Many campaign contributions must be reported by the employer's registered lobbyist on the monthly expenditure report. But if the employer makes a direct contribution in excess of $250 to a state or local candidate or political committee and the lobbyist was not involved in the process, the lobbyist has no obligation to report the contribution. The lobbyist employer would report such a contribution, provided it was not made by the employer's PAC, on an L-3c report.

Contribution Limits Explained

Look up contribution amounts that may be given to candidates, political party committees, and caucus campaign committees.

Each lobbyist employer has a separate contribution limit unless the employer:

  1. controls a political committee as described in RCW 42.17A.455;
  2. is affiliated with another entity for limit purposes under RCW 42.17A.455 and WAC 390-16-309;
  3. exerts "direction or control" over another person's contribution as set out in RCW 42.17A.460;
  4. received "direction or control" from another person with respect to a contribution; or
  5. is prohibited from contributing to state office candidates under RCW 42.17A.460.

Each lobbying firm is entitled to a separate limit provided it 1) does business in Washington, 2) is not affiliated with another entity, and 3) neither exerts nor receives "direction or control" with respect to a contribution subject to limits.

In addition, each lobbyist has his or her own personal contribution limit for each state office candidate, so long as the lobbyist does not exercise direction or control over someone else's contributions. With the exception of the last three weeks before the general election, an individual lobbyist has no limit on contributions given to caucus and party committees.

Intermediary: An individual who transmits a contribution on behalf of anyone - except his or her employer, immediate family member, and/or association to which he or belongs - becomes an intermediary and must disclose to the recipient his or her full name, street address, occupation, name of employer and, if self-employed, place of business and the same information for the contributor. (For example, if a lobbyist delivers a contribution from a PAC that is not the lobbyist's employer - even though the PAC may be affiliated with the employer - the lobbyist is an intermediary and must supply the recipient with the information noted above.)

Direction or Control of Another's Contribution: If an intermediary or conduit for a contribution originating from another source exercised any "direction or control" over the choice of the recipient candidate or state official, the contribution is considered to be by both the original contributor and the conduit or intermediary. The Commission has determined that a lobbyist has exercised "direction or control" over an employer's contribution if the lobbyist:

  1. officially decides who is to receive a contribution from the employer or the employer's political committee; or
  2. has the ability to execute or authorize payment of a contribution by the employer or the employer's PAC.

WAC 390-20-148. A lobbyist who merely recommends who the employer should contribute to is not exercising "direction or control" over the contribution.

Affiliated Entities: Some entities are "affiliated" with others for purposes of sharing a contribution limit. For instance, the following entities share a limit: parent corporations and their subsidiaries; corporate branches and divisions; and international, national, state, and local affiliates of the same union or other membership organization. See RCW 42.17A.455 and WAC 390-16-309.

Bundling: Only individuals may be intermediaries for contributions to candidates and political committees. All lobbyists may transmit contributions from their employers. However, a lobbyist employer that is a business, union, association, PAC or other entity is prohibited from collecting contributions from two or more sources and transmitting those contributions to the intended recipient.

Other Contribution Restrictions

  • Written Instrument. Monetary contributions exceeding $100 made by individuals, associations, unions, and businesses must be by written instrument. Any monetary contribution given by a PAC must be by written instrument.
  • No reimbursement or salary increase. No one may be reimbursed directly or indirectly by anyone else for a contribution to a candidate, political committee or political party. (Lobbyists may not be reimbursed for contributions they make; if lobbyist employers want to make contributions, they must do so directly or provide a check for the lobbyist to deliver.) Further, no employer may give an officer or employee a salary increase or bonus with the intention that all or part of it be spent to support or oppose a candidate, political party, or other committee.
  • General election timing provision. During the last three weeks before the general election, no one may contribute more than $5,000 to a candidate who is not otherwise subject to contribution limits or to a political committee. This timing provision does not apply to contributions made to ballot measure committees.
  • Foreign national financing or involvement certification. Contributors must certify to campaigns that the contribution does not include foreign national funding or involvement.
  • Legislative session freeze. No legislators, other state officials or their employees or agents may solicit or accept contributions for any state or local office candidate, to defray public office related expenses, or to retire a campaign debt during the regular legislative session, the 30 days before the regular session and during any special session of the legislature.