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Transcript: Public Election Fund Compliance Seminar: Montgomery County 2018

[Power Point Slide #1: Public Election Fund Compliance Seminar]

Jared DeMarinis: Hello. Welcome to the public election compliance seminar. I'm Jared DeMarinis with the Maryland State Board of Elections, and with me is  

David Crow: David Crow from the Department of Finance at Montgomery County Government.

[Power Point Slide #2 - Resources: Lists the Public Election Fund Summary Guide published on June 2017 and the url for the Montgomery County Program Website:

Jared DeMarinis: The public election fund of Montgomery County has multiple resources at your disposal for candidates, for the public and for other stakeholders to know more about the program. We recommend you constantly use these vital resources in learning about it. There's the summary guide which was published in June of 2017 and the Montgomery County program website which is listed here on the slide.

[Power Point Slide #3 – Eligible Offices for the PEF program]

David Crow: This program covers ten offices that are eligible to participate in the program. The County Executive's office, four At-Large Council seats and five District Council seats.

[Power Point Slide #4 – The First Step to Participate]

Jared DeMarinis: The first steps to participate is that you have to register a public finance committee through the Maryland Campaign Reporting System also known as MDCRIS.  And at the time of registration, you have to file a notice to participate.

[Power Point Slide #5 – Documents filled out at the time of registration.]  

Jared DeMarinis: The following slide here shows the documents in which you will be filling out at the time of registration. This will all be done through the program and you'd only have to enter it in once. The Notice of Intent, The Statement of Organization, The Appointment of Chairman and Treasurer and some other important legal notices. The Statement of Organization along with the Appointment of Chairman and Treasurer will be used when you open up your bank account. The Notice of Intent lets the state and the county know your intent to participate in the program.

[Power Point Slide #6 – MDCRIS Email notification]

Jared DeMarinis: Once approved by the State Board of Elections, an email will be sent to all the committee members - the Candidate, the Chair, and the Treasurer. If you do not receive this email within 24 hours, please let us know. It's important that you may have to look in your spam folder for such emails. If you do, please make sure that the State Board of Elections is a safe sender. Once the email is received, the three members will receive temporary passwords to log in to MDCRIS.

You will each then choose your own unique password. We do not keep passwords. If you forget your password, use the 'Trouble Logging In' feature on the program.

[Power Point Slide #7 – Publicly Funded Campaign Account: The committee must open a bank account for the exclusive use of the public funded campaign. The bank account will receive all deposits and make disbursements.  Any other bank accounts associated with the campaign or candidate will not be recognized and must be closed or inactive during the period the candidate seeks public funds.]

David Crow: Upon filing an Intent to Participate in the public election fund program, a campaign must establish a publicly funded campaign account to handle all activity during the publicly funded campaign.
All of the bank accounts associated with the campaign must be frozen or closed during this time period.

[Power Point Slide #8 – Editing Committee Registration]

Jared DeMarinis: If at any point during your campaign you have to edit your registration - meaning you have to change your Chairman or Treasurer or your bank account information, this can be done through MDCRIS. On the left hand side, once you log in, you can see 'Edit/View Registration Information.' There, it will take you to the screen where you will be able to select and make sure you can enter in all the changes necessary.

[Power Point Slide #9 – View/Edit Public Financing Committee Registration-State page]

Jared DeMarinis: It's important at the bottom of the screen that you click 'I Certify These Changes' as well as hitting 'Submit.' If you do not click the button and certify, and hit
'Submit,' the changes will not be saved. It's important that you must hit that button.

[Power Point Slide #9 – View/Edit Public Financing Committee Registration-State page:  A graphic appears stating:  Once the information is edited, select the box on the bottom of the page that states “I certify these changes….” and select “SUBMIT.” The system will save the edited information and state at the top of the page if saved successfully. Then select “OK.”]

[Power Point Slide #10 – Once the Publicly Funded Candidate Committee is established…]

Once the Public Finance Committee is established through MDCRIS and the bank account is established, you may begin to start collecting funds and become a certified candidate. No contributions received prior to the filing of the Notice of Intent will be considered a qualifying contribution. Additionally, you may be found in violation of engaging in campaign finance activity without having a registered political committee. It's important if you're thinking about joining the program or participating that you file your political committee first - then start collecting funds.

[Power Point Slide #11: Contributions]

[Power Point Slide #12: Qualifying Contributions]

David Crow: Qualifying contributions must be at least $5.00 dollars but no more than $150.00 dollars, made by a county resident, made during the qualification period and acknowledged by a qualifying receipt.

