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Interpretative Opinion 98-09: Recordkeeping Requirements

December 1, 1998

Tony Norman, Treasurer
Ward One Democrats
533 Gresham Place, NW
Washington, DC  20001

Re: Recordkeeping Requirements

Dear Mr. Norman:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning the recordkeeping requirements of the DC Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act, as amended (the Act), and its implementing regulations, in view of your responsibilities as treasurer for Ward One Democrats (the Committee).  You state that a number of irregularities exist, including undocumented expenditures,  checks written by unauthorized officers which do not contain appropriate signatures, and the issuing of large checks for expenditures made payable to officers, instead of to vendors.  You further state that this situation necessarily creates difficulty for you, as treasurer, to comply with the Act.

Pursuant to DC Code § 1-1411(a), “[n]o expenditure shall be made for or on behalf of a political committee without authorization of its chairman or treasurer or their designated agents.”  DC Code § 1-1411(b) states in pertinent part, “[a]ll funds of a political committee shall be segregated from, and may not be commingled with, any personal funds of officers, members, or associates of such committee.”  DC Code § 1-1411(b) further states that “[e]very person who receives a contribution of $50 or more for or on behalf of a political committee shall, on demand of the treasurer, and in any event within 5 days after receipt of such contribution, submit to the treasurer of such committee a detailed account thereof,  . . . “ (emphasis added).  Moreover, DC Code § 1-1411(c )(3) and (4) provide, [e]xcept for accounts of expenditures made out of the petty cash fund . . ., the treasurer of a political committee . . . shall keep a detailed and exact account of . . . all expenditures made by or on behalf of such committee or candidate; and the full name and mailing address . . . of every person to whom any expenditure is made, the date and amount thereof and the name and address of, and office sought by, each candidate on whose behalf such expenditure was made.”  Further, DC Code § 1-1411 (d) directs that “[t]he treasurer or candidate shall obtain and preserve such receipted bills and records as may be required by the Board.”

Additionally, DC Code § 1-1413 (a) provides that  “[n]o expenditures may be made by such committee or candidate except by check drawn to the person to whom the expenditure is being made
on that account or accounts, other than petty cash expenditures as provided by subsection (b) of this section” (emphasis added).

Notwithstanding the jurisdiction conferred by the Act concerning such matters as  reporting, disclosure, and certain administrative requirements such as the appointment of certain officers of political committees, the Office of Campaign Finance has no jurisdiction relative to the internal operations of a political committee.  Based on your representations, there are a number of financial transactions engaged in by the Committee that do not comport with the Act.  However, it is incumbent upon you as treasurer to advise and insist that the statute and regulations referenced herein are followed so as to avoid penalties in the event of an audit of the Committee by this Office in the future.