Campaign finance disclosure laws vary by state, but most states have two general requirements for candidates for office, political committees, and other entities that primarily work to elect or defeat candidate. They must:
- Register with the state; and
- File periodic reports about their contributions, expenditures, and donors.
One purpose of disclosure laws is to provide transparency during the elections process by publishing the sources of a candidate’s election fund. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), held disclosure laws also serve to:
- Help voters evaluate candidates by providing information about funding sources;
- Help deter quid pro quo corruption and the appearance of it; and
- Provide information necessary to detect violations of the law.
Kansas Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements
KSA 25-4148 requires candidates for state office or statewide office to file reports with the Office of the Secretary of State. Candidates for local office must file with the office of the county election officer. Candidates for state office may file paper copies of their reports or file electronically. Candidates for statewide office are required to file their reports electronically.
KSA 25-4148 also requires that reports must state the cash on hand on the first day of the reporting period, the aggregate amount of contributions, names and addresses of contributors, and the total of expenditures.
All reports must be filed on or before each of the following days:
- The eighth day before a primary election;
- The eighth day before a general election;
- January 10 of the year after an election year; and
- January 10 for any calendar year when no election is held.
Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements in Other States
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia require candidates for office to file campaign reports electronically. Sixteen states, including Kansas, do not require electronic filing, but offer electronic filing as an alternative to paper filing.
Of the 34 states that require electronic filing, 12 states offer waivers or an exemption for cause.
Most states require candidates for office to disclose their contributions and expenditures. Some states require additional disclosures, such as debts, loans, fundraising sales, in-kind donations, and transfers.
Deadlines for filing campaign finance reports vary across states. Some states require monthly reports (e.g. Florida), quarterly reports (e.g. Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma), or annual reports (e.g. Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota). A few states, like Georgia and North Dakota, also require donations that exceed a specified amount to be reported within 24 or 48 hours.
Filing Requirements by State
Recent Kansas Legislation
Three bills from the 2021 and 2022 Legislative Sessions would have amended the Campaign Finance Act to require candidates for state offices to file reports electronically with the Office of the Secretary of State:
- 2021 HB 2053;
- 2022 HB 2579; and
- 2022 SB 429.
The bills would have included an exemption for cause from the electronic filing requirement, which could have been granted by the Executive Director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. HB 2579 and SB 429 also would have amended the filing deadline for reports due in January from January 10 to the Tuesday following the second Monday in January.
Proponent testimony included the Executive Director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission and a representative from the Office of the Secretary of State. Proponents stated that requiring electronic filing of campaign finance reports would reduce errors and increase agency efficiency because reports could be analyzed automatically.
HB 2053 was stricken from the Calendar by Rule 1507 on March 5, 2021. HB 2579 and SB 429 died on Senate General Orders on May 23, 2022.