[Power Point Slide #13: Eligible Contributions]

David Crow: Eligible contributions can be from a non-county resident up to $150.00 dollars. Must have proof of receipt submitted to the State Board of Elections, can be an in-kind contribution up to $150.00 dollars in value and are not matched with public funds.

[Power Point Slide #14: Prohibited Contributions]

David Crow: Prohibited Contributions.  An applicant cannot and must not accept any contributions from groups or organizations such as PAC’s.  A sole proprietor or business such as an LLC or LLP, or an individual in an aggregate that is greater than the $150.00 dollar limit during the four-year election cycle.

[Power Point Slide #15: Loans]

David Crow: An applicant candidate or applicant candidate's spouse may lend up to a combined total of $6,000.00 dollars for each of the candidate's publicly funded campaign accounts during a four year election cycle. The loan or contribution is not eligible for matching public funds during the election. All other loans are impermissible and the candidate or their spouse may give up to the $6,000.00 dollars in aggregate during the election cycle.

[Power Point Slide #16: Receipt of Contributions]

Jared DeMarinis:  Receipt of Contributions. These are known as Contribution Cards. It must be a separate receipt obtained from the contributor with the contributor's name, residential address, and signed by the contributor directly or by a digital signature. The signature must match the name on the contribution in order to be considered a qualifying contribution.

For example - a credit card. The name on the credit card must match the digital signature or the name on the check must match the signature on the check. A cancelled check does not qualify as a signed contribution receipt for matching purposes.  The contributor must sign a separate document that acknowledges the contribution and is aware of the limitations of the program in order to be a qualified contribution for matching funds.

[Power Point Slide #17: Example of Accepted Receipts]

Jared DeMarinis: Examples of Contribution Cards can be found on the Maryland State Board of Elections website. Additionally, the examples are also in the back of the summary guide.

[Power Point Slide #18: Digital Signatures]

Jared DeMarinis: Digital signatures are different. It means a document that it will be provided to the State Board where the donor made an affirmative action acknowledging the contribution to the public finance candidate. This is more than just checking a box but an action, meaning that the contributor must use some sort of affirmative typing when making the contribution.

Jared DeMarinis: For example, there is a box that says 'Please Type Your Initials In This Field' to constitute your digital signature. That would be acceptable. The committee then would have to supply this document with all other evidence of the contribution that was made to the State Board in order to be matched.

[Power Point Slide #19: Example of an Accepted Digital Signature]

Jared DeMarinis: Here is an example of an accepted digital signature. It says 'I am a resident of Montgomery County, Yes or No.' 'Initial to constitute Your Digital Signature.' Then they can type in their field that the transaction on the contributions credit card was made in their own name Yes or No.

[Power Point Slide #20: Ready to Qualify? Certification of a Candidate in the Program]

Jared DeMarinis: So now you've received enough qualifying contributions. Are you ready to qualify and certify to be in the program?

[Power Point Slide # 21: Minimum requirements to qualify for public financing for each elective office are as follows:]

Jared DeMarinis: The Minimum requirements to qualify for public financing in Montgomery County -is as follows - You need 500 individual qualifying contributions for a total of $40,000 for the office of County Executive. At-Large and District Council members have their own minimum requirements.

[Power Point Slide # 22: Certification of Candidate]

Jared DeMarinis: The documentation needed for certification. You must have receipts for all qualifying contributions -Meaning you need to have Contribution Cards for every qualifying contribution.

The Declaration of Intent - which was already filed when you established the committee.

You will submit these documents on a campaign finance report which will include the list of all contributions received and loans received, expenditures made and outstanding obligations still needing to be paid.

Every activity that the political committee has done will be reported on these campaign finance reports.

Additionally, you will need to file a Certificate of Candidacy for the correct covered office. This is filed at the County Board of Elections.

It's important to file the Certificate of Candidacy first before filing the campaign finance report, because we will not be able to figure out the correct match until you actually file for the office sought.

[Power Point Slide #23: 10 Days]

Jared DeMarinis:  After receiving the information on the campaign finance report, the State Board will certify if the candidate has met the qualifications - no later than 10 business days after receiving the report.

Recertification is not required if the candidate moves from the primary election to the general election.

[Power Point Slide #24: Filing Through MDCRIS]

Jared DeMarinis: Filing through MDCRIS.

