Candidates and political committees should be aware of additional limits and reporting that applies to larger contributions received close to the election day.

Special limits on last-minute contributions

During the 21 days before the general election, no candidate for statewide office may accept aggregate contributions of more than $50,000 from any contributor eligible to give that amount. Similarly, candidates for other offices and political committees may not accept contributions totaling more than $5,000 from any eligible contributor during this three-week period. These limitations do not apply to contributions accepted from the state committee of either a major political party or a minor party.

The statutory language imposing the $5,000/$50,000 contribution limit has been interpreted by PDC to mean:

  • A campaign loan received during the 21 days prior to the general is subject to the limit, as are any loan co-signers or guarantors;
  • A pledge in excess of the amounts allowed by the limit may NOT be made by a contributor or received or redeemed by a candidate or political committee during the 21 days prior to the general;
  • A committee that receives a contribution in excess of the allowed amount may retain the maximum permitted by law so long as the excess amount is immediately returned to the contributor;
  • The contribution limit applies to all forms of contributions, including cash, in-kind, pledges, loans, etc., and any combination of them; and
  • Earmarked contributions given to an intermediary during the 21 days before the general for the benefit of a candidate or other committee may not exceed any applicable limit for the candidate or committee and must be combined with contributions from the same contributor given directly to the candidate or committee.
  • This 21-day pre-general election period begins at 12:01 a.m. PST on the third Tuesday before the general election held in November and ends at 11:59 p.m. PST on the Monday immediately before the election.

If an in-kind contribution is made 22 days or more before a general election and written notice of the in-kind contribution is in the possession of the recipient candidate or political committee 22 or more days before the general election, the contribution is not subject to the respective $5,000/$50,000 last-minute contribution restriction.

An in-kind contribution in the form of personal services donated to a candidate or political committee for the duration of the 21 days before a general election is not subject to the respective $5,000/$50,000 last-minute contribution restriction provided that the recipient is given written notice of the total value of these personal services 22 or more days before the general election.  RCW 42.17A.420.

Reporting large last-minute contributions

During the seven days before the primary and the 21 days before the general election, candidates and committees must file special reports of contributions they  receive during that 7- or 21-day period from one source that are $1,500 or more in the aggregate, whether cash or in-kind or a combination of the two. Committees also must report any contributions made that meet that threshold.

The special report discloses:

  • the amount of the contribution(s);
  • the date or dates received;
  • the name and address of the donor; and
  • the receiving campaign's name and address.

 

Candidates and committees receiving one or more contributions from a single source totaling $1,500 or more must deliver a written report to the PDC within 48 hours of receiving the contribution, or the first working day thereafter if the 48th hour falls on a weekend or holiday. Either file the C-3 within 48 hours or file a special Last Minute Contribution (LMC) report.  Political committees including PACs, parties and caucus committees that give these contributions file special reports within 24 hours of giving. Any contributions disclosed on an LMC report should also be reported on the appropriate C-3 and C-4 reports.