The North Carolina Public Campaign Fund.
§ 163-278.61. Purpose of the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund.
The purpose of this Article is to ensure the fairness of democratic elections in North Carolina and to protect the constitutional rights of voters and candidates from the detrimental effects of increasingly large amounts of money being raised and spent to influence the outcome of elections, those effects being especially problematic in elections of the judiciary, since impartiality is uniquely important to the integrity and credibility of the courts. Accordingly, this Article establishes the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund as an alternative source of campaign financing for candidates who demonstrate public support and voluntarily accept strict fund-raising and spending limits. This Article is available to candidates for justice of the Supreme Court and judge of the Court of Appeals in elections to be held in 2004 and thereafter. (2002-158, s. 1; 2005-276, s. 23A.1(d).)
§ 163-278.62. Definitions.
The following definitions apply in this Article:
(1) Board. - The State Board of Elections.
(2) Candidate. - An individual who becomes a candidate as described in G.S. 163-278.6(4). The term includes a political committee authorized by the candidate for that candidate's election.
(3) Certified candidate. - A candidate running for office who chooses to receive campaign funds from the Fund and who is certified under G.S. 163-278.64(c).
(4) Contested primary and contested general election. - An election in which there are more candidates than the number to be elected. A distribution from the Fund pursuant to this Article is not a "contribution" and is not subject to the limitations of G.S. 163-278.13 or the prohibitions of G.S. 163-278.15 or G.S. 163-278.19.
(5) Contribution. - Defined in G.S. 163-278.6. A distribution from the Fund pursuant to this Article is not a "contribution" and is not subject to the limitations of G.S. 163-278.13 or the prohibitions of G.S. 163-278.15 or 163-278.19.
(5a) Electioneering communication. - As defined in G.S. 163-278.6, except that it is made during the period beginning 30 days before absentee ballots become available for a primary and ending on primary election day and during the period 60 days before absentee ballots become available for a general election and ending on general election day.
(6) Expenditure. - Defined in G.S. 163-278.6.
(7) Fund. - The North Carolina Public Campaign Fund established in G.S. 163-278.63.
(8) Independent expenditure. - Defined in G.S. 163-278.6.
(9) Maximum qualifying contributions. - An amount of qualifying contributions equal to 60 times the filing fee for candidacy for the office.
(10) Minimum qualifying contributions. - An amount of qualifying contributions equal to 30 times the filing fee for candidacy for the office.
(11) Nonparticipating candidate. - A candidate running for office who is not seeking to be certified under G.S. 163-278.64(c).
(12) Office. - A position on the North Carolina Court of Appeals or North Carolina Supreme Court.
(13) Participating candidate. - A candidate for office who has filed a declaration of intent to participate under G.S. 163-278.64.
(14) Political committee. - Defined in G.S. 163-278.6.
(15) Qualifying contribution. - A contribution of not less than ten dollars ($10.00) and not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) in the form prescribed for noncash monetary contributions in G.S. 163-278.14(b) to the candidate or the candidate's committee that meets both of the following conditions:
a. Made by an individual who is a registered voter in this State at the time of the submittal of the report specified in G.S. 163-278.64(c).
b. Made during the qualifying period and obtained with the approval of the candidate or candidate's committee.
(16) Qualifying period. - The period beginning September 1 in the year before the election and ending on the day of the primary of the election year.
(17) Referendum committee. - Defined in G.S. 163-278.6.
(18) Trigger for matching funds. - The dollar amount at which matching funds are released for certified candidates. In the case of a primary, the trigger equals the maximum qualifying contributions for participating candidates. In the case of a contested general election, the trigger equals the base level of funding available under G.S. 163-278.65(b)(4). (2002-158, s. 1; 2005-276, s. 23A.1(d); 2007-510, ss. 1(c), 1(d); 2009-543, s. 1; 2010-170, s. 12.)
§ 163-278.63. North Carolina Public Campaign Fund established; sources of funding.
(a) Establishment of Fund. - The North Carolina Public Campaign Fund is established to finance the election campaigns of certified candidates for office and to pay administrative and enforcement costs of the Board related to this Article. The Fund is a special, dedicated, nonlapsing, nonreverting fund. All expenses of administering this Article, including production and distribution of the Voter Guide required by G.S. 163-278.69 and personnel and other costs incurred by the Board, including public education about the Fund, shall be paid from the Fund and not from the General Fund. Any interest generated by the Fund is credited to the Fund. The Board shall administer the Fund.
(b) Sources of Funding. - Money received from all the following sources must be deposited in the Fund:
(1) Money from the North Carolina Candidates Financing Fund.
