FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Secretary of State Ross Miller
Says PACs Must Report All Expenditures
Official interpretation says PACS can no longer mischaracterize the law
(Carson City, NV; December 4, 2009) – Secretary of State Ross Miller is notifying Political Action Committees (PACs) registered in Nevada that, as political organizations, they are authorized only to contribute money designed to affect a primary, general, or special election. Charitable contributions are explicitly permitted from candidate campaign accounts only, and the use of a separate entity to make such contributions circumvents contribution limits set forth in law.
Upon consultation with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and following a news report that certain PACs had given money for non-political purposes, but didn’t report the expenditures, Secretary Milled issued the interpretation to correct what he called a “mischaracterization of the law.”
“The suggestion that there’s a loophole is not correct,” Miller told the Las Vegas Sun this week. “No loophole exists. You can’t claim you’re a political action committee and then turn around and claim you’re not required to report because you’re not engaged in political action. You cannot have it both ways.”
The interpretation states:
“If, as reported in the article, the money was obtained and disseminated for purposes of ‘aiding the community rather than political efforts’, then the entity that was engaged in this alleged activity should never have been allowed to form as a PAC and, by definition, is not a PAC under Nevada law. Even assuming the intent of the entity at the time of formation was lawful, once donations have been made that are outside of the statutory authority, the entity is no longer a PAC.”
When creating the PACs, Secretary Miller said, if organizers had listed the intent as giving community aid as they claim they’ve done, their PAC registration would have been denied.
The interpretation states that PACs are required to file a full campaign and expenditure report by January 15, 2010, the next reporting deadline, if they made expenditures of any kind in the reporting period. The interpretation makes clear that the PAC’s status will be revoked if the Secretary of State’s Office finds unauthorized expenditures have been made. If reports are not filed, or there is reason to believe some expenditures have not been reported, the Secretary of State may investigate and take enforcement action, if needed.
In short, Secretary Miller says in the interpretation that a PAC must be created for political purposes under state law and that “intent must be present throughout the life of the PAC”. Therefore, all contributions to and expenditure by PACs must be reported. If the reports reveal expenditures other than for political purposes, the entity can not remain a legal PAC under state law and such expenditures may result in further investigation by the Secretary of State.
Note to media: The interpretation and accompanying documents are posted under Announcements at www.nvsos.gov.