Candidate Committee FAQs

Please click on a link below to view FAQs related to that category:

Registration

By law, registration with the Commission as a candidate committee is required within ten (10) days of the either event occurring:  1) You file nomination papers for a state or county office with the Office of Elections or County Clerk’s Office; or 2) You receive contributions or make or incur expenditures in an aggregate amount of more than $100.

Registering with the Commission means electronically filing an Organizational Report in the Candidate Filing System (“CFS”).  In order to access or log in to the CFS, the candidate committee must complete and submit an Electronic Filing Form to obtain a username and password from the Commission.

Failure to timely register with the Commission may result in a monetary fine.

It is advisable that you call your selected bank prior to opening your committee’s bank account.  Banks will vary on their requirements.  If your bank requires an Organizational Report and you have not yet opened your bank account, you may want to consider inputting the bank’s information and typing “pending” for bank account number.  File this report with the Commission and print a copy to submit to the bank for verification that you are registered with the Commission as a candidate committee.  Once you have obtained your bank account number, you will need to amend your Organizational Report and replace “pending” with the actual bank account number to comply with the law.

You will not be able to change the name of the chairperson or treasurer from the CFS.  If there is a change, you must complete and submit a new Candidate Committee Electronic Filing Form with the candidate’s signature and that of the new officer.  The Commission will input the name(s) of your new officer(s).  Your committee will then be responsible for updating their contact information (i.e., phone number, email address, and mailing address) and filing an amended Organizational Report to finalize the change.  An amended Organizational Report must be filed within ten (10) calendar days after the change is brought to the attention of the committee chairperson or treasurer.

Submit a new Candidate Committee Electronic Filing Form with the candidate’s signature and that of the new officer.  The Commission will change the name of the chairperson or treasurer on your Organizational Report.  Your committee will then be responsible for updating your new officer’s contact information by logging in to the Candidate Filing System and filing an amended Organizational Report to finalize the change.  An amended Organizational Report must be filed within ten (10) calendar days after the change is brought to the attention of the committee chairperson or treasurer.

Update your committee’s Organizational Report by filing an amended Organizational Report on the Candidate Filing System.  It is very important that the information listed on a committee’s Organizational Report is kept current.  An amended Organizational Report must be filed within ten (10) calendar days after the change is brought to the attention of the committee chairperson or treasurer.

Log in to the Candidate Filing System, click on “Administration,” select “Organizational Report,” then select “Amend” to make the necessary changes, and click on “File Report” to file an amended Organizational Report.

For more information, go to: Candidate Filing System Manual – Amend OR.

You are required to electronically file periodic disclosure reports with the Commission by the applicable deadlines.

You will find the reporting deadlines here:  http://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/cc/cc-reporting-schedules/

Filing A Disclosure Report

You will need to use a laptop or desktop computer to file your reports.  For Mac/Apple users, you must use Chrome or Edge internet browsers to file your report.  For Windows users, you must use Chrome, Edge, or Internet Explorer browsers to file your report.  If you are trying to preview/print your disclosure report or any of your schedules before filing, make sure your pop-up blockers are turned off.  Before filing your report, close all programs, apps, and browser tabs.

When the filing process has been completed in the Candidate Filing System, a Filing Confirmation page will appear.  All reports filed with the Commission are available for public inspection on the Commission’s website by going to https://csc.hawaii.gov/CFSPublic/ and clicking on “View Reports.”  Enter the candidate’s name in the Search Box and click on “Search.”  When the candidate’s name appears, click on the candidate’s name for a list of reports filed.

Candidates and their treasurers are required to electronically file disclosure reports on the Candidate Filing System in accordance with a reporting schedule which has been set by law.  There are no exceptions or waivers.  Failure to file the required report by the applicable deadline may result in monetary fines.

Log in to the Candidate Filing System and click on “Amend Mode.”  You should see a red band across the page that says, “AMENDMENT MODE.”  Make the necessary changes in the appropriate schedule(s) and file the report – all while remaining in the “AMENDMENT MODE.”  Reports submitted this way will be filed as an amended report.

Keep in mind that amended reports cannot conflict with the candidate’s and treasurer’s certification that the original report filing was true, complete, and accurate, and are for changes such as correcting typos or errors in names/addresses of contributors or vendors.  Conflicts with the candidate’s and treasurer’s certification for such things as failing to report contributions or expenditures in the original report will likely be fined by the Commission.

Schedules

Report the full amount of the contribution (i.e., $25) in “Schedule A – Contributions” and report the fee (i.e., $2.50) in “Schedule B – Expenditures Made.”

Sometimes the candidate, volunteer, or employee might make expenditures on behalf of the candidate committee.  Even though a single check payable to the candidate, volunteer, or employee may be used to make the payment, the committee report needs to show the amount, vendor’s name, address, and purpose of each reimbursable expenditure that is associated with the payment.

