Running for any public office comes with many strict regulations and guidelines. These regulations are put in place to ensure a fair election and to preserve democracy. Unfortunately, these restrictions only work if those involved with election campaigns abide by them. Election campaigns run into a variety of legal issues involving federal and state regulations, sometimes unintentionally, but other times with the hope their violations will go unnoticed.
Some of the most common election campaign legal issues include:
- Misappropriation of funds – Campaign funds cannot be spent on just anything. These funds should only be spent on the campaign and are not available for personal use or to purchase things like property or pay interest.
- Failure to submit reports – Election campaigns must file financial reports with the Texas Election Commission, even in non-election years. During an election year, candidates for office are required to submit four reports throughout the year.
- Not disclosing advertising – Under Texas campaign law, certain campaign advertising must include a disclosure statement explaining the advertising is “political advertising” or “pol. adv.” and include the name of the person who paid for the advertising, the political committee authorizing the political advertising, or the candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate.
- Accepting funds or making an expenditure without a treasurer – Any campaign that receives contributions and/or makes expenditures must first appoint a campaign treasurer and file the necessary paperwork.
- Accepting funds from prohibited organizations – Candidates cannot accept contributions from everyone. In Texas, candidates cannot receive contributions from organizations like labor unions and most corporations.
- Accepting out of state contributions – Before accepting any out of state contributions, candidates need to obtain and file required paperwork.
- Accepting contributions during a legislative session – Most offices in Texas do not allow candidates to accept contributions during a period that begins 30 days before a regular legislative session convenes and ends 20 days after final adjournment
Experienced Election Campaign Lawyers
Failure to abide by election laws could not only jeopardize a candidate’s entire campaign, but it could also cause candidates to face civil lawsuits or even criminal charges. At Feldman & Feldman, our election campaign lawyers are well versed in Texas election laws. We can advise campaigns and help establish procedures for compliance with regulations.