In Search of… A GOOD Campaign Treasurer
Every political committee must designate a treasurer before it can accept contributions or make expenditures. The committee must designate a treasurer on the Statement of Organization.
Treasurers must ensure committee reports and statements are complete, accurate and timely. This is a significant responsibility—if there’s an enforcement action against a committee, the treasurer is usually named as a respondent. Treasurers can be found officially liable for the actions they take.
- Sign and file all committee reports and statements.
- Deposit receipts in the committee’s designated bank within 10 days of receipt.
- Authorize expenditures or appoint someone else (orally or in writing) to authorize expenditures.
- Monitor contributions, ensuring they comply with legal limits and prohibitions.
- Keep records of receipts and disbursements for three years from the filing date of the report to which they relate.
A candidate cannot choose to act as his or her own committee treasurer.
GOOD CAMPAIGN TREASURER
The critical reason why you need to find a good campaign treasurer is that fastest way a candidate for elected office can get into trouble is with money.
Now I’m not talking about stealing money from the campaign account or using campaign funds for personal purposes, though that does happen and gets people into a lot of trouble. The type of trouble I’m referring to here is the kind that honest candidates can get themselves into that involves their campaign financial disclosure statements. While many candidates running for local office think they handle their own reporting, it is a huge mistake to do so. There are many filing and disclosure laws, and they are nuanced. Making an unintentional mistake in reporting is easy and common.
Yes, you may be saving a few bucks by filling out the forms yourself, or having your spouse for friend do it, but you may pay for it later — in both time and money. Inaccurate campaign finance disclosure statements can lead to governmental investigations and inquiries. Errors sustained can result in stiff financial penalties, sometimes worse. That’s why I always want the candidates I consult for to hire a professional campaign treasurer. It avoids a lot of headaches and a lot of problems.
Consequences of a Subpar Treasurer
You could get hit with a large fine, embarrass your campaign or you could go to JAIL. In Maryland, just within the past 20 years we have had a candidates use campaign money to fund their own vacations, weddings, buying personal tech, taking friends out to dinner on campaign dollars, and more. All of these things are WRONG. You can use campaign funds for official campaign related expenses. Taking your friends out to dinner isn’t a legitimate campaign expense. Note all of the campaigns that engaged in the risky business of playing fast and loose with campaign funds all had one thing in common, other than all being Democrats. They all had relatives or friends as treasurers who had ZERO experience in being a campaign treasurer.
In the coming weeks I will break down each of these areas in more details including templates, wire frames for websites, and a list of reputable consultants. I know I left off some stuff like campaign collateral, how to select a campaign manager, and so on. This week I covered the pitfalls of a non-professional treasurer. Next week we will discuss hiring a Campaign Manager.
I highly recommend attending campaign training at the Leadership Institute, I know the MDGOP and the Montgomery County Republican Club are doing several candidate and activist trainings that are highly recommended if you are thinking about running for office, want to help a candidate, or looking for a career as a campaign consultant. The first training for candidates will be held via Zoom, by the Montgomery County Republican Club and the MDGOP on Saturday, March 20, 2021 from 10-11:30 am. These trainings will be recorded and will be interactive.
If you have further questions or want to discuss the possibility of running for an office, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.