(2) Designations made to the Public Campaign Fund by individual taxpayers pursuant to G.S. 105-159.2.
(3) Repealed by Session Laws 2005-276, s. 23A.1(c), effective January 1, 2006.
(4) Public Campaign Fund revenues distributed for an election that remain unspent or uncommitted at the time the recipient is no longer a certified candidate in the election.
(5) Money ordered returned to the Public Campaign Fund in accordance with G.S. 163-278.70.
(6) Voluntary donations made directly to the Public Campaign Fund. Corporations, other business entities, labor unions, and professional associations may make donations to the Fund.
(7) Money collected from the fifty-dollar ($50.00) surcharge on attorney membership fees in G.S. 84-34.
(c) Determination of Fund Amount. - By October 1, 2003, and every two years thereafter, the Board shall prepare and provide to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations of the General Assembly a report documenting, evaluating, and making recommendations relating to the administration, implementation, and enforcement of this Article. In its report, the Board shall set out the funds received to date and the expected needs of the Fund for the next election. (2002-158, s. 1; 2005-276, s. 23A.1 (c), (d); 2006-192, s. 14.1; 2011-266, s. 1.2(b).)
§ 163-278.64. Requirements for participation; certification of candidates.
(a) Declaration of Intent to Participate. - Any individual choosing to receive campaign funds from the Fund shall first file with the Board a declaration of intent to participate in the act as a candidate for a stated office. The declaration of intent shall be filed before or during the qualifying period and before collecting any qualifying contributions. In the declaration, the candidate shall swear or affirm that only one political committee, identified with its treasurer, shall handle all contributions, expenditures, and obligations for the participating candidate and that the candidate will comply with the contribution and expenditure limits set forth in subsection (d) of this section and all other requirements set forth in this Article or adopted by the Board. Failure to comply is a violation of this Article.
(b) Demonstration of Support of Candidacy. - Participating candidates who seek certification to receive campaign funds from the Fund shall first, during the qualifying period, obtain qualifying contributions from at least 350 registered voters in an aggregate sum that at least equals the amount of minimum qualifying contributions described in G.S. 163-278.62(10) but that does not exceed the amount of maximum qualifying contributions described in G.S. 163-278.62(9).
No payment, gift, anything of value, or the opportunity to win anything of value shall be given in exchange for a qualifying contribution.
(c) Certification of Candidates. - Upon receipt of a submittal of the record of demonstrated support by a participating candidate, the Board shall determine whether or not the candidate has complied with all the following requirements:
(1) Signed and filed a declaration of intent to participate in this Article.
(2) Submitted a report itemizing the appropriate number of qualifying contributions received from registered voters, which the Board shall verify through a random sample or other means it adopts. The report shall include the county of residence of each registered voter listed.
(3) Filed a valid notice of candidacy pursuant to Article 25 of this Chapter.
(4) Otherwise met the requirements for participation in this Article.
The Board shall certify candidates complying with the requirements of this section as soon as possible and no later than five business days after receipt of a satisfactory record of demonstrated support.
(d) Restrictions on Contributions and Expenditures for Participating and Certified Candidates. - The following restrictions shall apply to contributions and expenditures with respect to participating and certified candidates:
(1) Beginning January 1 of the year before the election and before the filing of a declaration of intent, a candidate for office may accept in contributions up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) from sources and in amounts permitted by Article 22A of this Chapter and may expend up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for any campaign purpose. A candidate who exceeds either of these limits shall be ineligible to file a declaration of intent or receive funds from the Public Campaign Fund.
(2) From the filing of a declaration of intent through the end of the qualifying period, a candidate may accept only qualifying contributions, contributions under ten dollars ($10.00) from North Carolina voters, and personal and family contributions permitted under subdivision (4) of this subsection. The total contributions the candidate may accept during this period shall not exceed the maximum qualifying contributions for that candidate. In addition to these contributions, the candidate may only expend during this period the remaining money raised pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and possible matching funds received pursuant to G.S. 163-278.67. Except for personal and family contributions permitted under subdivision (4) of this subsection, multiple contributions from the same contributor to the same candidate shall not exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00).
(3) After the qualifying period and through the date of the general election, the candidate shall expend only the funds the candidate receives from the Fund pursuant to G.S. 163-278.65(b)(4) plus any funds remaining from the qualifying period and possible matching funds.
