TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION RULES

Chapter 18. GENERAL RULES CONCERNING REPORTS

§ 18.1. Forms

§ 18.3. Provision of Forms by Local Filing Authority

§ 18.5. Specification of Office

§ 18.7. Timely Reports and Complete Reports

§ 18.9. Corrected/Amended Reports

§ 18.13. Fine for a Late Report

§ 18.15. Additional Fine

§ 18.17. Report Must be Filed

§ 18.19. Affidavit of Timely Filing

§ 18.21. Jurisdiction to Consider Waiver Request

§ 18.23. Administrative Waiver of Fine

§ 18.24. General Guidelines for Other Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine

§ 18.25. Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I

§ 18.26. Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II

§ 18.27. Sworn Complaints


§ 18.1. Forms

(a) The executive director shall prescribe forms for statements and reports required to be filed with the commission.

(b) The executive director may issue a certificate approving a form submitted to the commission for approval if the form:

(1) provides for the reporting of all information required on the prescribed form;

(2) is substantially similar in paper size and format to the prescribed form; and

(3) will not be confusing to those who use the form.

(c) A filer whose form has been approved by the executive director under Subsection (b) must submit a new form for approval if information required to be reported has changed since the original form was approved.

(d) A filer who files a report using computer software provided by the commission or using computer software that meets commission specifications for a standard file format must enter data for the report in accordance with the instructions provided for the software.

(e) A filer who files a report using computer software provided by the commission must use the most current version of the software.

§ 18.3. Provision of Forms by Local Filing Authority

A local filing authority shall make the appropriate form available for use by persons required to file a report with that filing authority.

§ 18.5. Specification of Office

When a filer is required to identify the office sought by a candidate or held by an officeholder, the filer shall list the title of the public office, including the district and, if the office is an office of a political subdivision, the name of the political subdivision.

§ 18.7. Timely Reports and Complete Reports

(a) A report is timely if it is complete and is filed by the applicable deadline using the reporting method required by law.

(b) The deadline for any report filed electronically with the commission is midnight Central Time Zone on the last day for filing the report under the law requiring the filing of the report.

(c) A report is late if it is:

(1) incomplete;

(2) not filed by the applicable deadline; or

(3) not filed by computer diskette, modem, or other means of electronic transfer and the filer is required by law to file using one of these methods.

§ 18.9. Corrected/Amended Reports

(a) A filer may correct/amend a report filed with the commission or a local filing authority at any time.

(b) A corrected/amended report must clearly identify how the corrected/amended report is different from the report being corrected/amended .

(c) A filer who files a corrected/amended report must submit an affidavit identifying the information that was corrected/amended .

(d) A corrected/amended report is not subject to a late fine if filed in accordance with section 571.0771 or section 305.033(f) of the Government Code, or section 254.0405 of the Election Code, as applicable.

(e) Except as provided by subsections (b) and (c), this section does not apply to a corrected/amended report filed under Section 571.069, Government Code, or a corrected/amended report filed in response to a sworn complaint.

§ 18.13. Fine for a Late Report

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) or (c) of this section, the fine is $500 for:

(1) a late report required to be filed with the commission under Election Code chapter 254 or 257, Government Code chapter 302, Government Code chapter 305, or Government Code chapter 572; or

(2) a late report filed with the commission under Local Government Code chapter 159, subchapter C.

(b) The fine for a report due eight days before an election is $500 for the first day the report is late and $100 for each day thereafter that the report is late, up to a maximum fine of $10,000.

(c) The fine for the first semiannual report under Section 254.063, 254.123, or 254.153, Election Code, that is required to be filed by a candidate or political committee following the primary or general election is $500 for the first day the report is late and $100 for each day thereafter that the report is late, up to a maximum fine of $10,000.

(d) A fine assessed under this chapter is in addition to any other sanction assessed under other law.

§ 18.15. Additional Fine

In addition to any other fine assessed under this chapter, the commission may vote to impose a fine against a filer whose report is more than 30 days late or who has not paid an assessed fine within 10 days after receiving the commission notice of lateness, subject to the statutory limit.

§ 18.17. Report Must be Filed

The payment of a civil or criminal fine for failure to file a report, or for filing a report late, does not satisfy a filer's obligation to file the report.  Late fines continue to accrue until the report is filed.

§ 18.19. Affidavit of Timely Filing

A filer who has been notified by the commission that a report is late but who filed the report on or before the deadline may submit an affidavit to the executive director swearing that the report was timely filed.

