Compliance Laws for Government Relations Professionals

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State and Federal Communications' Experts Answer Your Questions
November 2016

Here is your chance to "Ask the Experts" at State and Federal Communications, Inc. Send your questions to experts@stateandfed.com. (Of course, we have always been available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or email us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies are not legal advice, just our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

My employer makes corporate contributions in California. We have not yet exceeded $10,000 in calendar year 2016. The general election is this month.  If we decide to make contributions, are there any reporting requirements?

Your employer may have to file a California "Late Contribution Report" [Form 497], sometimes referred to as the "24-hour report."  This report is due during the 90-day period preceding any election if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The corporation making the contribution must have already qualified as a major donor (i.e., made contributions aggregating $10,000 or more in a calendar year) or the contribution made during the 90-day period before the election puts them over the $10,000 threshold and they become a major donor.

  • The contribution is $1,000 or more, or multiple contributions aggregating $1,000 or more, to a single candidate, ballot measure committee, or political party.  This includes non-monetary and in-kind contributions.

  • The recipient candidate or ballot measure committee must appear on the ballot at the election for which the 90-day period applies.

The filing requirements for Form 497 are:

  • The report is due within 24 hours of mailing, delivering, or otherwise transmitting the contribution. 

  • If the deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or official state holiday, the 24-hour deadline is extended to the next business day.  Exception:  The Form 497 must be filed within 24 hours including Saturday, Sunday, or an official state holiday when the report is due the weekend immediately prior to an election.  For example, if a donor makes a contribution on the Saturday before an election, the Form 497 is due on Sunday.

  • The reports are electronically filed with the California Secretary of State, Political Reform Division.  Paper follow-up is no longer required. 

Nola R. Werren, Client Specialist