Information for Candidates and Candidate Committees

​Definition of a Candidate & Committee

Wisconsin campaign finance law requires candidates for public office to register their intent to run for office, establish a campaign committee to raise and spend money, disclose their campaign receipts and disbursements, and to abide by certain contribution limits and prohibitions.
"Candidate" means an individual about whom any of the following applies:
(a) The individual takes any of the following affirmative actions to seek nomination or election to a state or local office:
1. Files nomination papers with the appropriate filing officer.
2. Is nominated as a candidate for state or local office by a caucus under Wis. Stat. § 8.05(1) or by a political party and the nomination is certified to the appropriate filing officer.
3. Receives a contribution, makes a disbursement, or gives consent for another person to receive a contribution or make a disbursement in order to bring about the individual's nomination or election to a state or local office.
(b) The individual holds a state or local office and is the subject of a recall petition.
(c) The individual holds a state or local office. [Wis. Stat. § 11.0101(1)]
State offices are those of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, state superintendent, circuit court judge, court of appeals judge, supreme court justice, state senator, state representative to the assembly, and district attorney [Wis. Stat. § 5.02(23)].
"Committee" means a candidate committee, legislative campaign committee, political action committee, independent expenditure committee, political party, recall committee, and referendum committee. [Wis. Stat. § 11.0101(6)]


Each candidate, through his or her candidate committee, shall file a registration statement with the appropriate filing officer giving the information required under Wis. Stat. § 11.0203 as soon as practicable after the individual qualifies as a candidate under Wis. Stat. § 11.0101(1). Each candidate shall either designate a treasurer of his or her candidate committee to comply with the registration and reporting requirements, or serve as the treasurer and comply with the registration and reporting requirements. If the candidate appoints a treasurer, the candidate and the candidate's treasurer shall cosign the registration statement of the candidate's committee. The Ethics Commission is the filing officer for state candidates, who should register through the Campaign Finance Information System (CFIS). Local clerks (e.g., municipality, county, school board) are the filing officers for local candidates. Local candidates can obtain a registration statement from their filing officer or from the Ethics Commission website in the resource finder tool


A candidate on the April ballot will file a Spring Pre-Primary, Spring Pre-Election, July Continuing, and January Continuing report. Candidates on the November ballot must file a July Continuing, Fall Pre-Primary, September Continuing, Fall Pre-Election, and January Continuing report. The January and July Continuing reports will now be due on the 15th of those months. Every state committee other than a personal campaign committee must file a pre-primary and pre-election report if the committee is participating in the election. Candidate committees, party committees, and legislative campaign committees must report contribution(s) of $1,000 or more, from a single contributor, received within 15 days of a primary or election within 72 hours of receipt on the new ETHCF-3.

Campaign Finance Checklists