M.G.L. Chapter 55, Section 1 defines an independent expenditure as "an expenditure made or liability incurred by an individual, group, association, corporation, labor union, political committee or other entity as payment for goods or services to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate; provided, however, that the expenditure is made or incurred without cooperation or consultation with any candidate or a nonelected political committee organized on behalf of the candidate or an agent of the candidate and is not made or incurred in concert with or at the request or suggestion of the candidate, a nonelected political committee organized on behalf of the candidate or agent of the candidate."
Independent expenditure reports are required under M.G.L. c. 55, s. 18A and may be referred to as "18A reports". These reports are filed by individuals, groups, associations, corporations, labor unions, political committees and any other entities making independent expenditures of more than $250 in a calendar year (aggregated) to support or oppose one or more candidates. Independent expenditure reports are filed with OCPF unless the candidates supported or opposed are seeking office in a city or town election; in that event, the report is filed with the local election official in the city or town where the election is taking place.
Generally, independent expenditure reports are due within seven (7) business days of the date the expenditure or expenditures were utilized. However, if the independent expenditure was made after the 10th day, but more than 24 hours, before the date of any election, a preliminary report must be filed within 24 hours of making the expenditure and a follow-up report is then filed within 7 business days thereafter.
Preliminary reports must include the same information as a regular independent expenditure report, with the exception of the amount of each expenditure and the total amount spent, since that information may not be known at the time the report is due. The amount of the expenditure(s), and the total amount spent, are provided in the follow-up report.
M.G.L. Chapter 55, Section 1 defines an electioneering communication as "any broadcast, cable, mail, satellite or print communication that:
Electioneering communications reports are required under M.G.L. c. 55, s. 18F and may be referred to as "18F reports". These reports are filed by individuals, groups and organizations, other than registered political committees, who make or contract to make electioneering communication expenditures of more than $250 (aggregated) in a calendar year. Electioneering communications reports are electroncially filed with OCPF unless the candidate or candidates who are clearly identified in the communication are seeking office in a city or town election; in that event, a paper report is filed with the local election official in the city or town where the election is taking place.
Generally, electioneering communications reports should be filed within seven (7) days of the date the expenditure or expenditures were made. However, if the individual, group or association makes or contracts to make electioneering communications of $1,000 or more (aggregated) within 7 days before the date of an election, the report must be filed within 48 hours after making the expenditure(s).
Electioneering communications reports differ from independent expenditure reports in that, if the individual, group or association making the electioneering communication expenditure(s) receive more than $250 from another party for the purpose of making the expenditure(s), the report must include the name and address of the contributor(s) and the date the funds were received.
Any corporation, association, organization or other group, other than a political committee organized with OCPF, must e-file the CPF 22 form if it has given, paid, expended or contributed money or other thing of value in order to support or oppose a ballot question.
Any individual who makes an expenditure of $250 or more to support or oppose a ballot question must also e-file the CPF 22 form.
The CPF 22 form is e-filed on the same schedule as state ballot question committees.
The CPF 22A form is filed by governmental entities that use public funds or resources to support or oppose a ballot question. Generally, the use of public resources for political purposes is prohibited.
When an organization has made political contributions or expenditures or incurred liabilities to support candidates or political committees in excess of the "incidental threshold" set out in OCPF Interpretive Bulletin IB-88-01 a duly qualified officer of the organization must file a CPF Form 111: Report of Association or Other Group Making Contributions to or Expenditures on Behalf of Candidates, PACs, or Party Committees.
The report must disclose all contributions and expenditures made and liabilities incurred during the calendar year.
The obligation to file a report continues for each year thereafter until the year after a year in which the incidental threshold is not reached.