(4) During the qualifying period, the candidate may contribute up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) of that candidate's own money to the campaign. Debt incurred by the candidate for a campaign expenditure shall count toward that limit. The candidate may accept in contributions one thousand dollars ($1,000) from each member of that candidate's family consisting of spouse, parent, child, brother, and sister. Up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) of a contribution from the candidate's family member may be treated as a qualifying contribution if it meets the requirements of G.S. 163-278.62(15)a. and b.
(5) A candidate and the candidate's committee shall limit the use of all revenues permitted by this subsection to expenditures for campaign-related purposes only. The Board shall publish guidelines outlining permissible campaign-related expenditures. In establishing those guidelines, the Board shall differentiate expenditures that reasonably further a candidate's campaign from expenditures for personal use that would be incurred in the absence of the candidacy. In establishing the guidelines, the Board shall review relevant provisions of G.S. 163-278.42(e), the Federal Election Campaign Act, and rules adopted pursuant to it, and similar provisions in other states.
(6) Any contribution received by a participating or certified candidate that falls outside that permitted by this subsection shall be returned to the donor as soon as practicable. Contributions intentionally made, solicited, or accepted in violation of this Article are subject to civil penalties as specified in G.S. 163-278.70. The funds involved shall be forfeited to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund.
(7) A candidate shall return to the Fund any amount distributed for an election that is unspent and uncommitted at the date of the election, or at the time the individual ceases to be a certified candidate, whichever occurs first. For accounting purposes, all qualifying, personal, and family contributions shall be considered spent before revenue from the Fund is spent or committed.
(e) Revocation. - A candidate may revoke, in writing to the Board, a decision to participate in the Public Campaign Fund at any time before the deadline set by the Board for the candidate's submission of information for the Voter Guide described in G.S. 163-278.69. After a timely revocation, that candidate may accept and expend outside the limits of this Article without violating this Article. Within 10 days after revocation, a candidate shall return to the Board all money received from the Fund. (2002-158, s. 1; 2004-203, s. 60; 2005-276, s. 23A.1(d); 2005-430, ss. 4, 5; 2007-510, s. 1(c); 2009-543, ss. 2, 3.)
§ 163-278.64A. Special participation provisions for candidates in vacancy elections.
(a) Participation Provisions Modified. - Candidates involved in elections described in G.S. 163-329 may participate in the Fund subject to the provisions of G.S. 163-278.64 as modified by this section. The Board shall adapt other provisions of this Article, including G.S. 163-278.67, to those elections.
(b) Qualifying. - The State Board of Elections shall designate a special qualifying period of no less than four weeks for these candidates, beginning at the close of the notice-of-candidacy filing period. To receive certification, a participating candidate shall raise at least 225 qualifying contributions, totaling at least 20 times the amount of the filing fee for the office, for a four-week qualifying period. If the State Board of Elections sets a longer qualifying period, then for each additional week that the qualifying period extends beyond four weeks, the minimum number of qualifying contributions required for certification shall increase by 25, and the minimum amount of the qualifying contributions shall increase by two times the filing fee. The minimum qualifying contributions shall not exceed the limit set by G.S. 163-278.64(b).
(c) Allocations. - Certified candidates shall receive one percent (1%) of the funding to which they would be eligible under G.S. 163-278.65 times the number of calendar days between the end of the special qualifying period and the day of the general election. That amount shall not exceed one hundred percent (100%) of the funding to which they would be eligible under G.S. 163-278.65. (2006-192, s. 10.)
§ 163-278.65. Distribution from the Fund.
(a) Timing of Fund Distribution. - The Board shall distribute to a certified candidate revenue from the Fund in an amount determined under subdivision (b)(4) of this section within five business days after the certified candidate's name is approved to appear on the ballot in a contested general election, but no earlier than five business days after the primary.
(b) Amount of Fund Distribution. - By August 1, 2003, and no less frequently than every two years thereafter, the Board shall determine the amount of funds, rounded to the nearest one hundred dollars ($100.00), to be distributed to certified candidates as follows:
(1) Uncontested primaries. - No funds shall be distributed.
(2) Contested primaries. - No funds shall be distributed except as provided in G.S. 163-278.67.
(3) Uncontested general elections. - No funds shall be distributed.
(4) Contested general elections. - Funds shall be distributed to a certified candidate for a position on the Court of Appeals in an amount equal to 125 times the candidate's filing fee as set forth in G.S. 163-107. Funds shall be distributed to a certified candidate for a position on the Supreme Court in an amount equal to 175 times the candidate's filing fee as set forth in G.S. 163-107.
