Secretary of State Provides Interim Guidance on New Campaign Finance Law

November 22, 2016 (revised 1/4/17)

Big changes are coming to Arizona’s campaign finance system, but we’re making the transition as easy as possible as we implement a comprehensive new law.  Here is some guidance to assist existing committees navigate this process. 

Committee Types

Existing committees really won’t have to make any changes in the campaign finance website, as the Secretary of State’s office will take care of everything in the next few weeks.

First, the Secretary of State’s office will administratively convert any committee types that no longer exist under the new law.  Exploratory committees will become candidate committees, certain political organizations (like legislative district political parties) will be converted into political parties, and certain other types of political organizations will be converted into PACs.

Existing types of specialized PACs - such as independent expenditure committees, ballot measure committees, separate segregate funds, recall committees, and candidate-support committees – will simply become generic PACs going forward.

Finally, any special status you currently possess will be retained.  If you had what was colloquially known as “Super PAC” status under previous law, for example, you will be known as a “Mega PAC” going forward, but will not need to recertify until otherwise required.  Standing committees will remain in existence as well.

Committees should see these changes take effect when they log into our campaign finance website later in early January.  We will ask committees for some additional information and make further adjustments early in the new year, but for now, our goal is to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

Committee Operations

Our committee conversion over the next few weeks will obviate the need for most committees to terminate and reorganize.  We’ll take care of the transition for you, if you haven’t beaten us to it.

The new law requires existing committees to “wind down” their operations, however we recognize that some committees will need to remain active to some degree during the transition period.   For example, certain corporate separate segregated funds may have ongoing payroll deduction plans with corporate employees.  Or a candidate committee might receive a campaign contribution during the first week of the year, before the legislative session begins.   The Secretary of State’s office will not ding committees for these modest types of activities.

The bottom line is that our office will not sweat the small stuff.  If you have specific questions, please contact the elections division.

Additionally, the new law requires candidate committees to have their first or last name and office sought in their committee name.  (For example, “Johnson for House.”)  If you don’t get around to updating your committee name, we’ll send you an email by month’s end asking what your preferred committee name should be, and we’ll amend it for you on the back end.

Campaign Finance Reports

Finally, we recognize that committees will need to enter transactions into our campaign finance website in order to file a post-election report by January 15th.  We’re busily updating our website to reflect the new reporting requirements. 

Here’s how the transition period will work: transactions that occurred between October 28th and November 8th will need be reported through our current website.  Transactions that occur between November 9th and December 31st, however, will be reported in the new website.  We expect to have the new website operational within the next week.  The entire post-general report must be filed by January 15th, however we will not refer any committee for enforcement if they were late entering transactions because our website was under construction.

We’ll send updates to committees shortly, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 602.542.8683 or [email protected] if you have any questions.