Georgia State Ethics Commission
Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act
To ensure transparency in Georgia government, including municipal elections, the Georgia state legislature passed the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act in 2010. It sought to improve upon the work performed by the State Ethics Commission.
Ensuring transparency in government means that all forms of Georgia candidates—including candidates for municipal office—must disclose:
- Campaign contributions and expenditures for people seeking election or involved in a recall election.
- Contributions and expenditures related to influencing voters to approve or reject a “proposed constitutional amendment, a state-wide referendum, or a proposed question which is to appear on the ballot in any county or municipal election.”
- Any private interests that may impact how voters perceive a candidate running for public office.
Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act – 2018 Edition
A municipal clerk may find themselves holding two roles, one role, or no roles when it comes to elections. The clerk may be the qualifying officer for an election and the filing officer for the disclosure reports, or may just serve in one of those roles, or neither. Your role will depend on your city and any agreements your city may have on these roles. Most municipal clerks will serve as the filing officer for disclosure reports.
Filing Officer Roles and Responsibilities
According to the GeorgiaGov website, “A candidate for a public office or the chairperson or treasurer of such candidate’s campaign committee shall sign and file the required disclosure reports with the election superintendent in the county of election or with the municipal clerk in the municipality of election…”
As a municipal clerk, you serve as the filing officer for these disclosure reports (unless your city has an agreement with your county that says otherwise). You will accept them from the candidates and upload the forms on the Georgia Ethics Commission website. While you are the party responsible for ensuring transmission of the forms, the candidates are responsible for filling out the following forms:
- Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions—Form DOI: This form is only for candidates who currently do not hold office and must be filed before accepting contributions. This form must be filed prior to or at qualifying.
- Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports—CCDR: There are different requirements for filing depending on the amount of campaign contributions accepted. Read more details about these requirements.
- Personal Financial Disclosure Statement—PFD: This form is required to be filled out and submitted within fifteen (15) days of qualifying in election years or before July 1 in non-election years.
- Two Business Day Reports—TBD. These reports require the disclosure of all contributions (including loans) of $1,000.00 or more. This report is only used during the reporting period from the last Campaign Report due date and the date of the election. They must be reported within two business days of the receipt of the contribution.
- Affidavit of a Candidate’s Intent Not To Exceed $2,500.00 in Contributions and/or Expenditures: These affidavits are used when candidates do not intend to accept or spend over $2,500.00. This report relieves candidates from filing the Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports unless they go over $2,500.00.
- Final Report and Termination Statement: These are due 10 days after a campaign dissolves.
Review the complete list of filing forms. Here, you will find forms for:
- Campaign Finance Disclosures
- Campaign Contribution Disclosures
- Personal Financial Disclosures
Review all form deadlines.
Once you receive these documents from candidates, GeorgiaGov offers the following checklist for you to follow:
- “Check the document for completion.
- Date stamp when the document is received.
- Maintain reports for public inspection 5 years from received date.
- Upload a copy of each form and report to the Ethics Commission website.
- Ensure all pages are attached and addressed.
- Retain envelope with document.”
Election superintendents and city clerks shall transmit the following forms to the Commission through the e-file system:
1. A Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions no later than 10 days after receipt of such notice.
2. An Affidavit of a Candidate’s Intent Not to Exceed $2,500.00 in Contributions and/or Expenditures no later than 10 days after receipt of such notice.
3. A copy of each of the following reports:
- CCDR: eFax to the Commission no later than 30 days after the close of each grace period.
- PFD: eFax to the Commission no later than 30 days from the close of the reporting period.
- TBD: eFax to the Commission no later than 10 days from the close of the reporting period.
Qualifying Officer Roles and Responsibilities
Qualifying officers qualify candidates for election, and this is separate from your role as filing officer.
According to Georgia state law, “A Qualifying Officer shall notify the Commission of the names and addresses of all candidates and offices sought in any election within ten days of the close of the qualification period.” A qualifying officer has the responsibility of informing the state ethics commission about candidates running for office as well as reporting the outcome within ten days of an election. This role is different from the filing officer, who simply receives and submits all forms for the candidate.
You must use the state’s e-file system for reporting candidates and results of elections.