MDCRIS can be accessed 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and it can be located at

You have to enter it in - by using on the right hand side - with your username and password.

[Power Point Slide #25: How to report a contribution through MDCRIS]

Jared DeMarinis: On the left hand side menu, you will find choices for what you need to do.

'Enter Contributions, Transfers/In-Kind Contributions.'

You select the correct filing period and there is a type-ahead feature for information that has been already previously entered in to avoid data entry mistakes.

Please use the type-ahead feature. This is important when you enter in contributions. This makes sure that the aggregate to date is correct.

[Power Point Slide #26: How to report an expenditure through MDCRIS:]

Jared DeMarinis: Expenditures are done the same way. Once again you just have to select from the left hand side menu, enter in expenditures and outstanding obligations.

Again you select the correct filing period and enter in the payee information.

Once again, there is a type ahead field for vendors that have been already previously entered into the field.  Reimbursements are entered slightly differently than a normal expenditure.

You enter in both the reimbursee and the vendor into the system. Please remember the State Board of Elections Help Desk is available to answer any questions to help with data entry.

[Power Point Slide #27: How to link receipts through MDCRIS:]

Jared DeMarinis: Finally, the last key element in filing a campaign finance report through the program, is linking receipts.

Without the receipts, you will not be eligible to receive matching funds.

You log in and it's a two-step process. First you have to upload all your receipt documents.

These are individual PDFs.  You will then ask for the filing period and you make sure that the correct transaction type is associated with the PDF, and you will save it on the computer.

[Power Point Slide #28: Left Hand Menu]

Jared DeMarinis: Again, this is a two-step process. Step 1- Filing period, Transaction type, File Name and then you'll be ready to upload the files into the program.

[Power Point Slide # 29: Upload Receipt Documents screen]

Jared DeMarinis: If you have any doubt, the system will acknowledge that a receipt has been saved successfully.

It will tell you on the search field below. If it does not appear in the uploaded receipts below,
then the item was not saved and you will need to re-save that program - that receipt..

[Power Point Slide #30: Upload Receipt Documents screen]

Jared DeMarinis: If a receipt was incorrectly linked, or needs to be deleted, it can be deleted from this screen as well.

Please select the trash can with the red X on the right side of the receipt. It will delete the receipt. This is a hard delete. Any time you delete a data entered item -- either a contribution, expenditure, a receipt - the system will delete it.

It will not save it. There will be no chance for recovery. So use this judiciously.

[Power Point Slide #31: How to link receipts through MDCRIS – Two Step Process. Step –Two Linking Receipt Documents]

Jared DeMarinis: Step 2 – with linking of the receipts.

So after all of the receipts have been uploaded into MDCRIS, you have to then link the receipt
to the corresponding contribution or expenditure. From there you once again - it's step by step instructions in the system.

[Power Point Slide #32: Step 2 linking receipts continued]

Jared DeMarinis: You have to make sure that you select the transaction type - i.e. contribution or expenditure, the filing period.  Select either the contributor or the payee name, and then you have to select any other information there. Finally, you would hit 'Search' field.

It will list all the contributions associated with the contributor on the screen, or all the expenditures. At the end of this, once you've found the correct contributor or expenditure with
the receipt, you select 'Link.'

[Power Point Slide #33: How to Unlink Receipts Through MDCRIS]

Jared DeMarinis: How to unlink receipts, again, is the same thing - except once you've found the correct contribution or expenditure, it will say select 'Unlink', then the program will advise that the receipt is successfully unlinked. 

[Power Point Slide #34: Step 2 Link Receipt Document to Transactions screen]

Jared DeMarinis: The program will then ask which document to link - so it will ask to update the link so that you can get the correct link receipt to the correct contribution and expenditure data entered.

[Power Point Slide #35: Filing and Reporting Schedule]

Jared DeMarinis: Filing and Reporting Schedule.

[Power Point Slide #36: Mandatory 2018 Reporting Schedule for Gubernatorial Election designated political committee]

Jared DeMarinis:  All political committees are required by law to file these campaign finance reports.

They are the 2018 Annual Report, the Pre-Primary 1 and 2.

If you do not close at that point after the primary election then you will be required to file the Pre-General, Pre-General 1, Pre-General 2, Post General, and then finally, the 2019 Annual Report.

Public financing committees will not go past the 2019 Annual Report.

In fact, they will probably be finishing up in December of 2018 as their final reporting schedule.

All monies would then have to be returned.

