September 5, 2002
Sherri L. Wyatt, Esq.
Sherri L. Wyatt, PLLC
1825 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Re: Non-Campaign Related Activities of Candidate and Reporting Requirements
Dear Ms. Wyatt:
This responds to your request for an expedited opinion concerning the conduct of certain activities of a candidate for elective office, as well as the filing requirements applicable to a candidate and/or his or her principal campaign committee. Specifically, you inquire as to whether a candidate’s continuing participation in airing a weekly show, either on television or on radio, where there are no political references to the candidate’s campaign or opponents, would be prohibited. Secondly, you ask whether a candidate for office is required to file financial reports at the conclusion of his or her campaign, where there are debts in dispute but involve a sum certain.
DC Official Code § 1-1102.06(a) provides “[t]he treasurer of each political committee supporting a candidate,… and each candidate, required to register under this chapter, shall file with the Director, and with the applicable principal campaign committee, reports of receipts and expenditures…”.
DC Official Code § 1-1102.06(b)(11) states, “[e]ach report under this section shall disclose: the amount and nature of debts and obligations owed by or to the committee… and a continuous reporting of its debts and obligations after the election at such periods as the Director may require until such debts and obligations are extinguished…”.
3 DCMR § 3016.5 provides, “[a] committee, program or fund that cannot extinguish its outstanding debts and obligations may qualify to terminate its reporting requirements, by the following: (a) [s]ettling its debts for less than the full amount owed to its creditors; and (b) [d]emonstrating that a debt is unpayable.”
Generally, the DC Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act, as amended, provides candidates for elective office in the District of Columbia broad latitude relative to the conduct of their individual campaigns. Further, the statute does not restrict candidates from engaging in activities in the normal course of their business affairs, particularly where they are non-political in nature. In the instant case, you state that the candidate’s normal activities include the airing of a television or radio show that has no political references to his or her candidacy or that of an opponent. Based on your representations, it is the opinion of the Office of Campaign Finance that the airing of a television or radio show under these circumstances would not violate any provisions of the DC Campaign Finance Act.
Finally, candidates for elective office and/or their principal campaign committees have a continuing obligation to report receipts and expenditures until such are extinguished. Where a debt is in dispute, a candidate or committee is required to make “best efforts”, pursuant to 3 DCMR § 3016.13, to settle the outstanding debt with a creditor prior to seeking approval of the Director to terminate candidate/committee reporting requirements. In the absence of the foregoing, the candidate/committee would be required to file reports of receipts and expenditures indefinitely or until such time as the Director effect the administrative termination of the reporting requirements.