Rhode Island Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting

SECTION 17-25-28

§ 17-25-28. Board of elections – Regulation and auditing of matching fund program.

In addition to all other powers and duties established by law, the board of elections is empowered to adopt and enforce rules, regulations, and auditing procedures required to fulfill the mandates of §§ 17-25-19 – 17-25-27. The board is empowered, among other things, to:

(1) Ascertain whether any contributions to or expenditures for candidates for general office have exceeded limits prescribed by §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27. Ascertain the amount and source of contributions received and expenditures made by all candidates for general offices, whether or not the candidate chose to participate in public financing.

(2) Issue advisory opinions upon its own initiative or upon application of any candidate.

(3)(i) Conduct investigations and/or hearings relative to alleged violations of §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27, either on its own initiative or upon receipt of a verified written complaint, which complaint shall, under pain and penalty of perjury, be based upon actual knowledge and not merely on information and belief.

(ii) Upon receipt of a verified written complaint, or upon receipt of evidence which is deemed sufficient by the board, the board may initiate a preliminary investigation into any alleged violation of §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27. All board proceedings and records relating to a preliminary investigation shall be confidential, except that the board may turn over to the attorney general evidence that may be used in a criminal proceeding. The board shall notify any person who is the subject of the preliminary investigation of the existence of the investigation and the general nature of the alleged violation by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, within seven (7) days of the commencement of the investigation.

(iii) If a preliminary investigation fails to indicate reasonable cause for belief that §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27 have been violated, the board shall immediately terminate the investigation and notify, in writing, the complainant, if any, and the person who had been the subject of the investigation.

(iv) If a preliminary investigation indicates reasonable cause for belief that §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27 have been violated, the board may, upon a majority vote, initiate a full investigation and appropriate proceedings to determine whether there has been a violation.

(v) All testimony in board proceedings shall be under oath. All parties shall have the right to call and examine witnesses, to introduce exhibits, to cross-examine witnesses who testify, to submit evidence, and to be represented by counsel. Before testifying, all witnesses shall be given a copy of the regulations governing board proceedings. All witnesses shall be entitled to be represented by counsel.

(vi) Any person whose name is mentioned during a proceeding of the board and who may be adversely affected by it may appear personally before the board on his or her own behalf or file a written statement for incorporation into the record of the proceeding.

(vii) Within fourteen (14) days after the end of proceedings, the board shall meet in executive session for the purpose of reviewing the evidence before it. Within thirty (30) days after completion of deliberations, the board shall publish a written report of its findings and conclusions.

(viii)(A) Upon a finding that there has been a violation of §§ 17-25-18 – 17-25-27 or any other campaign finance law, the board may issue an order requiring the violator to:

(I) Cease and desist from the violation;

(II) File any report, statements or other information as required by this chapter; and/or

(III) Pay a civil fine for each violation of any section of this chapter in an amount authorized by that section or, if no authorization exists, in amount not to exceed the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or three (3) times the amount the violator failed to properly report or unlawfully contributed, expended, gave, or received.

(B) The board may turn over to the attorney general any evidence that may be used in a subsequent criminal proceeding against any violator.

(ix) The board may file a civil action in superior court to enforce an order issued by it pursuant to this section.

(x) Any final action by the board made pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to review in superior court upon petition of any interested person filed within thirty (30) days after the action for which review is sought. The court shall enter a judgment enforcing, modifying, or setting aside the order of the board, or it may remand the proceeding to the board for any further action that the court may decide.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 420, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 345, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 21, § 3; P.L. 2001, ch. 176, § 2.)