The Public Disclosure Commission enforces the campaign disclosure provisions and contribution limits found in RCW 42.17A and Title 390 WAC, including certain laws and rules concerning campaign-related loans made to candidates and political committees under its jurisdiction This interpretation is intended to provide guidance by informing the public, candidates, and political committees of the Commission’s interpretation of the record-keeping and reporting requirements for the receipt, repayment, and forgiveness of campaign-related loans, and the relationship between loans and applicable contribution limits. The law and rules are always controlling in the event of any conflict with, or omission in, the interpretation.
Receipt of a Loan –
A loan is a contribution and thus is subject to the applicable candidate contribution limits found in RCW 42.17A.405 & .410, unless it is made by a commercial lender, in the regular course of business, and on the same terms ordinarily available to the public. RCW 42.17A.465; WAC 390-16-226.
A commercial loan to a candidate’s authorized committee or a committee controlled by a candidate is presumed to be guaranteed by the candidate, absent clear, cogent and convincing evidence proving otherwise. A commercial loan guaranteed by the candidate is a loan of the candidate’s personal funds. WAC 390-16-226.
To be eligible for loan repayment, monetary and in-kind loans must be:
recorded in a written loan agreement executed when the loan is made; and
timely and accurately reported as a loan by the recipient. WAC 390-16-226.
In the event a loan is mistakenly reported as a contribution for which repayment is not expected, the recipient must timely amend the report to disclose when the loan was initially made,and include an executed written loan agreement in the candidate or political committee records/books of account.
The lender and recipient are responsible for negotiating mutually agreeable, lawful loan terms. The terms may be renegotiated during the life of the loan upon the mutual consent of the parties.
The due date may be a date certain or a flexible date, such as “when funds are available or “after the election is held.”
All terms agreed to, including changes negotiated during the life of the loan, must be set out in the written loan agreement or a written amendment to the agreement, and included in the candidate or political committee records/books or account.
Loan Agreement –
In-kind loans: A receipt for out-of-pocket expenditures may be substituted for the loan agreement, provided it contains the required information such as the date the expenditure was made, the amount to be repaid, the terms of repayment, and is signed by the campaign treasurer and person expecting repayment. See PDC Interpretation 12-01.
Monetary loans: A written loan agreement is required for all monetary loans. RCW 42.17A.465. The loan agreement must be executed by the lender and the treasurer. The Commission recommends the following format:
The committee must keep executed loan agreements with its financial records and provide them with the books of account when responding to a inspection request during the periods of public inspection.
Loan Repayment –
A candidate or a political committee must timely and accurately disclose loan payments it makes to the lender on the appropriate reports.
In the event a lender forgives any portion of a loan, the candidate or the political committee must timely and accurately report the forgiveness on the C-4, Schedule L.
In the event a third person makes a payment to the lender for the purpose of repaying any portion of a campaign loan, the payment is an in-kind contribution to the candidate or the political committee, and subject to applicable contribution limits. The candidate or the political committee must timely and accurately report the loan payment/in-kind contribution.
A candidate or a political committee may carry unpaid loans forward to the next campaign. When a single-year committee carries forward an unpaid loan, the committee ending its campaign must disclose the ending loan balance on its final C-4 report. The new committee must disclose the forwarded loan balance on the initial C-4 report filed by new campaign. Subsequent transactions affecting the loan are reported by the new campaign.
A committee must timely and accurately report loan payments it makes to the lender.
When a loan is repaid to a lender other than a candidate, the lender’s contribution limit is restored by the amount of the loan repayment.
A political committee, may make loans to other political committees, subject to applicable contribution limits. However, RCW 42.17A.430 prohibits a candidate from lending active or surplus campaign funds to another candidate or a political committee.
Mini Reporting Committees –
Candidates and political committees who select the mini reporting option are subject to loan-related laws and rules, as well as these guidelines, except that they are not required to file reports disclosing loan activity. The self-imposed limits of the mini reporting option apply to loans.
Cite as PDC Interpretation No. 14-01
Approved: September 25, 2014 | Amended February 28, 2019