OPINION NUMBER - 002
ADOPTED - 1978/01/18
SUBJECT - Campaign Finance
REQUESTED: Judy R. Zaiman
QUESTION: What is the committee status of the Political Action Committee State Election Fund (PACSEF) established by the Omaha National Corporation for purposes of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act? Are there different filing and record keeping requirements for PACSEF if it is determined to be a separate segregated political education fund instead of an independent committee as defined in the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act? If so what are the differences?
Answer Question 1. The PACSEF is a committee subject to filing a Statement of Organization and amendments thereto but may be exempt from completing the portion thereof requiring the name of and office sought by each candidate and a statement identifying substance of each ballot question supported or opposed by the committee.
Answer Question 2. PACSEF is either a "independent" or "other committee" subject to filing a Statement of Organization (NADC Form A-1) and Campaign Statements (NADC Form B-1) and record keeping in connection therewith. If PACSEF is also a separate segregated political education fund, it need not amend or complete the parts of its Statement of Organization pertaining to the names of and offices sought by each candidate nor the ballot questions supported or opposed by such fund committee, nor does it have to disclose any item of expenditure in its campaign reports or keep records with respect to such expenditures for the purpose of this Act.
FACTS: Circumstances: PACSEF filed a Statement of Organization with the Commission on October 6, 1977 as an "Independent Committee (or other)." That Statement of Organization goes on to provide that as of the date of its filing PACSEF neither supports nor opposes any candidates, that PACSEF will file an amendment to its Statement of Organization if this status changes and that PACSEF's contributions and expenditures are limited to state and local elections. In the November 15, 1977, letter requesting this advisory opinion, PACSEF is described as an unincorporated, voluntary association established by Omaha National Corporation, that its members are drawn from Omaha National Corporation's employees, and that its contributions and expenditures are limited to supporting or opposing candidates in state and local elections.
1. Separate segregated political education fund. Whether an entity known as a political action committee is a separate segregated political education fund as that term is used in section 49-1469(3) depends on the facts of the situation. Section 49-1469(3) provides that such a fund may be established and administered by a corporation to be utilized for the sole purpose of making contributions to and expenditures on behalf of candidate or ballot question committees, and further provides that contributions to and expenditures from such a fund are limited to the voluntary contributions of the employees of the corporation under which the fund was established. From the information available to us we assume that the persons constituting the fund committee are employees of the Omaha National Corporation and include at least the persons designated as principal officers in the above-described Statement of Organization. We also assume that contributions have been and will be received by the fund committee only from the employees of the Omaha National Corporation and its subsidiaries, and that expenditures from the fund have been made and will be made only to and on behalf of candidate or ballot question committees.
2. Committee status. A committee as defined in section 49-1413 shall mean a committee that receives contributions or makes expenditures for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence the action of the voters for or against the nomination or election of a candidate. Instructions, Item 3(1) of NADC Form A-1, Statement of Organization, further defines committee as any combination of two or more individuals or persons which receives contributions or makes contributions for the purpose of influencing the action of the voters for or against the nomination or election of a candidate. And, Item 3(6) thereof defines "other committee" as any combination or two or more individuals or persons for whom a major purpose is to receive contributions and to make expenditures in support of or in opposition to one or more candidates for nomination to or election to an elective office. Section 49-1427 defines an independent committee as a committee, other than a political party committee which filed a Statement of Organization as an independent committee at least six months before an election for which it expected to accept contributions or make expenditures in support of or in opposition to a candidate for nomination to or election to a state elective office, and receives contributions from at least 10 persons and made expenditures in support of or in opposition to 3 or more candidates for nomination for or election to a state elective office in the same calendar year. Section 49-1449 requires each committee to file a Statement of Organization within 10 days after it is formed.
Section 49-1446(1) provides that no contributions shall be accepted and no expenditures made by a committee which has filed a Statement of Organization. In view of the foregoing provisions, it is concluded that a separate segregated political education fund may be either an "independent committee" or an "other committee," but in either case, as a committee, it is required to file a NADC Form A-1.
3. Filing requirements. Section 49-1469(3)(c) provides that any contributions or expenditures made from a separate segregated political action fund need not be reported to the Commission, but such contributions or expenditures shall, for reporting purposes, be reported by the candidate, candidate committee, candidate treasurer, political party committee, independent committee, or ballot question committee as otherwise required by law. Section 49-1454 requires all committees to file Campaign Statements.
In view of these provisions it is concluded that a separate segregated political education fund although required to file Campaign Statements (NADC Form B-1) may do so without disclosing thereon any matters related to expenditures. As far as such a fund committee's Statement of Organization (NADC Form A-1) or amendment thereof is concerned, it is concluded that, even though the fund committee must file a Statement of Organization (NADC Form A-1) as indicated above, it is not required to set forth in that Statement of Organization or any amendment thereto the name of and office sought by each candidate or a statement identifying the substance of each ballot question supported or opposed by the fund committee in that support of a andidate or a ballot question committee would be evidenced by the contribution or expenditure thereto which need not be reported pursuant to the provisions of section 49-1469(3)(c). As far the establishment or administration of PACSEF by the Omaha National Corporation, any expenditure it makes or personal services that it makes available for the administration of the fund would be subject to the provisions of sections 49-1469(1) and (2) and would have to be reported by it under Item 6 of NADC Form B-7 keep detailed accounts, etc., necessary to substantiate the information contained in Forms A-1 and B-1, therefore such record keeping with regard to expenditures need not be kept by a separate segregated political education fund.
Adopted as an official advisory opinion by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on the 18th day of January, 1978