OPINION NUMBER -094

ADOPTED - 1986/08/08

SUBJECT - Campaign Finance/Ballot Question

REQUESTED BY: Michael L. Johnson for Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, Inc.

QUESTION: 1. Would the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, Inc. be required to file NADC Form B-7, Report of Political Contributions of a Corporation, under Section 49-1469 of the Accountability Act if it makes only independent expenditures from the funds of the corporation and does not solicit contributions from stockholders or the general public?

2. Please advise as to when the NADC Form B-7 should be filed and whether the form is not required until after a petition is submitted to the Hall County Election Commissioner and the question is placed on the ballot.

3. Based on the facts presented in the request letter, are there other requirements of the Accountability Act with which the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, Inc. should comply?

CONCLUSION

1. Yes

2. See Analysis

3. See Analysis

FACTS

You indicate that you have submitted to the Hall County Election Commissioner a petition to pose a ballot question regarding Sunday racing to Hall County voters at the next general election. Such a petition is authorized under section 2-1213.01 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes, which provides: The voters of any county shall have the right to vote on the question of prohibiting or allowing the conducting of racing on Sunday within such county. The question may be submitted at any general state election whenever petitions calling for its submission, signed by at least ten per cent of the number of persons voting in the county at the last preceding general state election, are presented to the county clerk or election commissioner not less than thirty days prior to the date of such election. The question shall be placed on the ballot in substantially the following form:

SHALL RACING ON SUNDAY BE CONDUCTED IN THE COUNTY OF----YES----NO---

A Majority of the voters voting on the issue shall determine such issue.

You further indicate that should a petition drive commence, the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, Inc. may make expenditures in support of the ballot question.

ANALYSIS

Section 49-1469 of the Accountability Act allows corporations, labor organizations, and industry, trade and professional associations to make expenditures or provide personal services, in assistance of or opposition to the passage of a ballot question. "Ballot question" is defined in section 49-1405 as, ". . . any question which is submitted or intended to be submitted to a popular vote at an election by way of initiative, referendum, or recall, or as a result of legislative action, whether or not it qualifies for the ballot."

First, we believe that a question submitted to county voters under section 2-1213.01 of the Nebraska Statutes qualifies under the Accountability Act as a "ballot question" submitted by way of initiative. See: sections 49-1405 and 49-1464(2).

Under 49-1469(1), a corporation making expenditures or providing personal services supporting or opposing a ballot question must file NADC Form B-7 - Report of Political Contributions of a Corporation, Union, or other Association -with this Commission within ten days after the end of the calendar month in which any expenditure is made or personal service is provided to assist or oppose a ballot question which is submitted or intended to be submitted to a popular vote. See: section 49-1469(1) and section 49-1405 R.R.S. (Reissue 1984).

Finally, you ask whether there are other Accountability Act provisions with which the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association must comply under the circumstances. You indicate that at present the Association does not intend to solicit contributions from its members or from the general public regarding the ballot question. However, be advised that should plans change, the Association would be required to form a separate segregated fund (independent committee) in order to raise funds from its members, but may not form a ballot question committee to raise funds from the general public. Formation of a committee would require filing of a Statement of Organization of a Political Committee (Form A-1) and regular Campaign Statements (Form B-1) with this Commission.

Lastly, we would direct your attention to section 49-1474.01 of the Accountability Act, which prohibits any person or committee from printing, publishing, or distributing informational or campaign materials concerning a ballot question without also including the name of the person or committee responsible for the material. The Livestock Improvement Association should have this requirement in mind if campaign materials concerning the Sunday racing question are produced or distributed.