(c) Method of Fund Distribution. - The Board, in consultation with the State Treasurer and the State Controller, shall develop a rapid, reliable method of conveying funds to certified candidates. In all cases, the Board shall distribute funds to certified candidates in a manner that is expeditious, ensures accountability, and safeguards the integrity of the Fund. If the money in the Fund is insufficient to fully fund all certified candidates, then the available money shall be distributed proportionally, according to each candidate's eligible funding, and the candidate may raise additional money in the same manner as a noncertified candidate for the same office up to the unfunded amount of the candidate's eligible funding. (2002-158, s. 1; 2006-192, s. 11.)
§ 163-278.66. Reporting requirements.
(a) Reporting by Noncertified Candidates and Other Entities. - Any noncertified candidate with a certified opponent shall report total contributions received to the Board by facsimile machine or electronically within 24 hours after the total amount of contributions received exceeds eighty percent (80%) of the trigger for matching funds as defined in G.S. 163-278.62(18). Any entity making independent expenditures in support of or opposition to a certified candidate or in support of a candidate opposing a certified candidate, or paying for electioneering communications, referring to one of those candidates, shall report the total expenditures or payments made to the Board by facsimile machine or electronically within 24 hours after the total amount of expenditures or payments made for the purpose of making the independent expenditures or electioneering communications exceeds five thousand dollars ($5,000). After the initial 24-hour filing, the noncertified candidate or other reporting entity shall comply with an expedited reporting schedule. The schedule and forms for reports required by this subsection shall be supplied by the Board.
(b) Reporting by Participating and Certified Candidates. - Notwithstanding other provisions of law, participating and certified candidates shall report any money received, including all previously unreported qualifying contributions, all campaign expenditures, obligations, and related activities to the Board according to procedures developed by the Board. A certified candidate who ceases to be certified or ceases to be a candidate or who loses an election shall file a final report with the Board and return any unspent revenues received from the Fund. In developing these procedures, the Board shall utilize existing campaign reporting procedures whenever practical.
(c) Timely Access to Reports. - The Board shall ensure prompt public access to the reports received in accordance with this Article. The Board may utilize electronic means of reporting and storing information. (2002-158, s. 1; 2003-278, s. 2; 2006-192, s. 12; 2007-510, s. 1(a), (c); 2008-150, s. 10.2(a); 2009-570, s. 25.)
§ 163-278.67. Matching funds.
(a) When Matching Funds Become Available. - When any report or group of reports shows that "funds in opposition to a certified candidate or in support of an opponent to that candidate" as described in this section, exceed the trigger for matching funds as defined in G.S. 163-278.62(18), the Board shall issue immediately to that certified candidate an additional amount equal to the reported excess within the limits set forth in this section. "Funds in opposition to a certified candidate or in support of an opponent to that candidate" shall be equal to the sum of subdivisions (1) and (2) as follows:
(1) The greater of the following:
a. Campaign expenditures or obligations made, or funds raised or borrowed, whichever is greater, reported by any one nonparticipating candidate who is an opponent of a certified candidate. Where a certified candidate has more than one nonparticipating candidate as an opponent, the measure shall be taken from the nonparticipating candidate showing the highest relevant dollar amount.
b. The funds distributed in accordance with G.S. 163-278.65(b) to a certified opponent of the certified candidate.
(2) The aggregate total of all expenditures and payments reported in accordance with G.S. 163-278.66(a) of entities making independent expenditures or electioneering communications in opposition to the certified candidate or in support of any opponent of that certified candidate.
(b) Limit on Matching Funds Before Date of Primary. - Total matching funds to a certified candidate before the date of the primary shall be limited to an amount equal to two times the maximum qualifying contributions for the office sought. Matching funds are available to a certified candidate with an opponent in the primary or to a certified candidate who is clearly referred to in expenditures reportable under G.S. 163-278.65 made in opposition to that candidate.
(c) Limit on Matching Funds in Contested General Election. - Total matching funds to a certified candidate in a contested general election shall be limited to an amount equal to two times the amount described in G.S. 163-278.65(b)(4).
(c1) Expedited Distribution of Matching Funds. - When a candidate becomes entitled to any amount of matching funds under subsection (a) of this section, the Board shall authorize the issuance of that amount to the candidate as soon as practicable. The Department of Administration shall transfer that amount to the candidate as soon as practicable and in no event later than 12 hours after receiving notice from the Board that the candidate has become entitled to it. The Department of Administration shall develop a method of rapidly transferring funds to a candidate or otherwise fulfilling the requirements of this subsection in conjunction with the Board. The candidate shall return to the Board as soon as practicable any amount of the matching funds that the candidate has not spent at the date of the election or at the time the individual ceases to be a certified candidate, whichever occurs first.
