Campaign Finance FAQ's

The City's Ethics Commission often receives the same or similar inquiries regarding campaign finance.  The following is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice.  Each candidate is responsible for meeting proper reporting requirements.


For all campaign finance questions, we recommend reviewing Chapters 8 and 10 of the City Code and/or consulting with an accountant or legal advisor if you have more concerns regarding these issues.   

I’ve set up an account with an online-only bank. I have thus far only received donations via check, debit and credit card. However, in the event I receive a cash donation, can I use the cash to pay for campaign related expenses if I report it on a campaign expenditure report?
For your cash contributions, you would report them as such. The contribution would follow the same reporting procedure on the Campaign Contributions Report, and under “type” you would specify “cash.” The other piece of this would be to report the purchases made with cash in your Campaign Expenditures Report accompanied with the expense purpose and the receipt.  

I have received contributions through PayPal, which deducts a small percentage of each as a service charge. I can track the contributions and service charges through the PayPal website, and have included that in my expenditure report, but cannot seem to get any form of a receipt or measure of total fees from PayPal. Should I include these fees in my expenditure report and not include a receipt in my filing information?
Fees paid to PayPal or similar fundraising websites do complicate reporting of contributions. The full amount contributed (inclusive of any fee) must be reported on the Campaign Contributions report. For example, PayPal typically charges $3.20 in fees for a $100 contribution; the full $100.00 must be reported as the contribution amount, not the $96.80 received. Total electronic processing fees paid for accepting contributions via PayPal or a similar platform may be reported as an aggregate amount on the Campaign Expenditures report for the contribution period. A copy of the PayPal financial statement showing the total fees paid, or a report of individual contributions with the fee paid for each contribution, will suffice as the receipt to document the processing fee.

I paid for a couple of small items out of pocket before I had a Campaign Bank Account or had started fundraising. I understand I can pay myself back for them, but I'm not sure how to report it. Could you send an example? How do I report this? 

Candidates may reimburse themselves for these expenses, however it must be reported on both the Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reports. The initial purchase would be reported as a Campaign Contribution from yourself for the respective amount. Per Section 8-18, family contributions may be aggregated under one line or total, to ease the reporting process. The reimbursement would be reported as a Campaign Expenditure and would have to be accompanied with the expense purpose (reimbursement) and a receipt.
Upon review, the City of Hyattsville's Ethics Commission has clarified how self-reimbursements should be reported. The payee on the Campaign Expenditure Report should reflect the provider of service rather than "self" or the name of the Candidate.  Updated 4/18/2017 at 10:00 PM. 

I want to make a purchase with my personal credit card for campaign related materials and reimburse myself with funds from my registered Separate Campaign Account. Is this possible, and how could I report this expenditure?
The purchase may be recorded as a personal donation to the campaign. A reimbursement may then be made to yourself from the campaign account. Receipts for the purchase must accompany the campaign report.