TITLE 17
Elections

CHAPTER 17-25
Rhode Island Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting

SECTION 17-25-5


   § 17-25-5  Duties and powers of the board of elections. – (a) The board of elections is authorized to perform any duties that are necessary to implement the provisions of this chapter. Without limiting the generality of this provision, the board is authorized and empowered to:

   (1) Develop forms for the making of the required reports to be filed with the board of elections, which form shall contain a notice setting forth the times and dates when reports are required to be filed;

   (2) Prepare and publish a manual for all candidates, political party committees, political action committees and ballot questions advocates prescribing the requirements of the law, including uniform methods of bookkeeping and reporting and requirements as to the length of time that any person required to keep any records pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall retain these records, or any class or category of records, or any other documents;

   (3) Adopt rules and regulations to carry out the purposes of this chapter;

   (4)(i) Prepare and make available for public inspection, through the office of the board of elections, summaries of all reports grouped according to candidates and political parties;

   (ii) Make all campaign finance reports available electronically on the board of election's website no later than two (2) business days after the reports are received by the board of elections;

   (iii) Take any steps that may be necessary or appropriate to make all campaign finance reports available in an electronic searchable format on the board of election's website no later than one business day after the reports are received by the board of elections commencing with the first quarterly reporting period in 2010.

   (5) Prepare and publish, prior to May 1 or as soon as practicable thereafter of each year, an annual report to the general assembly;

   (6) Ascertain whether candidates or political party committees, political action committees or ballot questions advocates, have failed to file reports or have filed defective reports; and may for good cause shown extend the dates upon which reports are required to be filed;

   (7)(i) Conduct confidential investigations and/or closed hearings in accordance with this title relative to alleged violations of this chapter 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. Upon completion of its investigation and/or hearings, if the board has reason to believe that a violation of this chapter has occurred or that a complainant has willfully sworn or affirmed falsely, the chairperson of the board of elections is authorized to and shall issue to the person found to be in violation of this chapter a summons pursuant to § 12-7-11 to appear before the division of the district court where the person resides and shall be prosecuted by the attorney general. Any action taken by the board as a result of a written verified complaint shall, whenever possible, be completed no later than five (5) business days after its receipt, and if no violation is found to exist, all records and papers shall be kept confidential unless further legal proceedings are instituted.

   (ii) The confidentiality of an audit, investigation, hearing, and/or findings may be waived in writing only by the person or persons complained of or audited. However, once an audit is complete and presented to the board, the audit will be a matter of public record.

   (8) Conduct compliance reviews and audits of campaign accounts as necessary, and in a manner consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

   (b) The board of elections shall take any steps that may be necessary or appropriate to furnish timely and adequate information, in appropriate printed summaries and in any other form that it may see fit, to every candidate or prospective candidate for public office who becomes or is likely to become subject to the provisions of this chapter, and to every treasurer duly designated under the provisions of this chapter, informing them of their actual or prospective obligations and responsibilities under this chapter.

   (c)(1) The board of elections is authorized, upon written request, to render written advisory opinions as to whether a given set of facts and circumstances set forth in the request would constitute a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, or whether a given set of facts and circumstances set forth in the request would render any person subject to any of the reporting requirements of this chapter; provided, that the requirement for a written opinion may be voluntarily waived by the candidate or committee.

   (2) Unless an extension of time is consented to by any person who submits a written request for an advisory opinion, the board of elections shall, whenever possible, render its written advisory opinion within five (5) business days of receipt of the request.

   (d)(1) For each quarterly report required to be filed, the board shall send a postcard by regular mail to each person and entity required to file a report, which will notify the person or entity that a report required to be filed is due within fourteen (14) days.

   (2) The failure to receive this notice shall not absolve the person or entity of the reporting requirements contained in this chapter.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1974, ch. 298, § 1; P.L. 1981, ch. 188, § 1; P.L. 1982, ch. 347, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 108, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 176, § 2; P.L. 2006, ch. 174, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 292, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 529, § 1.)