We will discuss that more towards the end of this program here. These reporting periods are required.

Failure to file a campaign finance report on the due date will result in late fees against the political committee.  The late fees which could be up to $500.00 will be the personal liability of the Chairman and the Treasurer.

The campaign finance entity may not pay late fees.

[Power Point Slide #37: Public Election Fund Reports]

Jared DeMarinis: Additionally, there are public fund reports in which the committee may seek matching funds. This can be filed on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

These are optional reports. The transaction end date is the day before the report can be filed. So for example, a report was due on August 1st 2018.

The end transaction date for that report was July 31st 2018.

Once again, since these are optional reports, the committee does not have to file them.

There is no late fees associated with these optional reports. The information would be automatically rolled over to the next filing period for the committee if the committee does not want to file at that time.

[Power Point Slide #38: Reporting Requirements]

Jared DeMarinis: All reports must be filed using MDCRIS. You cannot file it in any other manner.

The reports can be filed up to 11:59 p.m. on the filing deadline.

You have to use and log in to the system. Only the Chairman and Treasurer are able to file reports as required by law. The candidate, if not one of those two responsible officers, may not file a campaign finance report or other data entered individuals.

[Power Point Slide #39: How to File a Report through MDCRIS]

Jared DeMarinis: How to file a report - You would then go on to your menu in MDCRIS, select 'Edit/File Pending Transaction, select the filing period.

Hit 'Search.' Then at the end of it you will hit 'File All to State.' At that point there, it will be done.

How to file a campaign finance report through MDCRIS.

Once again, you go to the left hand side of your menu, Hit 'Edit/File Pending Transaction.'

Select the appropriate filing period name. Hit 'Search.'

Then choose one of the red buttons below which will say 'File All to State.'

File closeout report means you wish to close the committee. This will be only done at the end of the campaign. It is important that you hit the red button.

Then it will ask you for your bank account information and ask for one of the responsible officers to certify that they are filing this under the penalties of perjury.

At the end of the transactions you will be able to print out the report.

Additionally, you can go to 'View Edit Registration Information' under 'Filed Reports' to see if the report has been filed right there as well.

The report will be instantly put on the website for others to see.

[Power Point Slide #40: Distributions]

David Crow:  Distributions. Key items needed so that the distribution is not delayed in getting processed are One - the bank account number, Two - the bank routing number, Three - the campaign employer ID number and lastly they need to make sure that the SBE and the Department of Finance have the correct information otherwise delays could occur.

[Power Point Slide #41: Distributions of public contributions]

David Crow:  Once the decision is made by the State Board of Elections related to matching funds, the Department of Finance has three business days to deposit matching funds into the
candidate's campaign account.

[Power Point Slide #42: Contested Elections]

Jared DeMarinis: Contested Elections.

In order to receive public financing matching distribution the candidate must be in a contested
election - meaning that another candidate must appear on the ballot against that candidate. Contested elections do not include write-in candidates for determining eligibility for matching funds.

[Power Point Slide #43: Distribution Table]

David Crow: Distributions.

This table represents the matching calculation which will be used for each distribution for every elected office.

[Power Point Slide #44: Distribution Period]

David Crow:  Distribution Period.

This period begins 365 days before the primary election and ends 15 days from the date of either the primary or the general election in which the candidate is participating.

The distribution period for the November 2018 election is from June 26th, 2017 through November 21st, 2018.  And again, distribution requests may only be submitted on the first and third Tuesday of every month.

[Power Point Slide #45: Maximum Public Contribution]

The maximum public contribution a candidate may receive is per election - Primary and General.

For example, the County Executive can receive $750,000 dollars in the Primary and $750,000 in the General election.

But a reminder is that it has to be a contested election to receive these matching funds.

[Power Point Slide #46: Expenditures]

Jared DeMarinis: Expenditures.

One of the biggest questions that the State Board of Elections gets, is what is considered an eligible expenditure by a political committee.

The answer is that it has to relate to election related campaign activities and would not occur but for the fact the individual is a candidate.

Additionally, the Montgomery County program has further restrictions on what constitutes a permissible expenditure. Expenditures must occur within a specific time period of either the Primary or General election in order to be acceptable.

[Power Point Slide #47: Goods and Services purchased prior to filing Notice of Intent]

Jared DeMarinis: Goods and Services purchased prior to filing the Notice of Intent.

Assets that the candidate has paid for and received prior to the filing of the Notice of Intent to participate in the program can only be used in limited capacities.

