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Corporations and PACs

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • El. Bd. Op. 2000-02

    Non-registrants, including corporations, may communicate to the general public their views about issues and/or about a clearly identified candidate, without subjecting themselves to a registration requirement, if the communication does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate; expenditures which are "coordinated" with a candidate or candidate's agent will be treated as a contribution to that candidate; intra-association communications that are restricted to "a candidate endorsement, a position on a referendum or an explanation of the ass

  • El. Bd. Op. 2003-01

    The filing, with the State Elections Board, of a challenge to a candidate’s nomination, is an act for political purposes and the spending of more than $25 in the submitting of that challenge requires that the person challenging file a registration statement with the Board. The spending by an individual of more than $100 of his or her own money to submit a challenge to a candidate’s nomination precludes the individual from exempt status and requires the individual to file a campaign finance report.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1979-05

    A corporation which establishes and administers a separate segregated fund under §11.38 (l)(a)2., Stats., may purchase and pay premiums on officers' and directors' liability insurance, general liability insurance and fidelity bonds for the fund (Issued to Thomas J. Sobota, December 13, 1979)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1980-03

    The separate segregated fund of a corporation or association established pursuant to §11.38(l)(a)2., Stats., may not accept contributions from other corporations to be used solely for the administrative expenses of the separate segregated fund. (Issued to Mr. Peter Coe Christianson. September 18, 1980)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1982-01

    A corporation sponsoring a nonresident separate segregated fund must register with the Elections Board pursuant to §11.38(1)(a)2., Wis. Stats., and file semi-annual reports disclosing its administrative and solicitation expenses with respect to Wisconsin related campaign finance activities of the separate segregated fund. A corporation may not spend more than $500 annually for solicitation of contributions to its separate segregated fund for Wisconsin related campaign finance activity. (Issued to Mr. James R. Klauser, September 23, 1982)

  • El. Bd. Op. 1986-01

    JOINT FUNDRAISERS; a political action committee and a conduit may not conduct a joint fundraiser where the contributions are deposited in a single check in an escrow account and an allocation formula is used to divide the contributions. §§11.05(9) and 11.14(1) and (2), Stats. (Issued to Mr. James Buchen, April 30, 1986.)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1986-03

    Organization or PAC that sponsors a partisan "get out the vote" drive must register with the appropriate filing officer and meet the applicable requirements of the campaign finance law. §11.05(1), Stats. Disbursements used in the drive are not allocable as in-kind expenditures. (Issued to Brady C. Williamson, January 14, 1987.)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on March 26, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1988-03

    Independent insurance agents can establish a commission withholding system that will enable participating insurance companies to forward agents' contributions to an agents' PAC, without attributing any of those contributions, or the expenses of maintaining the system to the participating insurance companies. Separate bookkeeping of each individual agent's contributions and pro-rata expenses must be maintained and reported. (Issued to Mr. Steven A. Reidich, October 5, 1988)

  • El. Bd. Op. 1988-04

    The exclusion set out in §11.29(1), Stats., and the application of Wisconsin's campaign finance disclosure law is limited to communications from an organization to its members to the exclusion of all others for the purpose of communicating endorsements of candidates, positions on referenda or an explanation of the organization's views and interests. The funding of such communications must be paid for by the organization.

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1989-01

    Interest income from conduit and PAC depository accounts, properly invested under §11.25(3) Stats., may be used in the same manner as other funds in the account, including payment of administration and solicitation expenses of a conduit if the conduit agreement so provides.

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1991-01

    A corporation which acts solely in the nature of a conduit in collecting and transferring the contributions of its employee-agents to the political action committee of the employeeagents' statewide trade association does not make a contribution to that trade association PAC, if none of the expenses of administration or solicitation of those contributions are borne by the corporation and if a list of the contributors and the amounts of their contributions is maintained at each stage of the transfer. (Issued to Brady Williamson, August 12, 1991)

  • El. Bd. Op. 1998-01

    A registered conduit may transfer funds from members’ accounts to political committees (PAC’s) and those transfers will be treated as the contributions from the individual members who authorized the transfers to the PAC in the amount authorized by each member.

