TITLE 17
Elections

CHAPTER 17-25
Rhode Island Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting

SECTION 17-25-20


§ 17-25-20 Eligibility criteria for matching public funds.

In order to receive matching public funds under § 17-25-19, a qualifying candidate must comply with the following requirements:

(1) The candidate must sign a statement under oath, as provided for in § 17-25-19, pledging to comply with the limitations on contributions and expenditures for election purposes and with all the terms and conditions set forth in this chapter. Upon the filing of the statement, a candidate for general office shall be bound to abide by the limitations on contributions and expenditures set forth in this chapter and may not withdraw from his or her obligation to abide by these restrictions.

(2)(i) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (ii) of this subdivision, no participating candidate shall either receive or expend for election purposes more than a total of public and private funds in the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) in an election cycle. No participating candidate for general office other than governor shall receive or expend for election purposes more than a total of public and private funds in the sum of three hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($375,000) in an election cycle.

(ii) The limitations on contributions received from private sources, matching funds available from the state, and total permitted expenditures shall apply in the 1994 general election and, subject to appropriations by the general assembly, shall increase by a percentage to be determined by the board of elections in January of each year in which a general election involving general offices is held, beginning in 1998. In no case shall the increase exceed the total increase in the consumer price index since the month in which the previous general election involving general was held.

(3)(i) Only the first two thousand dollars ($2,000) of the aggregate private monetary contributions from a single private source within an election cycle shall be eligible for matching public funds for candidates for governor; provided, that the entire amount contributed shall be considered toward the dollar limits provided in subdivision (2) of this section.

(ii) Only the first one thousand dollars ($1,000) of the aggregate private monetary contributions from a single private source within an election cycle shall be eligible for matching public funds for candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and general treasurer; provided, that the entire amount contributed shall be considered toward the dollar limits provided for in subdivision (2) of this section.

(iii) Any private funds lawfully contributed during the current election cycle shall be eligible for matching public funds subject to the terms and conditions of this section, and private funds donated during a preceding election cycle shall not be eligible for matching public funds.

(4) The direct costs incurred in connection with raising campaign funds on behalf of a candidate shall not be deemed to be expenditures for the purposes of the limitations on expenditures set forth in subdivision (2) of this section. Direct costs shall include costs of printing and mailing invitations to fundraising events, solicitations for contributions, costs of hosting fundraising events, and travel to those events, but shall not include any portion of the salary or wages of campaign employees, nor the cost of any radio, television, computer/Internet/electronic device, or printed advertisement. The cost of a fundraising event must be less than the amount of money realized from the gross proceeds generated by the fundraising event in order to qualify for this exclusion.

(5) If a candidate who has accepted public funds makes expenditures in excess of the permitted amounts, the candidate shall be liable for a civil assessment payable to the state in an amount equal to three (3) times the amount of excess funds expended. In addition, the candidate shall be ineligible for further participation in the public financing program during the same election cycle.

(6) In order to receive payments under this section, any candidate for general office shall first meet the following additional minimum requirements:

(i) Raise an amount in qualified private contributions equal to twenty percent (20%) of the total amount eligible to be matched for election as to the office sought;

(ii) Receive private contributions from a minimum of two hundred fifty (250) individuals contributing at least twenty-five dollars ($25.00) each for candidates for governor and receive private contributions from a minimum of one hundred (100) individuals contributing at least twenty- five dollars ($25.00) each, for candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and general treasurer; and

(iii) Comply with any and all applicable nomination provisions in this title and qualify for the general election ballot pursuant to the process set forth in this title.

(7) No public funds received by any candidate pursuant to §§ 17-25-19 – 17-25-27 of this chapter and no private funds used to qualify for the public funds shall be expended by the candidate for any purpose except to pay reasonable and necessary expenses directly related to the candidate's campaign.

(8) No public funds shall be expended by the candidate, except for one or more of the following uses directly related to the campaign of the candidate:

(i) Purchase of time on radio or television stations; provided, however, the content of all television time shall include captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing and the content of all radio time must be available in a written or text format at the time of request;

(ii) Purchase of rental space on outdoor signs or billboards;

(iii) Purchase of advertising space on the computer/Internet/electronic device and in newspapers and regularly published magazines and periodicals;

(iv) Payment of the cost of producing the material aired or displayed on radio, television, outdoor signs or billboards, and computer/Internet/electronic device and in newspapers, regularly published magazines, and periodicals;

(v) Payment of the cost of printing and mailing campaign literature and brochures;

(vi) Purchase of signs, bumper stickers, campaign buttons, and other campaign paraphernalia;

(vii) Payment of the cost of legal and accounting expenses incurred in complying with the public financing law and regulations as required by this chapter;

(viii) Payment of the cost of telephone deposits, installation charges, and monthly billings in excess of deposits;

(ix) Payment of the costs of public opinion polls and surveys; and

(x) Payment of rent, utilities and associated expenses connected with the operation of an election headquarters or satellite election offices.

(9) Contributions received and expended by any candidate for the purpose of defraying any expense or satisfying any loan obligations incurred prior to January 1, 1991, by the candidate in furtherance of his or her candidacy in a previous election cycle, as defined in subdivision 17-25-3(5), shall not be counted toward any contribution or expenditure limitation in §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27.

(10) No candidate who has elected to receive public funds shall contribute to or loan to his or her own campaign a sum in excess of five percent (5%) of the total amount that a candidate is permitted to expend in a campaign for the office pursuant to §§ 17-25-19 and 17-25-21.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 420, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 345, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 21, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 21, § 3; P.L. 1992, ch. 203, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 78, § 2; P.L. 1998, ch. 31, art. 32, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 223, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 235, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 229, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 230, § 1.)