for each contribution made, the federal political committee must report the following:
- The full name, mailing address, and phone number for each recipient of a contribution;
- The amount of each contribution;
- The form of payment;
- The date each contribution was made; and
- The total sum of all contributions to the recipient during the election.
A federal political committee makes its contributions within the limits specified in Article 22A.
No federal political committee may contribute in excess of the current contribution limit to a candidate committee or to a political committee in any election. Contributions limits in North Carolina are published at the beginning of each odd-numbered year and remain in place for the biennium. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.13(b). Limits are published in the North Carolina Register and can also be found on the State Board of Elections’ website. As of January 1, 2019, the contribution limit is $5,400.
If there is a primary and a general election, the federal political committee may give and the North Carolina candidate committee or political committee may receive, $5,400 between the beginning of the election cycle and the day of the primary, and $5,400 from the day after the primary through the end of the election year. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.13(e).
Any state, district or county executive committee of any political party recognized under N.C.G.S. § 163-96 is exempt from contribution limits. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.13(h). Please note that this exemption does not apply to subordinate groups. Subordinate groups, such as a Democratic Men’s Club or a Republican Women’s Club, are subject to contribution limits. Affiliated party committees organized under N.C.G.S. § 163-278.8A and N.C.G.S. § 163-278.8B are also exempt.
Federal political committees that employ or contract with a North Carolina lobbyist and federal political committees whose parent entity employs or contracts with a North Carolina lobbyist may not make contributions to candidates for and members of the Council of State and General Assembly while the North Carolina General Assembly is in regular session. For more information, please see N.C.G.S. § 163-278.13B.
What about Federal Super PACs or Federal Independent Expenditure-Only Political Committees?
Federal independent expenditure-only political committees may register and make contributions in North Carolina; however, all federal political committees must make contributions within the limits specified in Article 22A. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.13(j) limits contributions from independent expenditure committees to candidates or to political committees that make contributions to candidates. A federal independent expenditure-only political committee cannot make contributions to North Carolina candidates or to North Carolina political committees that make contributions to candidates. For a more detailed explanation, please see Written Opinion 2020-05-05.
A federal independent expenditure-only political committee may make unlimited contributions to a North Carolina independent expenditure political committee.
The registration and reporting requirements of N.C.G.S. § 163-278.7A only apply to federal political committees making contributions in North Carolina. The disclosure reports required by 08 NCAC 21. 0105 only disclose contributions to North Carolina political committees. What if a federal political committee wants to make independent expenditures in North Carolina?
A federal political committee may make independent expenditures in North Carolina. Federal political committees making independent expenditures in North Carolina operate as Independent Expenditure Filers and file disclosure reports consistent with N.C.G.S. § 163-278.12 and 08 NCAC 21 .0102.
Limitations in the current campaign finance software may not allow a federal political committee to file electronic reports both as a federal political committee consistent with 08 NCAC 21 .0105 and as an Independent Expenditure Filer consistent with 08 NCAC 21 .0102. The federal political committee should file electronic reports for the activity with the highest cumulative total of dollars spent for the election. All other reports should be filed in paper.
What about Hybrid PACs or Carey PACs?
North Carolina recognizes a federal hybrid PAC as a federal political committee registered with and classified by the FEC as a PAC maintaining separate contribution and non-contribution accounts. A federal independent expenditure-only political committee is not permitted to make contributions to North Carolina candidates or to North Carolina political committees that make contributions to candidates. Written Opinion 2020-05-05. However, in recognition of Carey v. Federal Election Comm’n, 791 F.Supp.2d 121 (2011), a federal hybrid PAC may make contributions to North Carolina candidates or to North Carolina political committees that make contributions to candidates so long as contributions are made from the federal hybrid PAC’s segregated contribution account subject to all the federal statutory amount limitations and source prohibitions. A federal hybrid PAC must make all contributions in accordance with N.C.G.S. § 163-278.7A.
A federal hybrid PAC that chooses to make both contributions and independent expenditures in North Carolina will register and report all contributions from its contribution account in accordance with N.C.G.S. § 163-278.7A and 08 NCAC 21 .0105 and disclose all reportable independent expenditures made as an Independent Expenditure Filer in accordance with N.C.G.S. § 163-278.12(a) and 08 NCAC 21 .0102.