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1979-04

    The registration, recordkeeping and reporting requirements of the campaign finance law, Chapter 11, Stats., do not apply to a corporation which communicates its views on a general issue which may later become the subject of a referendum question. (Issued to Robert M. Whitney, October 18, 1979)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on March 26, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1978-13

    Corporate subsidies of candidate appearances: A corporation's provision of facilities, materials, services and beverages in connection with a candidate's political appearance before members of the corporation's separate segregated fund and "other interested persons" is an impermissible corporate contribution or disbursement, rather than a permissible cost of administering the fund.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1978-11

    Establishment of separate segregated fund by affiliated corporations: Where two corporations are independently incorporated but affiliated for certain purposes, they may each establish a separate segregated fund if (1) neither corporation provides money or other assets for the operation of the other's fund, and (2) neither corporation exercises a significant degree of control over the management of the other's fund. §11.38 (l)(a)2., Stats. (Issued to W. Pharis Horton, July 20, 1978)

  • El. Bd. Op. 1975-03

    A non-resident political committee is subject to the same registration and reporting requirements as a resident committee but may maintain its campaign depository outside of this state. The term "solicitation" as used in §11.38 (2), Stats., includes those activities which have as their sole purpose and which by their nature or manner result solely in the raising of funds. (Issued to M. Scott Cisney, November 19, 1975)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on May 5, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1975-05

    Contributions of $100 or less received in the form of a check drawn on a joint checking account may be assumed to be from the signer of the check absent evidence to the contrary. Contributions over $100 received in the form of a check drawn on a joint checking account may not be assumed to be from the signer of the check absent evidence to the contrary; instead, the treasurer must affirmatively inquire as to whom the contribution is from. Contributions received in the form of a check drawn on a partnership checking account may not be assumed to be from the signer of the check.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1975-06

    Establishment and administration of separate segregated funds under §11.38 (l)(a) 2., Stats., discussed. (Issued to Richard S. Gallagher, December 19, 1975)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008. Readers are also directed to GAB §1.06, Wis. Admin. Code, and Chapter 328, Laws of 1979, which specify reporting requirements for corporations.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1975-08

    Discussion of separate segregated funds established pursuant to §11.38 (l)(a) 2., Stats., and their incorporation for purposes of liability. (Issued to Richard S. Gallagher, December 19, 1975)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1976-05

    Section 11.16 (2), Stats., is not violated by payroll deduction plan if corporation supplies fund with list of contributors and amounts contributed. Corporation may transmit total payroll deduction in the form of a corporate check if list of names of contributors and amounts contributed is provided to fund. (Issued to Richard S. Gallagher, February 18, 1976)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1976-06

    Labor organizations which have incorporated are prohibited by §11.38, Stats., from making political contributions or engaging in political activities other than as expressly permitted therein. (Issued to John A. Lawton, March 17, 1976)

  • El. Bd. Op. 1976-15

    Corporate conduits: A corporation which acts solely as a conduit in collecting and transferring predetermined contributions of its members to a state organization does not violate the prohibition on contributions by corporations. §11.38, Stats., Ops. El.Bd. 74-1, 75-6,76-3, 76-6. (Issued to Robert H. Friebert, December 17, 1976)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1977-07

    Joint solicitation by federal and state committees: Under a joint solicitation plan, in which collected contributions are allocated by an escrow agent according to a predetermined formula between a state political committee and a committee whose activity is directed exclusively toward federal campaigns, and contributors are advised of such allocation at the time of contribution, (1) the federal committee is not subject to the regulatory and reporting requirements of chapter 11, Stats., (2) the funds allocated to the federal committee are not subject to the regulatory and reporting require
  • El. Bd. Op. 1978-01

    Subcommittees of political committees: Local unions may terminate separate registrations and become subcommittees of political action committee operated by a regional affiliate, so long as subcommittees do not engage in financial activity independent of the parent committee and a single depository and treasurer are used. Such subcommittees may act as fund-raising agents for the regional committee, provided they exercise no discretion in transfer of funds to the committee and meet the statutory time deadlines for reporting and transmittal of collected funds to the committee treasurer.

  • El. Bd. Op. 1978-10

    Limit on corporate solicitations for separate segregated fund: The $500 annual limit on a corporation's solicitation expenditures for its separate segregated fund may be applied to any period of 12 consecutive months, including the corporation's fiscal year. § 11.38 (1)(a)2., Stats. (Issued to Floyd S. Keene, July 20, 1978)

    This opinion was reviewed by the Government Accountability Board pursuant to 2007 Wisconsin Act 1 and was reaffirmed on October 6, 2008.

  • El. Bd. Op. 06-1

    Ancillary events, like a golf outing, held in conjunction with a political fundraiser are treated as part of the fundraiser unless the registrant/beneficiary of the fundraiser is able to show that the fundraiser was a separate and independent event. In determining whether ancillary events are separate and independent from a political fundraising event, PAC/Conduit events to raise money for the PAC are evaluated differently from events held to raise money for a candidate.

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