SB 298 - Upon voter approval, this act creates a method for publicly financing election campaigns for legislative and statewide candidates and caps contributions to political party committees at $5,000.
Contributions to political party committees are capped, in aggregate, at $5,000 per year.
Candidates certified as participating candidates are eligible to receive public funding for their respective campaigns for primary and general elections by raising qualifying contributions, in the sum of $5 per voter, from a specified number of individuals, during a specified qualifying period. The candidates may, before certification, raise and spend seed money contributions.
Participating candidates shall not accept private contributions other than qualifying contributions and seed money contributions during the period up until 30 days after filing for office. Seed money contributions shall be $100 or less per contribution and shall not exceed, in aggregate, $1,000 for Representative, $2,000 for Senator, $5,000 for statewide office other than Governor, and $10,000 for Governor.
Participating candidates shall receive a line of credit and a fair election credit card in order to make expenditures that draw on an account held in the newly formed "Fair Elections Trust Fund". The amounts of funds to be distributed to certified candidates are based on average expenditures of previous campaigns and whether or not the race is contested. Accounts are adjusted in the form of a matching credit based on the spending of nonparticipating candidates and independent expenditures. Once certified, participating candidates may only receive and spend moneys allocated to the candidate from the fund.
A process for making complaints against participating candidates is included in the act. Fines may be imposed upon candidates in violation of the act and knowingly violating certain portions of the act constitute a Class D felony.
Candidates holding elected offices that are running for an office covered under the act are required to give advance notice of making mass mailings that are funded by state funds in an election year. Participating candidates for the same office are entitled to a credit equal to the cost of such mailing.
This act is similar to SB 1071 (2008), SB 466 (2012), and HB 1929 (2012).