(d) Determinations by Board. - In the case of electioneering communications, the Board shall determine which candidate, if any, is entitled to receive matching funds as a result of the communication. The Board shall issue matching funds based on the communication only if it ascertains that the communication is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate. In making its determination, the Board shall not consider evidence external to the communication itself of the intent of the sponsor or the effect of the communication. The Board shall notify each candidate it determines is entitled to receive matching funds based on those communications, the sponsor of those communications, and any candidate who is an opponent of the candidate it determines is entitled to the matching funds. The Board shall give the sponsor of the communication and any opposing candidate an adequate opportunity to rebut the determination of the Board. In considering the rebuttal, all candidates in the race and the sponsor shall be given adequate and equal opportunity to be heard. The Board shall adopt procedures for implementing this subsection, balancing in those procedures adequacy of opportunity to rebut and adequacy and equality of opportunity to be heard on the rebuttal with the need to expedite the decision on awarding matching funds. The Board shall distribute the matching funds, if any, at the conclusion of its process.
(e) Proportional Measuring of Multicandidate Communications. - In calculating the amount of matching funds a certified candidate is eligible to receive under this section, the Board shall include the proportion of expenditures, obligations, or payments for multicandidate communications that pertain to the candidate.
(f) No Matching Funds for Certain Communications Involving All Candidates. - No matching funds are available under this section as a result of an expenditure that supports all candidates for the same office or opposes all candidates for the same office. No matching funds are available under this section as a result of an electioneering communication that the Board ascertains is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for all candidates for the same office or to vote against all candidates for the same office. (2002-158, s. 1; 2007-510, s. 1(b); 2008-150, s. 7(b); 2009-543, ss. 4, 5; 2010-96, s. 36.)
§ 163-278.68: Repealed by Session Laws 2011-266, s. 1.2(a), effective July 1, 2011.
§ 163-278.69. Voter education.
(a) Judicial Voter Guide. - The Board shall publish a Judicial Voter Guide that explains the functions of the appellate courts and the laws concerning the election of appellate judges, the purpose and function of the Public Campaign Fund, and the laws concerning voter registration. The Board shall distribute the Guide to as many voting-age individuals in the State as practical, through a mailing to all residences or other means it deems effective. The distribution shall occur no more than 28 days nor fewer than seven days before the one-stop voting period provided in G.S. 163-227.2 for the primary and no more than 28 days nor fewer than seven days before the one-stop voting period provided in G.S. 163-227.2 for the general election.
(b) Candidate Information. - The Judicial Voter Guide shall include information concerning all candidates for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, as provided by those candidates according to a format provided to the candidates by the Board. The Board shall request information for the Guide from each candidate according to the following format:
(1) Place of residence.
(5) Date admitted to the bar.
(6) Legal/judicial experience.
(7) Candidate statement. Concerning that statement, the Board shall send to the candidates instructions as follows: "Your statement may include information such as your qualifications, your endorsements, your ratings, why you are seeking judicial office, why you would make a good judge, what distinguishes you from your opponent(s), your acceptance of spending and fund-raising limits to qualify to receive funds from the Public Campaign Fund, and any other information relevant to your candidacy. The State Board of Elections will reject any portion of any statement which it determines contains obscene, profane, or defamatory language. The candidate shall have three days to resubmit the candidate statement if the Board rejects a portion of the statement.
The entire entry for a candidate shall be limited to 250 words.
(c) Disclaimer. - The Judicial Voter Guide shall contain the following statement: "Statements by candidates do not express or reflect the opinions of the State Board of Elections." (2002-158, s. 1; 2005-276, s. 23A.1(d); 2005-430, s. 6; 2006-192, s. 14; 2007-391, s. 4(a); 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2009-543, s. 6.)
§ 163-278.70. Civil penalty.
In addition to any other penalties that may be applicable, any individual, political committee, or other entity that violates any provision of this Article is subject to a civil penalty of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per violation or three times the amount of any financial transactions involved in the violation, whichever is greater. In addition to any fine, for good cause shown, a candidate found in violation of this Article may be required to return to the Fund all amounts distributed to the candidate from the Fund. If the Board makes a determination that a violation of this Article has occurred, the Board shall calculate and assess the amount of the civil penalty and shall notify the entity that is assessed the civil penalty of the amount that has been assessed. The Board shall then proceed in the manner prescribed in G.S. 163-278.34. In determining whether or not a candidate is in violation of this Article, the Board may consider as a mitigating factor any circumstances out of the candidate's control. (2002-158, s. 1.)
§§ 163-278.71 through 163-278.79: Reserved for future codification purposes.