Enter the market value of the non-monetary contribution in “Schedule A – Contributions” and make a corresponding entry in “Schedule B – Expenditures Made.”  This is very important to prevent inflating your committee’s cash on hand amount.

Some money received by committees are not considered “contributions” for reporting purposes.  An “other receipt” is money received by a committee that does not meet the definition of contribution, but still is reportable.  Examples include:  Candidate’s own funds, interest, public funds received from the Commission, rebates, refunds, and sale of durable assets.

Loans only apply to candidate committees.  Loans to or from a noncandidate committee are prohibited.  Loans are expenditures that exceed $1,500 after a 30-day period that are not reimbursed within 45 days.

Yes, you must report all loans on “Schedule D – Loans” regardless of amount.  However, an executed loan document must only be submitted to the Commission for every loan in excess of $100.  If a loan was received that exceeds the limit of $50,000 aggregate for the election period from immediate family or $10,000 aggregate for the election period from other persons, please call the Commission at (808) 586-0285.

Each loan forgiven by a candidate must be reported as being forgiven in “Schedule D – Loans” and then off-set in the same amount in “Schedule C – Other Receipts.”

Loans forgiven by immediate family members and other persons with their permission must be reported as being forgiven in “Schedule D – Loans” and then reclassified as a contribution in “Schedule A – Contributions,” subject to the candidate’s contribution limit.

There is a specific schedule for unpaid expenditures called “Schedule E – Unpaid Expenditures.” Unpaid expenditures must be reported in Schedule E until payment is made in full or the debt is forgiven.  Forgiven debts are considered non-monetary contributions subject to the candidate’s contribution limit.  For each unpaid expenditure that is forgiven on Schedule E, you must enter an off-setting contribution for the same amount on “Schedule A – Contributions.”  Unpaid expenditures and paid unpaid expenditures are reported on Schedule E and never on “Schedule B – Expenditures Made.”

No, the Candidate Filing System (“CFS”) will keep track of your expenditures and contributions.  It is recommended that financial information is entered into the CFS as it becomes available.

Termination

You can donate up to twice the amount of your maximum contributions (i.e., if your maximum contribution is $2,000, you may donate up to $4,000) in each category below:

  • Charitable organizations
  • Public schools or public libraries
  • Full-time student scholarships awards

You may also purchase two (2) tickets to a fundraiser (not more than two (2) tickets to an event held by another candidate or committee), make a contribution to your political party (not to exceed $25,000 in a 2-year election period), return contributions to contributors, hold a Mahalo party (within reason, nothing extravagant), and/or escheat the remaining surplus to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund (if writing a check, please write it out to “Hawaii Election Campaign Fund”).

After you spent your surplus, file the next report if the expenditure of the surplus was completed after a reporting period has closed.  See the next FAQ on how to complete the termination request process.

For more information, go to: Guidebook for Candidate Committees – Surplus.

To end or terminate your registration with the Commission, submit a Request for Termination of Registration form and your closing bank account statement.  To qualify for termination, you must meet the following criteria:

  • The candidate will no longer be receiving any contributions or making any expenditures reportable to the Commission;
  • Your last report filed with the Commission must show a zero (0) balance with no surplus or deficit;
  • There are no unpaid expenditures or outstanding loans to be paid; and
  • If applicable, durable assets have been sold or disposed as permitted by law and reported in the Candidate Filing System.

No, termination of the committee’s registration is not official until the Commission approves your request.  The committee must continue to file disclosure reports by the applicable deadlines on the Candidate Filing System until your request is approved by the Commission and your committee has received a signed copy of the termination request form.  If you do not receive a signed copy within ten (10) days of filing the request, please call the Commission at (808) 586-0285.

Complete records of contributions and expenditures must be retained by the committee for at least five (5) years and the records shall include “bank records, with respect to the matters required to be reported, vouchers, worksheets, receipts, bills, and accounts, which shall provide in sufficient detail the necessary information and data with which the filed reports and statements may be verified, explained, or clarified, and checked for accuracy and completeness.”

Fundraisers

Yes, however, you must obtain the name and address of each person purchasing a food/item because this is considered a contribution reportable to the Commission.

No, however, you are required to report each person who purchases a ticket as a contributor.

Miscellaneous

An excess contribution is any contribution over the legal limit.  If an excess contribution is returned within seven (7) days of receipt, the excess contribution is not required to be reported.  If you miss the seven (7) day return, the excess contribution must be reported on the applicable disclosure report and returned to the original contributor within thirty (30) days of receipt of the excess contribution.  Any excess contribution not returned to the original contributor within thirty (30) days shall escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.  Call the Commission at (808) 586-0285 to report the excess contribution.