Otherwise pre-purchasing by a non-public financing committee for campaign materials or items is strictly prohibited.

[Power Point Slide #48: Examples]

Jared DeMarinis: Here are two examples - One in which it would be a violation and the other one - which would not be a violation. The difference being is that how the campaign is actually paying for the services after the fact as well as how the item is used.

[Slide Examples: Example 1: On March 1, 2017, Candidate A contracts with a bus manufacturer to build a custom campaign bus and pays $100,000 in full for the bus to be built and delivered on July 1, 2017.  On April 1, 2017, Candidate A files a notice of intent to participate in the Public Election Fund with the State Board.  On July 1, 2017, upon receipt of the pre-paid campaign bus, Candidate A would be in violation of the Public Election Fund regulations which prohibit the advanced purchase of goods and services with ineligible contributions received outside of the Program.

Example 2: On March 1, 2017, Candidate B contracts with a web developer to create a campaign website for the cost of $10,000 and pays in full at the time.  On March 21, 2017, the website is completed with an ongoing monthly fee of $99, which began on March 21, 2017.  On April 21, 2017, Candidate B files their notice of intent to participate in the Public Election Fund with the State Board.  Upon filing this notice of intent, Candidate B now pays the monthly website fee of $99 from the candidate’s publicly funded campaign account.  This is considered to be an allowable expense.  The candidate does not have pay for a new campaign website.

[Power Point Slide #49: Other Prohibited Uses of Money]

Jared DeMarinis:  Other prohibited uses of money include the personal use or expenditures relating to holding office.

Of course paying for any personal endorsements of your candidacy and finally payment of late filing fees.

[Power Point Slide #50: Transfers]

Jared DeMarinis:  Transfers.

A public finance candidate may not make a transfer to any other candidate for elected office. It may not make any transfer to any other campaign finance entity in the state including Central Committees.

Additionally, the public finance candidate may not receive transfers from any other public financing entity including Central Committees.

This means the public finance candidate must use all of its funds for and directly related to their own personal election and the office that they are seeking.

[Power Point Slide #51: Membership of Slate]

Jared DeMarinis: Membership of a Slate.

The candidate may not be a member of a slate while accepting public funds.

They run on their own.  If they want to share pieces of campaign material with other candidates, the candidate must pay the vendor directly for its appropriate share of the costs.  It cannot use any campaign finance entity but as a vehicle for reimbursement.

Also their authority line must appear on the campaign material. So the candidate may not join a slate and they must pay the vendor directly and have their authority line on the campaign material to prove that they paid the vendor directly.

[Power Point Slide #52: Withdrawal]

David Crow: A candidate may choose to withdrawal from this program, however, they must pay back to the fund all matching distributions that have been received during the Primary and the General election since joining the program. And this includes interest on those matching funds.

[Power Point Slide #53: Surplus]

David Crow: All unspent funds remaining in the campaign's publicly-funded account at the end of their campaign both matched and unmatched dollars must be returned to the public election fund within 30 days at the end of their campaign.

[Power Point Slide #54: Additional Resources]

Jared DeMarinis:  Additional Resources.

Here are some other places that you can look for answers. It's important that as you get questions, we post these questions on our FAQ page. So please constantly review the FAQ pages on the Department of Finance and the State Board of Elections website.

Finally, the Maryland State Board of Elections has a help desk when relating to questions about how to use the filing program MDCRIS or just read other compliance questions.

Please make sure if you email us or contact us, that you tell us that this is a public financing question either in the email or in the phone call because state law differs than the county code on some campaign finance compliance questions.

It is important that you would get the correct answer, so please make sure that you tell us that this is a public financing question. Finally once again if there are any questions, we will be happy to answer them.

Please contact the State Board of Elections.

[Power Point Slide #55: Questions]

Again review the frequently asked questions because your question may have already been asked and answered. Those are valuable resources and thank you for participating in this program it's been a great time talking to you.

[Information from Additional Resources Slide:


Montgomery County Council
Legislative Branch -

Maryland State Board of Elections -

Montgomery County Maryland Government
Department of Finance -

Council Bill 16-14: Public Campaign Financing Program Established

Montgomery County Executive Regulation 12-15: Public Election Fund

Public Election Fund Program: Frequently Asked Questions

County Code: Public Election Fund

Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System Help Desk
Email: (make sure to note it is a Public Financing Question in the email)
Phone: 410-269-2880]