Guide for City Candidates
WHO MUST FILE?
Any candidate for city office who receives contributions, makes expenditures or incurs debts in excess of $1000 in the campaign. THIS INCLUDES PERSONAL FUNDS OF A CANDIDATE. If the $1000 threshold is exceeded, a filing is required even if the candidate is the only person involved in the campaign. A candidate who exceeds $1000 must register a committee with the Board by filing a Statement of Organization.
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF A COMMITTEE?
Every committee must name a treasurer who is an Iowa resident of majority age. A committee must maintain a separate banking account in an Iowa financial institution, with all campaign receipts and expenditures flowing through this account. (EXCEPTION: A candidate who uses ONLY personal funds and does not accept EVEN ONE DOLLAR from another source is not required to open a separate bank account).
WHERE ARE REPORTS FILED?
Reports are filed with the Board. Effective July 1, 2015, all reports must be filed via the Web Reporting System.
WHEN ARE REPORTS DUE?
A Statement of Organization is due within ten calendar days of crossing the $1000 threshold. A disclosure report is due five days prior to the primary, general, and runoff election and on January 19 of the next year. Click here for reporting due dates for city candidates.
(If a committee remains open in off-election years, reports are also due on January 19 of those years). All reports are due by 4:30 pm of the due date.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO REPORT?
All the money you take in (including personal funds), all the money you spend, all the debts you incur, and all the donated items or services you receive (in-kind contributions) are required to be reported. You must ITEMIZE all expenditures of $5 and over by date spent, full name and complete address of the creditor (list as "unitemized" all receipts and expenses under these amounts).
HOW IS PERSONAL MONEY REPORTED?
Items purchased for the campaign can be reported one of two ways. The first is as a debt owed to the candidate. Debt is reported on Schedule D incurred indebtedness) when reimbursement for the item purchased is expected. The other option is to report the purchase as an in-kind contribution. In-Kind contributions are reported on Schedule E when reimbursement for the item purchased is not expected.
Personal funds deposited in the campaign account can be reported one of two ways. the first is as a loan from the candidate to the committee. A loan is reported on Schedule F (Loans Received & Repaid) when repayment of the funds is expected. The other option is to report the funds as a contribution. Contributions are reported on Schedule A when repayment of the funds deposited is not expected.
CIVIL PENALTIES FOR LATE FILINGS/AUDIT PROCEDURES
Late-filed reports are subject to automatic civil penalties. Additional civil and criminal sanctions may also be imposed.
Candidates may not accept anonymous contributions in excess of $25, or contributions made in the name of another person.
A candidate cannot accept contributions or use the resources of any corporation, bank, savings & loan, credit union, or insurance company (68A.503). However, a candidate may purchase a good or service from a corporation at fair market value.
RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS
Campaign funds may be used only for campaign purposes, officeholder expenses, and constituency services, and cannot be used for personal benefit of the candidate. Transfers may not be made to other candidates or PACs.
CAMPAIGN PROPERTY & DISPOSITION
The law provides that equipment, supplies, and materials purchased with campaign funds become campaign property. Property valued at $100 or more must be accounted for when the committee dissolves. An inventory listing of campaign property with an initial value of $500 or more is kept on Schedule H and included with each report. When a committee dissolves, items with a value of $100 or more must be donated to a charity or political party committee, or sold at fair market value with proceeds donated to one of the above or state of Iowa general fund.
NOTE: A candidate MAY SELL campaign property to another candidate committee at fair market value. A candidate may NOT DONATE campaign property to another candidate unless the candidate is the same person for both committees.
HOW IS A COMMITTEE DISSOLVED?
By filing the final report with an ending zero balance, all debts and obligations satisfied and all campaign property disposed of in accordance with the above. A Statement of Dissolution (DR-3) is also filed.
NOTE: Until a Statement of Dissolution is filed by the committee and approved by the Board, reporting requirements continue even if the committee has no funds or assets.
WHAT IS REQUIRED ON POLITICAL MATERIALS?
See Paid for by attribution brochure.
If the material is paid for before the $1000 threshold is crossed, you have the option to file a DR-SFA for purposes of using a shorter "paid for by" attribution statement.
OTHER APPLICABLE PROVISIONS
See brochures on campaign signs, paid for by attribution, and the city candidate guide by the Iowa League of Cities (available on our site for viewing or download).
See chapter 68A and the Board's rules in 351 - chapter 4 for guidance
This brochure is intended to provide you with general guidance and is not a restatement of the laws or rules and is not intended as legal advice. For additional information, please look at Iowa Code chapter 68A and the Board's rules in Chapter 351 of the Iowa Administrative Code or contact the Board.