ADOPTED RULES

At its July 11, 2017, meeting, the Texas Ethics Commission voted to adopt amendments to rule §12.81:

§12.81. Technical, Clerical, or De Minimis Violations.
(effective August 3, 2017)
Text of Adopted Rule


§12.81. Technical, Clerical, or De Minimis Violations.
(effective August 3, 2017)
Text of Adopted Rule

The adopted new language is indicated by underlined text.
The deleted language is indicated by [strikethrough] text.

Chapter 12. SWORN COMPLAINTS

Subchapter C. INVESTIGATION AND PRELIMINARY REVIEW

§12.81. Technical, Clerical or De Minimus Violations.

(a) A technical, clerical, or de minimis violation for purposes of §571.0631 of the Government Code may include a first-time allegation against a respondent for:

(1) Typographical or incomplete information on a campaign finance report that is not misleading and [or] does not substantially affect disclosure;

(2) Failure to include a disclosure statement on political advertising;

(3) Failure of a non-incumbent to use the word “for” in a campaign [communication, where the] communication that is not otherwise misleading;

(4) Failure to include the highway right-of-way notice on political advertising;

(5) Using a representation of the state seal by a person who is not an officeholder in political advertising that is not otherwise misleading;

(6) [(5)] Filing a late campaign finance report that [if the total amount of political contributions does not exceed $2,500, the total amount of political expenditures does not exceed $2,500, and the report] is not a report due 30 or 8 days before an election [election,] or a special pre-election report, and the alleged violations do not substantially affect disclosure; [report;]

(7) [(6)] Filing an incomplete or corrected campaign finance report that is not a report due 30 or 8 days before an election or a special pre-election report if:

(A) the total amount of incomplete or incorrectly reported political contributions does not exceed the lesser of 10% of the total amount of political contributions on the corrected report, or $5,000; [or]

(B) the total amount of incomplete or incorrectly reported political expenditures does not exceed the lesser of 10% of the total amount of political expenditures on the corrected report, or $5,000; or

(C) the total amount of incomplete or incorrectly reported political contributions or political expenditures does not exceed the amount of the filing fee for a place on the ballot for the office sought or held by the respondent during the period covered by the report at issue, or, if there is not a set filing fee, $500; [or]

(8) Filing an incomplete or corrected campaign finance report if the incomplete or corrected information is not misleading and does not substantially affect disclosure, including:

(A) the filer’s full name, address, office sought, or office held;  

(B) the identity and date of the election for which the report is filed;

(C) the campaign treasurer’s full name, address, or telephone number;

(D) the full name of each identified candidate or measure or classification by party of candidates supported or opposed by a political committee;

(E) the full name of each identified officeholder or classification by party of officeholders assisted by a political committee;

(F) the amount of total political contributions maintained as of the last day of the reporting period, if the error is a de minimis error as defined by §20.50 of this title;

(G) the purpose of a political expenditure; or

(H) the period covered by the report;

(9) [(7)] Failure to timely file a campaign treasurer appointment if, before filing the campaign treasurer appointment, the total amount of political contributions accepted does not exceed $2,500 and the total amount of political expenditures made or authorized does not exceed $2,500; [$2,500.]

(10) Failure to disclose information related to an out-of-state political committee required by §20.29 or §22.7 of this title if the total amount of political contributions accepted from the committee does not exceed $10,000 and the contributions are otherwise properly disclosed;

(11) Failure to disclose the principal occupation, job title, or employer of a contributor if the total amount of political contributions accepted from the contributor does not exceed $15,000 and the contributions are otherwise properly disclosed;

(12) As a general-purpose committee, making a political contribution to another general-purpose committee without including in its campaign treasurer appointment the name of the recipient committee before making the contribution, if the contributing committee properly disclosed the contribution;

(13) Failure to file a termination report required by §20.317 or §20.417 of this title if the period covered by the termination report is included in a subsequently filed report;

(14) Filing a campaign finance report without using the form prescribed by the commission if the report:

(A) discloses all the information required by chapter 254 of the Election Code and this title;

(B) is substantially similar in size and format to the form prescribed by the commission; and

(C) is not misleading and does not substantially affect disclosure;

(15) Making a political contribution prohibited by §253.1611, Election Code, if the contribution does not exceed the limits by more than $1,000 and the amount in excess is returned to the contributor; or

(16) Failure to timely respond to a sworn complaint if the response is no more than 30 days late and the respondent shows good cause for the late response.

(b) A technical, clerical, or de minimis violation for purposes of §571.0631 of the Government Code may include allegations against a respondent for:

(1) Typographical or incomplete information on a campaign finance report that is not misleading or does not substantially affect disclosure;

(2) Filing an incomplete or corrected campaign finance report if:

(A) the total amount of incomplete or incorrectly reported political contributions does not exceed the lesser of 5% of the total amount of political contributions on the corrected report, or $2,500; or

(B) the total amount of incomplete or incorrectly reported political expenditures does not exceed the lesser of 5% of the total amount of political expenditures on the corrected report, or $2,500; or [$2,500.]

(3) Filing an incomplete or inaccurate campaign finance report by a general-purpose committee if, during the period covered by the report and during each of the two reporting periods preceding the period covered by the report, the committee did not:

(A) accept political contributions totaling $3,000 or more;

(B) accept political contributions from a single person totaling $1,000 or more; or

(C) make political expenditures totaling $3,000 or more.

(c) During the review of a sworn complaint under Chapter 571, Subchapter E of the Government Code, if the executive director determines that all the alleged violations are technical, clerical, or de minimis under subsection (a) of this section, the executive director may enter into an assurance of voluntary compliance with the respondent.  Before entering into an assurance of voluntary compliance, the executive director may require a respondent to correct the violations.

(d) During the review of a sworn complaint under Chapter 571, Subchapter E of the Government Code, if the executive director determines that all the alleged violations are technical, clerical, or de minimis under subsection (b) of this section, the executive director may enter into an agreed resolution with the respondent.  Before entering into an agreed resolution, the executive director may require a respondent to correct the violations.

(e) An assurance of voluntary compliance or an agreed resolution entered into under this section is [are] confidential under §571.140 of the Government Code.

(f) An assurance of voluntary compliance or an agreed resolution entered into under this section may include a penalty not to exceed $500.


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