September 11, 2003

To all interested persons:

Pursuant to Iowa Code section 68B.32A(11) and rule 351—1.2, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board takes the opportunity to issue its opinion on candidates for state and local office in Iowa being prohibited from using campaign funds to make donations to federal candidates. We note at the outset that the Board’s jurisdiction is limited to the application of Iowa Code chapters 68A and 68B and rules in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 351.


The issue has been raised concerning whether a candidate for state or local office in Iowa is permitted to use campaign funds to make a contribution to a candidate for federal office.

Iowa Code sections 68A.40 through 68A.42 1 limit the use of campaign funds by state and local candidates. Iowa Code section 68A.42(1) in pertinent part states:

“In addition to the uses permitted under section 68A.41, a candidate’s committee may only transfer campaign funds in one or more of the following ways: 2
e. Contributions to another candidate’s committee when the candidate for whom both committees are formed is the same person.”
Subsection (4) of the statute provides: “A candidate or candidate’s committee shall not transfer campaign funds except as provided in this section.”

Based on this language, the Board believes that candidates for state or local office in Iowa are prohibited from using campaign funds to make a contribution to a candidate for federal office unless the candidate for both offices is the same person. 3

The Board will recommend to the General Assembly that the campaign laws be amended to expressly state the Board’s determination in this opinion.

In closing, the Board encourages all candidates to review the permissible and prohibited uses of campaign funds in Iowa Code sections 68A.40 through 68A.42, Board rule 351—4.25, and the following IECDB Advisory Opinions: 2000-04, 2000-07, 2000-09, 2000-10, 2000-12, 2000-14, 2000-16, 2000-26, 2001-03, 2002-17, 2003-05, 2003-12, 2003-14, and 2003-16. 4


James Albert, Board Chair
1st Vice-Chair Geraldine Leinen
2nd Vice-Chair Gwen Boeke
Mark McCormick
Bernie McKinley
Phyllis Peters

Submitted by: W. Charles Smithson, Board Legal Counsel

1 Effective July 1, 2003, the campaign laws were renumbered from Chapter 56 to Chapter 68A.
2 Iowa Code section 68A.41 is silent on the issue of a candidate using his or her campaign funds to make a contribution to another candidate.
3 See Iowa Code section 68A.40 and Board rule 351—4.25(1)“h” that permit an exception for the purchase of tickets to meals that enhance the “person’s candidacy or the candidacy of another person.”
4 Several of these opinions are in the process of being adopted into rule 351—4.25. See the July 23, 2003, Iowa Administrative Bulletin and ARC 2633B.


*modified in Opinion 2004-12