If you place an advertisement for your campaign or against your opponent, including by electronic means (e.g., websites, pop-up banners, social media apps), it must include a disclaimer that states:

  • Who paid for the advertisement (i.e., “paid for by”) including the name and address of the candidate, committee, or other persons paying for the advertisement; and
  • Notice in a prominent location that the advertisement is published, broadcast, televised, or circulated either “with the approval and authority of the candidate,” or “without the approval and authority of the candidate” (if the ad is paid for by a person other than the candidate or candidate committee).

Follow the instructions on the letter and/or submit payment via PayPal with no fee or by checks made payable to the “Hawaii Election Campaign Fund” then mail the check to the following address:

Campaign Spending Commission
235 South Beretania Street, Room 300
Honolulu, Hawaii  96813

Online Payment Link: http://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/payment/

Yes, however, contributions must be deposited directly into Committee’s Depository (Bank) within seven (7) days of receipt.  Contributions received without the contributor’s information must be declined and returned within thirty (30) days.

Election Year Specific FAQs

By June 30th of an election year, a candidate who does not plan to receive aggregate contributions or make aggregate expenditures of more than $1,000 for the election period must notify the Commission by checking the appropriate box when completing the “Candidate Committee Electronic Filing Form” or by checking the appropriate $1,000 or less box in the committee’s organizational report in the Candidate Filing System, if the committee is already registered with the Commission.  A candidate whose aggregate contributions and expenditures for the election period total $1,000 or less, need only electronically file the Final Election Period Report which is due thirty (30) days after a general election.

However, if the candidate exceeds the $1,000 threshold at any time during the election period, the candidate must file the next required report (i.e., preliminary, final, or special election report) and disclose all activity from the beginning of the election year through the reporting period in which the threshold was exceeded.  All subsequent reports must be filed thereafter until the candidate terminates his/her committee’s registration with the Commission or enters a subsequent election year in which the candidate committee does not plan to receive aggregate contributions or make aggregate expenditures of more than $1,000 for that election period.

View a sample Organizational Report with the appropriate $1,000 or less box checked.

Yes, even if a committee has no activity (i.e., received zero contributions or spent zero money) to report for any applicable reporting period, a disclosure report must still be filed.

The Late Contributions Report must be filed by candidates that receive contributions aggregating more than $500 from any person within the period of fourteen (14) calendar days through four (4) calendar days prior to a primary, special primary, general or special general election.  The report is required to be electronically filed no later than three (3) calendar days before the applicable election for which the candidate is on the ballot.  Contributions listed on the Late Contributions Report will also be listed on an applicable Disclosure Report; however, the contribution data is only entered once.

Go to the Partial Public Funding page:  https://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/cc/public-funding-programs/partial-public-funding/ and review the Partial Public Funding Guidebook for Candidate Committees.

Pursuant to HRS §11-426, on the day that you exceed your expenditure limit, you must:

  • Notify all opponents, the Office of Elections, and the Commission by telephone and in writing on the day the expenditure limit was exceeded;
  • Pay the balance of the full filing fee for nomination papers to the Office of Elections or your respective County Clerk’s Office;
  • Provide reasonable notice to all contributors within thirty (30) days of exceeding the limit that the expenditure limit was exceeded; and
  • Return all public funds (if received) within fourteen (14) days.

At this point in time, you are no longer eligible to receive public funds.

Failure to comply with these steps may result in an administrative fine up to $1,000 as set forth in the Commission’s Schedule of Fines which is available for viewing on the Commission’s website at https://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/legal-resources/schedule-of-fines/.

Non-Election Year Specific FAQs

Yes, as long as you are registered with the Commission, you are required to continue filing disclosure reports.  During the non-election years, two (2) Supplemental Reports are required to be filed.

You will find the reporting deadlines here: http://ags.hawaii.gov/campaign/cc/cc-reporting-schedules/.

If you do not plan to run for office in the next election and currently have no surplus or deficit, you may want to consider terminating your registration with the Commission so that your committee will no longer have to file disclosure reports.  Otherwise, you are required to continue filing disclosure reports with the Commission until your committee’s registration is terminated.

A candidate who loses an election may use campaign funds for any of the authorized expenditures or return funds to contributors until one (1) year from the date of the election for which campaign funds were received.  Funds not returned to contributors shall escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

A candidate who is elected to office may use campaign funds for any of the eight (8) authorized expenditures or return funds to contributors until four (4) years from the date of the election for which campaign funds were received.  Funds not returned to contributors shall escheat to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

Once the surplus is spent, you may want to consider terminating your registration with the Commission so that your committee will no longer have to file disclosure reports.  Otherwise, you are required to continue filing disclosure reports with the Commission.

If you intend to run for office in the next election and want to carry over your campaign funds, you must file an amended Organizational Report on the Candidate Filing System.  This applies to candidates who failed to be nominated or elected to office who will be running again and candidates who are elected to office who will be running again for a different office to which they were elected and includes term-limited candidates.

Yes, even if a committee has no activity (i.e., received zero contributions or spent zero money) to report for any applicable reporting period, a disclosure report must still be filed.