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Campaign Finance Guide
Section 5: Expenditures

What is an Expenditure?
(DC Official Code § 1-1101.01(7)(A)-(C))

An expenditure includes a purchase, payment, distribution, loan advance, deposit, gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of financing, directly or indirectly, the election campaign of a candidate or any operations of a political committee involved in such a campaign; or any operations of a political committee involved in a campaign to obtain signatures on any initiative, referendum, or recall petition, or to bring about the ratification or defeat of any initiative, referendum, or recall measure; a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make an expenditure; and a transfer of funds between political committees.

An expenditure does not include incidental expenses incurred by, or on behalf of, individuals in the course of volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee; or the use of real or personal property and the cost of any food or beverage voluntarily provided by an individual to a candidate in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual's residential premises for candidate-related activities if the cumulative value of the activities does not exceed $500 with respect to any election.

Expenditure Limitations
(DC Official Code §§ 1-1102.01 and 1-1102.03)

There are no monetary limitations placed on expenditures. No expenditure may be made by, or on behalf of, a political committee at a time when there is a vacancy in the office of treasurer, and no other person has been designated and has agreed to perform the functions of treasurer. All committees must file a Statement of Organization designating a treasurer. No expenditure may be made for, or on behalf of, a political committee without the authorization of its chairman or treasurer, or their designated agents. No expenditure may be made by a committee or candidate, other than petty cash expenditures, except by check drawn payable to the person to whom the expenditure is being made, and on an account designated in the required Statement of Organization.

No resources of the District of Columbia government, including the expenditure of funds, the personal services of employees during work hours, and non-personal services, including supplies, materials, equipment, office space, facilities, telephones and other utilities, may be used to support or oppose any candidate for elected office.

Itemizing Expenditures
(DC Official Code §§ 1-1102.01 and 1-1102.06)

Expenditures must be disclosed and identified on Schedule B of the Report of Receipts and Expenditures. The report must include the full name, mailing address, occupation and principal place of business, if any, of each person to whom expenditures have been made, either by or on the behalf of the committee or candidate, within the calendar year, in an aggregate amount or value of $10 or more. The report must also detail the amount, date, and purpose of each such expenditure, and the name, address and office sought by each candidate on whose behalf such expenditure was made; the total sum of expenditures made by the committee or candidate during the calendar year; the amount and nature of debts and obligations owed by or to the committee; and a continuous reporting of its debts and obligations.

Independent Expenditures
(DC Official Code § 1-1131.01(f))

An “independent expenditure” is an expenditure for a communication by a person expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, which is made without cooperation or consultation with any candidate, or any authorized committee or agent of such candidate.

Reporting Requirements for Independent Expenditures
(DC Official Code § 1-1102.07)

Every person (other than a political committee or candidate) who makes contributions or expenditures, other than by contribution to a political committee or candidate, in an aggregate amount of $50.00 or more within a calendar year must file with the Director Reports of Receipts and Expenditures on the date on which reports by political committees are filed, but the report(s) need not be cumulative.

Things to Remember

  • There are no monetary limitations placed on expenditures.
  • Expenditures may not be made when there is a vacancy in the Office of Treasurer, and must be authorized by either the Treasurer or Chairman.
  • Independent Expenditures in the amount of $50.00 or more must be reported.
  • No District government resources may be used to support or oppose any candidate for elective office including the expenditure of funds, personal services of employees during work hours, and non-personal services including supplies, materials, equipment, office space, facilities, telephones and other utilities.