June 7, 2018

Campaigns that receive online or credit card contributions have new reporting requirements under Washington state campaign finance law.

The changes were part of Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2938. This is the fourth of several guides to help explain the legislation, which took effect June 7.

Contributions prior to June 7

Prior to ESHB 2938 and the emergency rules adopted by the Public Disclosure Commission to implement the law, campaigns were required to report the receipt date as the date they were informed of the contributions. 

Candidates and political committees that were informed of contributions – by way of a notice from the online vendor or otherwise – before June 7 should follow the prior requirements and report the receipt date as the date they became aware of the contribution. 

Contributions June 7 and later

Under the new law and revised WAC 390-05-215, online and credit card contributions are considered received at the time the transfer is made from the merchant account to a candidate or political committee account.

If a campaign was not aware of a contribution as of June 6, it should report the receipt date as the date the transfer is made by the merchant account. In these cases, the deposit date would be the same as the receipt date even if the funds were not immediately available to the campaign upon the the transfer by the merchant account.

Contributions near fundraising freezes

ESHB 2938 extends an exception for contributions made to a candidate who is a state official or legislator.

As long as the donor makes the contribution outside the fundraising freeze that begins 30 days before the legislative session and lasts though the session’s adjournment, the contribution is considered received outside the freeze period regardless of when the merchant account initiates the transfer. The same exception already applied to mailed contributions.

Questions?

This guide is intended as a resource to aid compliance with ESHB 2938, and is not intended to replace applicable RCW or WAC provisions. The PDC encourages the public to consult ESHB 2938 and the emergency rules adopted by the Commission to implement ESHB 2938, which are available at our website: www.pdc.wa.gov/ESHB_2938_news

PDC staff are available to answer questions. Email pdc@pdc.wa.gov with your questions or suggestions for how we might continue to improve our guidance resources.