See related PDC Interpretation 07-02, Primary Purpose Test

Definition

A political committee is any person, group, club, organization or collection of individuals (except a candidate or individual dealing with his or her own funds) expecting to receive contributions or make expenditures in support of or in opposition to any candidate or ballot proposition, including annexation and incorporation ballot issues.  Although a group may be a civic, social or professional organization primarily, it also may be a political committee if it accepts contributions specifically for use in election campaigns.  RCW 42.17A.005(37)

In addition, any group expecting to receive and/or spend funds to assist its efforts to have an annexation or incorporation issue placed on the ballot is a political committee and must register and report from the date of such expectation.   Deciding to hire a lawyer to assist with getting an annexation or incorporation issue on the ballot would trigger committee status for a new committee and any legal costs associated with placing the matter on the ballot would be reportable campaign expenditures.

Political committees typically spend money to:

  • support or oppose candidates;
  • support or oppose any levy, referendum, initiative, recall, annexation, incorporation or other ballot proposition; and/or
  • make contributions to candidates or other committees.

Types of Committees

An in-state political committee will register as a:

  • Bona Fide Political Party Committee – official state, county central, or legislative district committee of a major or minor political party;[1]
  • Ballot Measure Committee – organized to support or oppose a particular ballot measure (the ballot number or description of the measure must be included on the committee’s registration), or
  • Other Committee – any committee that does not qualify as a bona fide political party committee or a ballot committee.  Includes continuing committees organized for more than one election season, such as business or labor committees and on-going political action committees.  Also includes single year committees, such as slate committees that organize to support particular groups of candidates.

"Single Year" and "Continuing" Designations

A single year political committee is organized to support or oppose a particular ballot measure or a slate of candidates.  The committee registers for a particular election year and disbands after the election.  A continuing committee plans to continue from year to year.

 

[1] For the PDC’s purposes, a minor political party is a political party whose nominees for president and vice-president qualified to appear on the ballot in the last preceding presidential election according the minor party nomination process provided in RCW 29A.56.600 through 29A.56.670..  A political party that qualifies as a minor political party retains such status until certification of the next presidential election.  WAC 434-208-130(2).