Home News Local news Workshop on Reporting Campaign Finances Draws Only One Candidate

Workshop on Reporting Campaign Finances Draws Only One Candidate

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Feb. 13, 2008 — It's an election year, but Michael Springer was the only potential Senate candidate who showed up at a workshop Wednesday to learn about the rules and regulations on contributions and filing reports.
"My team and I are getting a heavy jump start going," Springer said. "The team that fails to plan isn't successful."
Ruben Camacho from Springer's team also attended the workshop, in which John Abramson Jr., supervisor of elections, gave out tips on campaign disclosure contribution reports. The training session started right on time at the Control Casino Office conference room in Orange Grove.
Abramson reviewed contribution limits, general rules and regulations, dos and don'ts of filing, and forms and statements of organizations. The discussion concerned both primaries and general elections.
A contribution is any gift, loan, advance or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of anyone to an election of office in the territory, Abramson said.
The monetary limit on contributions is $1,000 per immediate election such as the primary, according to the V.I. Code, Section 907. A second contribution of $1,000 may be made for the general election. The contributions of a candidate or his or her spouse to the candidate's own campaign are not subject to the limitations of Section 907. Legally they may give any amount, but it must pass through the candidate's treasurer's hands and be reported. The treasurer has to touch every cent that comes in, Abramson stressed.
The candidate must appoint a treasurer and chairman. They and any other committee members must be filed in a statement of organization, according to V.I. Code 904.
"There is a strict rule that the treasurer takes an oath of office," Abramson said. "They have a legal fiduciary responsibility."
It is the responsibility of the candidate and treasurer to file all reports or statements in full, accurate detail by a set date. This is done in the campaign disclosure report, a thorough summary of receipts and disbursements, Abramson said. The 17- page report has detailed summary pages and pages for listing all contributions, expenditures and disbursements. It should include copies of checks, money orders and receipts.
A late fee is assessed for each report or statement of expenditure not filed in the Board of Elections office or electronically within a set time, Abramson said. The fee is $10 per day — excluding weekends and holidays — that a report is overdue. The maximum fee is $500. The late-filing fee may not be paid from any contributions to the candidate.
"They must personally pay out of pocket, where it hurts," Abramson said.
Every treasurer is responsible for keeping full and accurate accounts in a proper book or electronic medium called account books. These books should have documented all contributions, expenditures and disbursements, to be provided and preserved by the treasurer.
If there are surplus funds remaining after payment of all campaign expenditures, there are a number of things the committee and candidate may do with the extra money. The surplus may be retained in an account not to exceed two years for the use in the next political campaign. The funds may be prorated and returned to the contributors. It may be paid to the political party to which the candidate belongs. Funds may be given to the Board of Education or a recognized nonprofit organization for the benefit of students or teachers, or any other charitable group, if it qualifies as a 501(c) not-for-profit organization.
Former senator Holland Redfield II gave $60,000 in surplus money to the Boys and Girls Club of the Virgin Islands, Abramson said.
"Keep in mind when you receive funds they don't belong to you," Abramson said. "They belong to the public."
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