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One of the most difficult aspects of running for office is navigating campaign finance laws. One mistake can ruin a campaign and ruin a reputation.
Whether it’s a federal, state, or local campaign, chances are the opposition, the media, or a public watchdog will scrutinize campaign finance reports. In the past few months alone, dozens of allegations of missteps have been raised across the country:
- In Colorado, an independent spending committee supporting congressional candidate Erik Aadland is accused of accepting an illegal donation from a company doing business with the federal government, which is prohibited by federal law. The committee is also accused of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it raised, leaving large sums of money unaccounted for, according to campaign finance records.
- In California, a candidate for mayor of Chula Vista is accused of violating city and state campaign finance laws by hiring a private detective to watch his opponent.
- New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti is under fire for accepting campaign contributions from two donors who signed fake electoral ballot certificates in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Although the contributions are legal, they have become a public relations nightmare for the candidate.
- In Washington State, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is accused of violating a campaign finance law more than 800 times. Ad sellers are required by law to disclose the names and addresses of buyers of political ads, the targets of those ads, and the total number of views for each ad.
New York Campaign Finance Act
In New York, each election season requires candidates to navigate complex sets of election laws and deal with entities such as the Federal Election Commission, the New York State Board of Elections and the Board of Finance of the New York City campaign, as well as New York county boards. elections. Maintaining compliance with these laws is a daunting task, even for seasoned applicants.
New York City offers a unique high-stakes challenge. The city is providing matching funds to city candidates — a record $127 million in the 2021 election season. It’s an added incentive to stay compliant.
In an age of acrimonious and highly partisan politics, campaign finance is a high-stakes arena where huge sums of money change hands. A successful campaign must avoid the public allegations, steep fines, and contentious litigation that can result from financial missteps. One way for candidates to avoid breaking strict laws is to consult with trusted, seasoned election attorneys experienced in navigating the maze of federal, state, and local campaign finance laws.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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