TEXAS ETHICS COMMISSION
ETHICS ADVISORY OPINION NO. 231
October 14, 1994
Reporting pledges of political contributions. (AOR-258)
The Texas Ethics Commission has been asked about the appropriate time to report pledges of political contributions.1 Under title 15 of the Election Code, a "contribution" means a direct or indirect transfer of money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, and includes an agreement to make a transfer, whether or not that agreement is legally enforceable. Elec. Code § 251.001; 1 T.A.C. § 20.1. In other words, a promise or other agreement to make a transfer in the future is itself a contribution. An agreement to make a future transfer is referred to as a "pledge" in Ethics Commission rules and on Ethics Commission forms. See 1. T.A.C. § 20.1. The date of the pledge is the date of acceptance of the pledge2 and the pledge must be reported on the title 15 report covering the period in which the pledge is accepted. See Elec. Code § 254.031(a)(1), (5) (reporting political contributions generally); 1 T.A.C. §§ 20.219(12), 20.279(7)(8) (Ethics Commission rules for reporting pledges on a candidate's or officeholder's sworn report of contributions and expenditures). Once a contribution in the form of a pledge is reported, the candidate or officeholder is not required to report the contribution a second time when it is actually received.
An agreement to transfer money in the future is a contribution. That type of contribution is referred to as a "pledge" in Ethics Commission rules and forms. A pledge accepted by a candidate or officeholder must be reported on the report covering the period in which the pledge is accepted, not when the actual transfer of money or goods is made. Once a pledge is reported, it is not necessary to report the contribution a second time when the transfer is made.
1 A "political contribution" is a contribution given either to a candidate for use in connection with a campaign for elective office or to an officeholder to defray expenses incurred while performing duties of office that are not reimbursable with public funds. Elec. Code § 251.001(3) (5). A political contribution may also be given to a political committee for the same purposes. Id.
2 If a pledge is not accepted, it is not considered a contribution.