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Questions Frequently Asked by Candidates

Question: I may run for office in Florida. When may I begin raising campaign funds?

A potential candidate may begin raising campaign funds at any time after filing with the appropriate filing officer and designating a campaign treasurer and bank.

Question: What are my responsibilities as a candidate for reporting campaign fund activities?

Each candidate is personally responsible for compliance with Chapter 106 requirements to designate a campaign treasurer, maintain records of contributions and expenditures and file campaign reports of contributions and expenditures with the appropriate filing officer. Failure to file a campaign report on the designated due date will result in a fine of $50 per day for the first three days late and, thereafter $500 per day for each late day, not to exceed 25% of total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater. Fines increase for campaign reports due immediately before a primary or general election.

Question: Where can I get required forms?

Chapter 106 forms, which are prescribed by the Secretary of State, are available from the Division of Elections and local supervisors of elections. NOTE: It is suggested that forms be obtained from the appropriate filing officer. 
 

Question: If I don’t collect or spend any money during a reporting period, do I still have to file a campaign treasurer’s report?

If you do not collect or spend any money during a reporting period, the filing of the required report for that period is waived. HOWEVER, the next report must specify that the report covers the entire period between the last submitted report and the report being filed. ALSO, the candidate that is not required to file a treasurer’s report must notify the filing officer in writing on due date of the report that no report is being filed since no contributions have been accepted and no expenditures made. Waiver of Report forms are used for this purpose. Failure to notify the filing officer on the designated due date will result in a fine.

Question: What are the maximum contribution limits in Florida? (see 106.08)

$1,000 (combination of monetary and/or in-kind)

  1. To a candidate for countywide office or to a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis, $1,000.

  2. To a candidate for legislative or multi-county office, $1,000.

  3. To a candidate for statewide office, $3,000.

  4. To a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge, $1,000.

  5. To a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal, $1,000.

  6. To a candidate for retention as a justice of the supreme court, $3,000.

NOTE: The contribution limits provided above do not apply to contributions made by state or executive committees of a political party or to amounts contributed by a candidate to his own campaign.

The limitations do apply to each election. The primary and general election are deemed separate elections as long as the candidate is not an unopposed candidate.

NOTE: No contributions may be received by a candidate or his treasurer after the date at which the candidate:

  1. Withdraws his candidacy.

  2. Becomes unopposed.

  3. Is elected to office or eliminated.
     

Question: What is an in-kind contribution?

An in-kind contribution is anything of value made for the purpose of influencing an election. In-kind contributions are subject to the $1,000 contribution limit. In-kind contributions are not actual money but rather goods or services provided that have a monetary value attached to them such as: printing services, wood for signs, office space, office equipment, etc.

Question: What is the cut-off date for an opposed candidate to receive a contribution prior to an election?

No later than midnight five (5) days prior to the election. For a Tuesday election the cut-off would be the Thursday prior to the election at midnight.

Question: Can I accept cash contributions?

Yes. Chapter 106 limits any single cash contribution or contribution by cashier’s check to no more than $50. This $50 limitation does not apply to personal or business checks and other things of value.

Question: Can I accept anonymous contributions?

No. Chapter 106 requires a candidate to maintain records of each contribution and its source.

Question: Must I have a disclaimer on my campaign advertisements?

Yes. Political disclaimer information is provided by the Division of Elections and the Supervisor of Elections.
(see 106.143)

Question: If I am elected, defeated, unopposed, or withdraw my candidacy, what must I do with surplus funds?

A candidate must dispose of surplus funds pursuant to Chapter 106.141. See 106.141 for the various methods allow able by law for disposing of surplus funds.

Question: May I continue to accept contributions to pay a campaign debt after I lose or win an election?

No. A candidate may not accept a contribution after he is defeated, becomes unopposed, or is elected to office. Only refunds, such as deposits, for example, deposits required for erecting signs, are permitted.

Question: Can I still accept contributions after I take office?

No. A candidate has 90 days to dispose of campaign funds in a campaign account after he becomes unopposed, withdraws or is elected. (see 106.141)

Question: If I am elected, when can I start raising campaign funds for re-election to the same office?

An office holder may begin raising campaign funds for reelection at any time after he/she has redesignated a campaign depository and renamed a treasurer for that future election by filing with the appropriate filing officer.

Question: Can I use campaign funds collected for election for one office if I decide to seek a different office?

Yes. A candidate is not prohibited from changing his office designation and using campaign funds for a new candidacy, HOWEVER, certain rules must be followed. See 106.021.

Question: Can I accept contributions from people who do not reside in Florida?

Yes. Chapter 106 Does not distinguish between Florida and non-Florida individuals for contribution purposes.

Question: Can I put my campaign funds in a savings account and earn interest on them?

Yes.

Question: I am a candidate and I am complying with Chapter 106 reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures. My opponent is refusing to file any reports. What can I do?

You may file a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission by requesting a complaint form from your local Supervisor of Elections or the Division of Elections. The sworn complaint must be filed with the Florida Elections Commission.

Question: Can two candidates have a fund raiser together?

There are no restrictions on two candidates having a fund raiser together as long as they adhere to all the requirements of Chapter 106 and keep track of individual contributions.

Question: Can a candidate be his/her own campaign treasurer?

A candidate may serve as his/her own campaign treasurer. (see 106.021) Campaigning is very demanding. We advise that a candidate appoint a treasurer , in addition to him/herself, known as a deputy treasurer.

Question: Who may serve as a campaign treasurer?

Any person who accepts appointment of such position may serve as campaign treasurer.

Question: Can a candidate make a contribution to a charity out of campaign funds?

No. However, he may make contributions to any charitable group for which he is a member or to which he has been a regular contributor from personal funds.

Question: If a candidate is receiving an in-kind  contribution of office space for his/her campaign and it exceeds the limits, what should he/she do?

The candidate may accept an in-kind contribution up to the limits. He/she could not accept anything over the limits. It is suggested that he/she pay for the office space after the limit is reached if he/she wishes to continue to use the office space.

Question: If I do receive a contribution after I withdraw, become unopposed or after I am elected or eliminated, what do I do with it?

The contribution shall be returned to the person contributing it and shall not be used or expended by or on behalf of the candidate.

Question: Is a candidate required to use closed-captioning and descriptive narrative in all television broadcasts?

Yes. Each candidate, political party and political committee is required to use closed-captioning and descriptive narrative in all television broadcasts regulated by the Federal Communication Commission. (see FS 106.165)