View Full Version : Primary vs General Election Campaign Funds
05-10-2008, 01:25 PM
There is a "wall" between monies in a campaign fund for a primary and a general election in which primary money can be rolled into the general fund but money earmarked for the general cannot be used for the primary.
But what happens to that money when there is no general run, when the candidate doesn't get past the primary but has a stockpile in the general fund?
Can it be used to pay down debt from the primary run once it is over? Can it be used to support the Party's candidate? A different candidate in a different election? Does it need to be returned? Does it need to be held for future runs by that candidate?
Obviously this has implication for a specific case in the news but it is a more general question in the abstract. What are the rules?
05-10-2008, 07:52 PM
Well I think I found my answer, (http://www.sandiego.gov/ethics/pdf/postelection.pdf) in case any one else is curious.If a candidate will not be in a general election (because the candidate withdrew, lost, or won outright
in the primary) but has already accepted contributions for the general election, the contributions must
be returned to the contributors on a pro rata basis, minus the costs of raising and administering the
contributions (e.g., fundraiser fees, treasurer fees).
If a candidate’s leftover funds or assets have become “surplus,” the candidate may not use those
funds or assets for his or her next race. Instead the candidate must dispose of the surplus funds or
assets pursuant to the surplus funds rules discussed above. Only then may the candidate redesignate
So the general funds need to be returned minus "shipping and handling fees."
How is it determined that donated funds are for the primary rather than the general election?
05-10-2008, 11:49 PM
An individual is limted to $2300 donations to the primary run and another $2300 to the general run. Primary surplus can be rolled over into the general election fund. A candidate who has big donors who donate maximally and early will take that $4600 max and have the first $2300 designated for the primary and the other $2300 (or any other lesser amount in excess of the first $2300) designated for the general.
In the specific current affairs case it is widely believed that Clinton maxxed out some big donors fairly early and has a large chunk sitting in a general fund, untouchable apparently for use in the primary run, for paying down debt after the fact, or for any other election purpose unless she has a general election run (Hmmm, how about if she runs as VP?). Even though she has a primary debt that money will need to be returned to the contributers ... who are free to donate it to Obama if they so desire.
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