§ 18.21. Jurisdiction to Consider Waiver Request

A filer must file a complete report before the executive director or commission will consider a request to waive or reduce a fine assessed for failure to file a timely report.

§ 18.23. Administrative Waiver of Fine

(a) A filer may request the executive director to waive a late fine by submitting an affidavit to the executive director that states facts that establish that:

(1) the report was filed late because of an unforeseen serious medical emergency or condition or a death that involved the filer, a family member or relative of the filer, a member of the filer's household, or a person whose usual job duties include preparation of the report;

(2) the report was filed late as a result of verifiable severe weather at the filer’s location that prevented the filer from filing the report by the applicable deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(3) the report was filed late because the filer was a first responder, as defined in § 6.1 of this title (relating to Definitions), deployed to an emergency situation at the time of the filing deadline or a member of the military deployed on active duty at the time of the filing deadline and the report was filed within a reasonable time after the deadline;

(4) the filer of the personal financial disclosure report is not an elected official, a candidate for election, or a salaried public servant, and the late report:

(A) was the first personal financial disclosure report filed late by the filer under Government Code chapter 572; and

(B) was filed no later than 30 days after the individual was notified that the report appeared to be late;

(5)the filer of the personal financial disclosure report was an unopposed candidate in a primary election, and the late report:

(A) was the first personal financial disclosure report filed late by the filer under Government Code chapter 572; and

(B) was filed before the primary election.

(6) the filer of the campaign finance report:

(A) had filed all previous reports by the applicable deadline;

(B) had no contributions, expenditures, or loans to report; and

(C) filed the report no later than 30 days after the filer was notified that the report appeared to be late;

(7) the filer reasonably relied on incorrect information given to the filer by the agency; or

(8) other administrative error by the agency.

(b) If, in the executive director's discretion, the affidavit establishes grounds for a waiver under this section, the executive director shall waive the fine.

§ 18.24. General Guidelines for Other Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine

(a) A filer who does not qualify for a waiver under section 18.23 of this title (relating to Administrative Waiver of Fine) may request the executive director to waive a late fine by submitting an affidavit to the executive director. The executive director may waive or reduce the late fine if the filer meets the criteria and the late report meets the qualifications under the guidelines set out in sections 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) and 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title.

(b) For purposes of determining a waiver or reduction of a late fine under sections 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) and 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title, a late report will be classified by report type, as follows:

(1) Any report that is not a critical report as defined under subsection (b)(2) will be classified as Report Type I and considered under section 18.25 of this title (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I).

(2) A critical report will be classified as Report Type II and considered under section 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II). A “critical report” is:

(A) a campaign finance pre-election report due 30 days before an election;

(B) a campaign finance pre-election report due 8 days before an election;

(C) a runoff report;

(D) a daily special pre-election report required under Section 254.038 or 254.039, Election Code;

(E) a semiannual report subject to the higher statutory fine under Section 254.042, Election Code; or

(F) a personal financial statement required under Section 572.027, Government Code, if the filer is a candidate with an opponent on the ballot in a primary election.

(c) For purposes of determining a waiver or reduction of a late fine under sections 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) and 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title, a filer requesting a waiver or reduction of a late fine will be categorized by filer type, as follows:

(1) Category A includes candidates for and officeholders of the following offices and specific-purpose committees supporting candidates for and officeholders of the following offices:

(A) statewide office;

(B) legislative office;

(C) district judge;

(D) state appellate court justice;

(E) State Board of Education member; and

(F) Secretary of State.

(2) Category B includes all filers not categorized in Category A, as defined by subsection (c)(1) of this section, or Category C, as defined by subsection (c)(3) of this section. Examples of Category B filers include the following filer types:

(A) lobbyists;

(B) salaried non-elected officials;

(C) candidates for and officeholders of district attorney;

(D) candidates for and officeholders of political party chair; and

(E) political committees with $3,000 or more in annual activity in the calendar year in which the late report was due.

(3) Category C includes:

(A) unsalaried appointed board members and officials; and

(B) political committees with less than $3,000 in annual activity in the calendar year in which the late report was due.

(d) For purposes of a reduction of a late fine under sections 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) and 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title, the following explanations will be accepted as showing good cause:

(1) The report was filed no more than one day late.

(2) The report was filed within seven days of receipt of a late notice.

(3) The report was not a critical report and was prepared and placed in the mail on time but not postmarked by the deadline.

(4) The filer had technical difficulties after regular business hours, but the report was filed on the next business day that the commission's technical support staff was at work.

(5) The filer's address changed and the filer did not receive notice of the filing deadline.

