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The Role of the Campaign Treasurer

Nancy Haley
Lori Le Jacobs

Once upon a time in the world of elections and political campaigns, the guidelines for state election committees consisted of one thin manual covering all state election rules. Local jurisdictions may have had ordinances in place, but these were casually enforced and perhaps casually obeyed.  

Not any longer! The state Fair Political Practices Commission is currently updating its Manuals A-F, and in the process has created separate manuals for statewide candidate committees and local candidate committees. In San Diego County, where we are based, both the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego have recently updated their ordinances, and both now have special enforcing and interpretation units. Campaign committees at all levels are well advised to know the rules and regulations pertaining to them, and pay them heed, as fines for non-compliance are regularly assessed and can be sizable.

The days of the volunteer bookkeeper/treasurer have clearly passed.

Most committees now rely on their Treasurer for guidance in complying with governing election law on day to day matters. Treasurers must be up to date on the rules pertaining to their committees, and the applications to many common situations. For example, what are the disclosure requirements on a mass mailing? Can a state PAC accept contributions in excess of the calendar year limits? Can a membership association circulate a ballot measure petition to its membership without making a contribution to the ballot measure committee? Are living trust checks considered a personal or an entity contribution under state law; under local law? And endlessly on.

Today, the committee Treasurer is still responsible for establishing the local or state committee with the California Secretary of State and the federal committee with the Federal Election Commission. The Treasurer also maintains the committee checkbook, reconciles to the bank account and financial reporting software used for recordkeeping, accepts receipts for deposit and makes disbursements. Other duties include recording loans, in-kind contributions and accrued expenses; providing financial updates to the committees as needed, gathering required contributor information and preparing and filing required disclosure reports (filing electronically, as required). Additionally, the Treasurer normally maintains the audit files for the committee, consisting of the back up records required for all of the above transactions. Oh yes, and long after the campaign is over (and hastily forgotten or fondly remembered by the candidates, workers, consultants, fundraisers and/or sponsors) – the Treasurer responds to audit requests and sees the (sometimes long-closed) committee through the audit process.

Our office has served as Treasurer for hundreds of local, state and federal candidate committees, political action committees and ballot measure committees. We take pride in our work, although most of it is campaign-supportive in nature and takes place behind the scene. Maybe the slogan of the professional Treasurer should be: “Behind every well organized campaign, look for us”. We are happy to be there.

About the Authors

Nancy Haley / Scott & Cronin LLP - Political Reporting Division

Nancy became the director of Scott & Cronin’s Political Reporting Division in the fall of 1997 bringing with her over 12 years of experience in campaign management, strategic planning and political fundraising. She has had the opportunity to work with numerous public officials at the state and local level as well as on the passage of ballot measures throughout California. Since joining Scott & Cronin, Nancy has worked directly in the preparation of campaign reports with gross receipts in excess of $35 million. Whether it is promoting candidates, committees or issues, Nancy is unique in her ability to provide political expertise not only to her political clients but also to tax and business clients who are active in state and local civic issues. Nancy has a B.A. in Public Administration with a concentration in Political Science from San Diego State University. She is involved in numerous civic organizations in the San Diego area.

You can reach Nancy Haley at:
330 Encinitas Blvd., Suite 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 632-3600

Lori Le Jacobs / Scott & Cronin LLP - Political Reporting Division

Lori has been in the field of campaign accounting since 1988, working with candidate, initiative and political action committees. Before joining Scott & Cronin in 1999, she spent ten years as a partner in a political consulting firm and specialized in campaign bookkeeping and financial reporting. Prior to that, she enjoyed a career in banking, specializing in project management in consumer lending. Lori's attention to detail and ability to service client needs has made her a valued part of many campaign teams. Her experience includes working on both state and federal committees, and for a wide range of local candidate and measure committees. Lori has a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, and has worked for and volunteered on numerous political staffs and committees.

You can reach Lori Le Jacobs at:
330 Encinitas Blvd., Suite 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 632-3600

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