Tips from CMDI’s Compliance Experts
cmdi | Mon Jan 23, 2023
Campaign finance regulations can be complicated, and even the most seasoned experts know to expect occasional errors. Our experienced compliance team has learned that the following “best practices” help prevent common mistakes. Here’s some practical advice for campaigns to keep in mind!
Coordination: Coordination between a campaign’s treasury and finance departments is very important. Compliance is not the only department that needs to be familiar with FEC regulations! Fundraisers should be informed, as well. They can prevent compliance problems from arising and help the compliance department operate more efficiently. For example, federal regulations ban contributions from corporations and foreign nationals. Fundraisers shouldn’t solicit contributions that the compliance department would later have to refund.
Data Hygiene: Data hygiene can also help the compliance department operate effectively. This is especially for true for campaigns that work with large datasets. In general, campaigns should rely on one consolidated database that includes all donor records. That way, duplicate records are easy to identify. Duplicate records make it more difficult for the compliance staff to discover an over-limit contribution before the FEC’s 60-day deadline. This can lead to unnecessary refunds. After the deadline has passed, the over-limit contribution must be refunded rather than simply re-attributed or re-designated.
An Ounce of Prevention: Campaigns should be aware of the most common mistakes made by donors. Unfortunately, some issues are hard to avoid. A donor may forget to sign a check or make it out to the wrong committee. Other mistakes can be prevented by solid communication with donors, such as by explaining the various contribution limits for campaigns and PACs. If campaigns remind donors of these limits, they may have fewer over-limit contributions to address later.
Know Your Resources: The FEC’s regulations are available on their website. The commission also provides guides for congressional candidates, party committees, non-connected committees and corporations and labor organizations that outline important compliance guidelines for every type of committee. The FEC’s Educational Outreach page offers additional resources, such as on-demand informational videos, live webinars and information on regional conferences.
Check and double check: The most important “best practice” is to always double check. Compliance departments can’t be too careful.
Don’t work alone: Finally, it is a good idea to work with a company prepared to offer expert data and compliance services, like CMDI!