(6) There are no funds in the filer’s campaign or officeholder account and the filer is unemployed.

(7) A first-time filer that is required to file campaign finance reports with a county filing authority and personal financial statements with the commission, who mistakenly files the personal financial statement with the county on the filing deadline and then correctly files with the commission within seven days of realizing the mistake.

(e) For purposes of a reduction of a late fine under sections 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) and 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title, the following explanations will not be accepted as showing good cause:

(1) The filer did not know the report was due.

(2) The filer forgot or the person assigned by the filer to prepare the report forgot.

(3) The campaign was very time-consuming.

(4) The filer’s job was very time-consuming.

(5) The filer was too overwhelmed by responsibilities to file the report on time.

(6) The filer was a candidate who lost an election and did not know to terminate his or her campaign treasurer appointment and file a final report.

(7) The filer left his or her position and did not know he or she was still required to file a report.

(f) A late fine that is reduced under section 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) or 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title will revert to the full amount originally assessed if the reduced fine is not paid within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the letter informing the filer of the reduction.

(g) A filer may appeal a determination made under section 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) or 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title by submitting a request in writing to the commission.

(1) The request for appeal should state the filer’s reasons for requesting an appeal, provide any additional information needed to support the request, and state whether the filer would like the opportunity to appear before the commission and offer testimony regarding the appeal.

(2) After hearing a request for appeal, the commission may affirm the determination made under section 18.25 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I) or 18.26 (relating to Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II) of this title or make a new determination based on facts presented in the appeal.

§ 18.25. Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type I

(a) The executive director shall apply the guidelines set out in this section to a late report classified as Report Type I under section 18.24(b) of this title.

(b) In order to qualify for a waiver or reduction of a late fine under this section, a filer must meet all of the following criteria:

(1) The filer has no more than two prior late offenses in the five (5) years preceding the filing deadline of the late report at issue;

(2) The filer filed the report within thirty (30) days of learning the report was late;

(3) The filer has not had the late fine for the report at issue increased by the commission at a public meeting pursuant to Section 254.042(b), Election Code, or Section 305.033(c) or 572.033(b), Government Code; and

(4) The filer does not have an outstanding late fine

(c) The executive director shall use the following levels chart to determine the level of waiver or reduction of a late fine under this section:

Report Type I Levels Chart
(For All Reports Other Than Critical Reports)

LEVEL # OF PRIORS IN LAST 5 YEARS CATEGORY A
CATEGORY B
CATEGORY C EXPLANATORY NOTE
1 0 Waiver Waiver Waiver  
1.5 1 $150 $100 $50 Level 2 violation with good cause shownª
2 1 $300 $200 $100  
2.5 2 $400 $300 $150 Level 3 violation with good cause shownª
3 2 $500 $500 $250  

ªThe categorization shifts one-half level (from Level 2 to 1.5; from Level 3 to 2.5) if the filer’s explanation qualifies as good cause under section 18.24(d) of this title.

§ 18.26. Administrative Waiver or Reduction of Fine: Report Type II

(a) The executive director shall apply the guidelines set out in this section to a late report classified as Report Type II under section 18.24(b) of this title.

(b) In order to qualify for a waiver or reduction of a late fine under this section, a filer must meet all of the following criteria:

(1) The filer has no more than two prior late offenses in the five (5) years preceding the filing deadline of the late report at issue;

(2) The filer has not had the late fine for the report at issue increased by the commission at a public meeting pursuant to Section 254.042(b), Election Code, or Section 305.033(c) or 572.033(b), Government Code; and

(3) The filer does not have an outstanding late fine

(c) The executive director shall use the following levels chart to determine the level of waiver or reduction of a late fine under this section if:

(1) The late report at issue discloses less than $3,000 in total contributions and less than $3,000 in expenditures for the reporting period;

(2) The late report at issue was filed no more than thirty (30) days after the filer learned that the report was late; and

(3) The filer has no prior late offenses or only one prior late offense in the five (5) years preceding the filing deadline of the late report at issue

Report Type II Levels Chart
(For Critical Reports under section 18.26(c))

LEVEL # OF PRIORS IN LAST 5 YEARS CATEGORY A
CATEGORY B
CATEGORY C EXPLANATORY NOTE
1.5 0 $150 $100 $50 Level 2 violation with good cause shownª
2 0 $300 $200 $100  
2.5 1 $400 $300 $150 Level 3 violation with good cause shownª
3 1 $500 $500 $250  

ªThe categorization shifts one-half level (from Level 2 to 1.5; from Level 3 to 2.5) if the filer’s explanation qualifies as good cause under section 18.24(d) of this title.

