106.141 Disposition of surplus funds by candidates.—
(1) Except as provided in subsection (6), each candidate who withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes an unopposed candidate, or is eliminated as a candidate or elected to office shall, within 90 days, dispose of the funds on deposit in his or her campaign account and file a report reflecting the disposition of all remaining funds. Such candidate may not accept any contributions, nor may any person accept contributions on behalf of such candidate, after the candidate withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes unopposed, or is eliminated or elected. However, if a candidate receives a refund check after all surplus funds have been disposed of, the check may be endorsed by the candidate and the refund disposed of under this section. An amended report must be filed showing the refund and subsequent disposition.
(2) Any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section may, before such disposition, be reimbursed by the campaign, in full or in part, for any reported contributions by the candidate to the campaign.
(3) The campaign treasurer of a candidate who withdraws his or her candidacy, becomes unopposed, or is eliminated as a candidate or elected to office and who has funds on deposit in a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit shall, within 7 days after the date of becoming unopposed or the date of such withdrawal, elimination, or election, transfer such funds and the accumulated interest earned thereon to the campaign account of the candidate for disposal under this section. However, if the funds are in an account in which penalties will apply for withdrawal within the 7-day period, the campaign treasurer shall transfer such funds and the accumulated interest earned thereon as soon as the funds can be withdrawn without penalty, or within 90 days after the candidate becomes unopposed, withdraws his or her candidacy, or is eliminated or elected, whichever comes first.
(4)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section shall, at the option of the candidate, dispose of such funds by any of the following means, or any combination thereof:
1. Return pro rata to each contributor the funds that have not been spent or obligated.
2. Donate the funds that have not been spent or obligated to a charitable organization or organizations that meet the qualifications of s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
3. Give not more than $25,000 of the funds that have not been spent or obligated to the affiliated party committee or political party of which such candidate is a member.
4. Give the funds that have not been spent or obligated:
a. In the case of a candidate for state office, to the state, to be deposited in either the 1Election Campaign Financing Trust Fund or the General Revenue Fund, as designated by the candidate; or
b. In the case of a candidate for an office of a political subdivision, to such political subdivision, to be deposited in the general fund thereof.
(b) Any candidate required to dispose of funds pursuant to this section who has received contributions pursuant to the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act shall, after all monetary commitments pursuant to s. 106.11(5)(b) and (c) have been met, return all surplus campaign funds to the General Revenue Fund.
(5) A candidate elected to office or a candidate who will be elected to office by virtue of his or her being unopposed may, in addition to the disposition methods provided in subsection (4), transfer from the campaign account to an office account any amount of the funds on deposit in such campaign account up to:
(a) Fifty thousand dollars, for a candidate for statewide office. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be considered separate candidates for the purpose of this section.
(b) Ten thousand dollars, for a candidate for multicounty office.
(c) Ten thousand dollars multiplied by the number of years in the term of office for which elected, for a candidate for legislative office.
(d) Five thousand dollars multiplied by the number of years in the term of office for which elected, for a candidate for county office or for a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis.
(e) Six thousand dollars, for a candidate for retention as a justice of the Supreme Court.
(f) Three thousand dollars, for a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal.
(g) Three thousand dollars, for a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge.
The office account established pursuant to this subsection shall be separate from any personal or other account. Any funds so transferred by a candidate shall be used only for legitimate expenses in connection with the candidate’s public office. Such expenses may include travel expenses incurred by the officer or a staff member; personal taxes payable on office account funds by the candidate or elected public official; professional services provided by a certified public accountant or attorney for preparation of the elected public official’s financial disclosure filing pursuant to s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145; costs to prepare, print, produce, and mail holiday cards or newsletters about the elected public official’s public business to constituents if such correspondence does not constitute a political advertisement, independent expenditure, or electioneering communication as provided in s. 106.011; fees or dues to religious, civic, or charitable organizations of which the elected public official is a member; items of modest value such as flowers, greeting cards, or personal notes given as a substitute for, or in association with, an elected public official’s personal attendance at a constituent’s special event or family occasion, such as the birth of a child, graduation, wedding, or funeral; personal expenses incurred by the elected public official in connection with attending a constituent meeting or event where public policy is discussed, if such meetings or events are limited to no more than once a week; or expenses incurred in the operation of the elected public official’s office, including the employment of additional staff. The funds may be deposited in a savings account; however, all deposits, withdrawals, and interest earned thereon shall be reported at the appropriate reporting period. If a candidate is reelected to office or elected to another office and has funds remaining in his or her office account, he or she may transfer surplus campaign funds to the office account. At no time may the funds in the office account exceed the limitation imposed by this subsection. Upon leaving public office, any person who has funds in an office account pursuant to this subsection remaining on deposit shall use such funds to pay for professional services provided by a certified public accountant or attorney for preparation of the elected public official’s final financial disclosure filing pursuant to s. 112.3144 or s. 112.3145, or give such funds to a charitable organization that meets the requirements of s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or, in the case of a state officer, to the state to be deposited in the General Revenue Fund or, in the case of an officer of a political subdivision, to the political subdivision to be deposited in the general fund thereof.
