Election years bring excitement and controversies as voters ponder the qualifications and promises of those seeking office.
Questions arise over whether everyone’s complying with the guidelines and regulations. Candidates and their supporters pay special attention to the platforms and fundraising activities of their opponents.
The questions topping most of the fundraising inquiries is who is pumping money into an opponent’s campaign, how much the opponents received and whether those contributions were legitimate.
If an individual donates more to a candidate than the amount allowed during a financial reporting period, the excess amount would be a contribution violation.
The violation could be corrected by refunding the overage or giving it to another candidate. Guidelines say the violation should be corrected within 60 days.
Several people are running for mayor or commission seats in Macon-Bibb County this year. The candidates may receive $2,800 during a six-month reporting period or up to $5,000 for the year.
Because of the limitations, political operatives in some areas have developed what’s known as straw-donor schemes.
That’s the term used to describe when a person or entity puts together an arrangement to elude campaign contribution limits.
One party would ask others to donate to a particular candidate, then reimburse them for their donations.
Many states have determined that straw donor schemes don’t violate campaign-finance laws. Robert Lane, deputy director of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Committee, said Georgia is one of them.
Meanwhile, on the federal level, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission have launched investigations to see if certain schemes include illegal campaign contributions. It isn’t known when the investigations will be concluded. But the agencies say it’s illegal to conceal the actual or true source of a campaign contribution.
So far, campaign disclosures for the 2020 Macon-Bibb elections haven’t revealed any discernable campaign contribution violations.
We’ll see what happens during the remainder of the election cycle.