(d) The executive director shall use the following formulas chart to determine the level of waiver or reduction of a late fine under this section if:

(1) The late report at issue discloses either $3,000 or more in total contributions or $3,000 or more in expenditures for the reporting period;

(2) The late report at issue was filed over thirty (30) days after the filer learned that the report was late; or

(3) The filer has two (2) prior late offenses in the five (5) years preceding the filing deadline of the late report at issue.

Report Type II Formulas Chart
(For Critical Reports under section 18.26(d))

Category A

NO GOOD CAUSE EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $500 1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $1,000 2nd – 11th days late
+ $500 for every full 30 days thereafter, up to $10,000 12th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30-day segment
GOOD CAUSE SHOWN EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $150 (0 priors); or
Starting Fine = $400 (1 or 2 priors)
1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $1,000 2nd – 11th days late
+ $500 every full 30 days thereafter, up to $10,000 12th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30-day segment

Category B

NO GOOD CAUSE EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $500 1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $500 2nd – 6th days late
+ $250 for every full 30 days thereafter, up to $5,000 7th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30-day segment
GOOD CAUSE SHOWN EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $100 (0 priors); or
Starting Fine = $300 (1 or 2 priors)
1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $500 2nd – 6th days late
+ $250 every full 30 days thereafter, up to $5,000 7th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30-day segment

Category C

NO GOOD CAUSE EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $500 1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $500 2nd – 6th days late
+ $250 for every full 30 days thereafter, up to $5,000 7th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30–day segment
GOOD CAUSE SHOWN EXPLANATORY NOTES
Starting Fine = $50 (0 priors); or
Starting Fine = $150 (1 or 2 priors)
1st day late
+ $100 a day, up to $500 2nd – 6th days late
+ $250 every full 30 days thereafter, up to $5,000 7th day late – Filed Date: Take # of days divided by 30; drop remainder days that do not make a full 30–day segment

(e) Comments:

Report Type II Formulas Chart Examples:

(1) Candidate X seeking the office of State Representative (Category A filer type)
     Report: 30–day pre–election report due February 3, 2014 (Report Type II)
     Filed Date: February 4, 2014 (1 day late; good cause under section 18.24(d))
     Activity: contributions = $10,000; expenditures = $5,000 (use Formulas Chart)
     Prior offenses: none
     Penalty: $500
     Determination: reduction to $150
     Formula Calculation = $150 (Category A, Good Cause, 0 Priors, 1st day late)

 

(2) Large GPAC filing under the regular (semiannual) filing schedule (Category B filer type)
     Report: 30–day pre–election report due February 3, 2014 (Report Type II)
     Filed Date: February 4, 2014 (1 day late; good cause under section 18.24(d))
     Activity: contributions = $10,000; expenditures = $5,000 (use Formulas Chart)
     Prior offenses: two prior late reports in the last five years
     Penalty: $500
     Determination: reduction to $300
     Formula Calculation = $300 (Category B, Good Cause, 2 Priors, 1st day late)

 

(3) Candidate Y seeking the office of District Judge (Category A filer type)
     Report: 8–day pre–election report due February 24, 2014 (Report Type II)
     Filed Date: March 20, 2014 (24 days late; filed within 7 days of late notice; good cause under section 18.24(d))
     Activity: contributions = $10,000; expenditures = $5,000 (use Formulas Chart)
     Prior offenses: none
     Penalty: $2,800
     Determination: reduction to $1,150
     Formula Calculation = $150 (Category A, Good Cause, 0 Priors, 1st day late) + $1,000 (next 10 days late @ $100 per day) + $0 (remaining 13 days late do not add up to full 30-day segment) = $1,150.

 

(4) Large GPAC filing under the regular (semiannual) filing schedule (Category B filer type)
     Report: 30–day pre–election report due February 3, 2014 (Report Type II)
     Filed Date: April 4, 2014 (60 day late)
     Activity: contributions = $10,000; expenditures = $5,000
     Prior offenses: five prior late reports in the last five years
     Penalty: $500
     Determination: no waiver
     Filer did not meet the criteria under subsection (b)(1) of this section because the filer has over two prior late offenses in the five years preceding the report due date.

§ 18.27. Sworn Complaints

(a) The commission may consider the fine amounts established by this chapter in determining the amount of a fine to be assessed in a sworn complaint proceeding.

(b) The commission is not required to waive the fine for a respondent who files a corrected report but may consider the correction to be a mitigating factor in determining the amount of any fine.

 

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