(6)(a) For purposes of this subsection, the term “same office” with respect to legislative office means an office in the same legislative body, irrespective of district number or designation or geographic boundary.
(b) A candidate elected to state office or a candidate who will be elected to state office by virtue of his or her being unopposed after candidate qualifying ends, may retain up to $20,000 in his or her campaign account, or in an interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, for use in his or her next campaign for the same office, in addition to the disposition methods provided in subsections (4) and (5). All requirements applicable to candidate campaign accounts under this chapter, including disclosure requirements applicable to candidate campaign accounts, limitations on expenditures, and limitations on contributions, apply to any retained funds.
(c) If a candidate who has retained funds under this subsection does not qualify as a candidate for reelection to the same office, all retained funds shall be disposed of as otherwise required by this section or s. 106.11(5) within 90 days after the last day of candidate qualifying for that office. Requirements in this section applicable to the disposal of surplus funds, including reporting requirements, are applicable to the disposal of retained funds.
(7) Before disposing of funds pursuant to subsection (4), transferring funds into an office account pursuant to subsection (5), or retaining funds for reelection pursuant to subsection (6), any candidate who filed an oath stating that he or she was unable to pay the fee for verification of petition signatures without imposing an undue burden on his or her personal resources or on resources otherwise available to him or her shall reimburse the state or local governmental entity, whichever is applicable, for such waived fee. If there are insufficient funds in the account to pay the full amount of the fee, the remaining funds shall be disbursed in the above manner until no funds remain. All funds disbursed pursuant to this subsection shall be remitted to the qualifying officer. Any reimbursement for petition verification costs which are reimbursable by the state shall be forwarded by the qualifying officer to the state for deposit in the General Revenue Fund.
(8)(a) Any candidate required to dispose of campaign funds pursuant to this section shall do so within the time required by this section and, on or before the date by which such disposition is to have been made, shall file with the officer with whom reports are required to be filed pursuant to s. 106.07 a form prescribed by the Division of Elections listing:
1. The name and address of each person or unit of government to whom any of the funds were distributed and the amounts thereof;
2. The name and address of each person to whom an expenditure was made, together with the amount thereof and purpose therefor;
3. The amount of such funds transferred to an office account by the candidate, together with the name and address of the bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which the office account is located; and
4. The amount of such funds retained pursuant to subsection (6), together with the name and address of the bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which the retained funds are located.
Such report shall be signed by the candidate and the campaign treasurer and certified as true and correct pursuant to s. 106.07.
(b) The filing officer shall notify each candidate at least 14 days before the date the report is due.
(c) Any candidate failing to file a report on the designated due date shall be subject to a fine as provided in s. 106.07 for submitting late termination reports.
(9) Any candidate elected to office who transfers surplus campaign funds into an office account pursuant to subsection (5) shall file a report on the 10th day following the end of each calendar quarter until the account is closed. Such reports shall contain the name and address of each person to whom any disbursement of funds was made, together with the amount thereof and the purpose therefor, and the name and address of any person from whom the elected candidate received any refund or reimbursement and the amount thereof. Such reports shall be on forms prescribed by the Division of Elections, signed by the elected candidate, certified as true and correct, and filed with the officer with whom campaign reports were filed pursuant to s. 106.07(2).
(10) Any candidate, or any person on behalf of a candidate, who accepts contributions after such candidate has withdrawn his or her candidacy, after the candidate has become an unopposed candidate, or after the candidate has been eliminated as a candidate or elected to office commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(11) Any candidate who is required by the provisions of this section to dispose of funds in his or her campaign account and who fails to dispose of the funds in the manner provided in this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.—s. 50, ch. 77-175; s. 6, ch. 79-378; s. 60, ch. 79-400; s. 2, ch. 80-292; s. 54, ch. 81-259; s. 28, ch. 81-304; s. 1, ch. 82-404; s. 38, ch. 84-302; s. 10, ch. 85-226; s. 2, ch. 86-7; s. 2, ch. 86-276; s. 11, ch. 87-363; s. 15, ch. 89-256; s. 34, ch. 90-315; s. 15, ch. 91-107; s. 645, ch. 95-147; ss. 15, 16, 53, ch. 97-13; s. 6, ch. 2002-197; s. 20, ch. 2004-252; s. 70, ch. 2005-277; ss. 16, 30, ch. 2011-6; s. 65, ch. 2011-40; HJR 7105, 2011 Regular Session; s. 15, ch. 2013-37.
1Note.—The trust fund expired, effective November 4, 1996, by operation of s. 19(f), Art. III of the State Constitution.