Campaign Finance: Information for Filing Officers


Duties of a Filing Officer


Assist Filers

  • Obtain the forms and manuals published by the Ethics Commission and make them available at no cost to any committee required to file with the officer. Also, inform the filer that the forms and manuals are available electronically here on our website (§§ 11.0102(3)(a), 11.0102(3)(c))

  • Whenever sending a form or a notice to the treasurer of a candidate committee, also send notice to the candidate (§ 11.0102(3)(c)1)

Maintain Records

  • Develop a filing, coding, and cross-indexing system for filed registrations and reports (§ 11.0102(3)(b))

  • Use an electronic system, such as a spreadsheet, to maintain a current list of committees, reports, and statements that have been filed with the officer (§ 11.0102(3)(g))

Disclose Information to the Public

  • Make reports and statements filed with the officer available to the public for inspection and copying. The officer may charge the cost of copying the report or statement. Reports and statements must be made available no later than the 2nd day following the day they are received (§§ 11.0102(3)(h)), 11.0102(3)(i))

  • Make a list of delinquent filers available to the public (§ 11.0102(3)(f))

  • Provide copies of manuals and election laws to persons other than a committee at cost (§ 11.0102(3)(d))

Ensure Compliance

  • Review each report and statement filed with the officer to ensure it's filed in the correct form, filed on-time, and that it conforms on its face to reporting requirements (§ 11.0102(3)(j))

  • Immediately send notice to a committee when a filing is delinquent, not filed in the proper form, or fails to comply with reporting requirements. Whenever sending a notice to the treasurer of a candidate committee, also send notice to the candidate (§ 11.0102(3)(j))

  • Notify the Commission of any errors or discrepancies in reports or statements, and delinquencies in filings which may be grounds for civil action or criminal prosecution using form ​CF-30. The Commission may then notify the district attorney (§ 11.0102(3)(e))

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Who Needs to Register with a Local Filing Officer?


All party committees, legislative campaign committees, PACs, independent expenditure committees, and conduits register at the state-level with the Ethics Commission. Local filing officers should only accept registrations for local candidate, local recall, and local referenda committees.

Candidates for Local Office

​When ​An individual needs to register a committee as soon as practicable (§ 11.0202(1)(a)) when any of the following are true:

  • The individual has filed nomination papers (§ 11.0101(1)(a)1)

  • The individual is nominated as a candidate by a political party (§ 11.0101(1)(a)2)

  • The individual receives a contribution or makes a disbursement to support their nomination or election to public office (§ 11.0101(1)(a)3)

  • The individual holds a state or local office (§ 11.0101(1)(c))
Two additional critera apply for ballot access:

  • If the individual has been nominated as a candidate by caucus, the candidate must file their registration statement within 5 days of their nomination (§ 8.05(1)(j)2)

  • If an individual wishes to run as a write-in candidate in an election where there is one or more certified candidates, the individual must file a registration statement by noon on the Friday immediately preceding the election or votes for the individual will not be counted (§ 7.50(2)(em))
​Threshold ​$0. An individual must register when they meet any of the conditions in the "When" box.


Recall for Local Office

​When ​An entity must register as a recall committee before circulating recall petitions (§ 9.10(2)(d)). If the entity is not circulating petitions, it must register as a recall committee within 10 business days of passing the $2,000 registration threshold (§ 11.0902(2)).
​Threshold $0. However, an entity not circulating recall petitions is not required to register as a recall committee until they have passed $2,000 in contributions, disbursements, or incurred obligations to support or oppose a recall in a calendar year (§ 11.0902(1)).

Local Referendum

​When An entity must register as a referendum committee within 10 days of exceeding the $10,000 threshold (§ 11.0802(2)) if the entity meets either of the following major purpose tests:

  1. The entity has a major purpose of making expenditures to support or defeat a referendum, as specified in the entity's organizational or governing documents, bylaws, or resolutions (§ 11.0101(28)(a)1).

  2. The entity uses more than 50% of its total spending in a 12-month period on expenditures made to support or defeat a referendum. Fundraising and administrative expenses are not included in this total (§ 11.0101(28)(a)2).
​Threshold $10,000 in contributions, expenditures, or incurred obligations in a calendar year for the purpose of influencing a particular vote at a referendum (§ 11.0802(1)).

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Reporting Periods & Filing Schedule


Continuing, Spring, and General Election Report Periods

Please see the full Campaign Finance Filing Calendar for due dates and filing periods for continuing, spring, and general election reporting periods.

Special Elections

When a special election is called in your district, reporting periods and filing deadlines should be based on the following. If any of the report due dates fall on a non-business day, the report shall be due on the following business day (§ 11.0103(3)(b)):

Pre-Primary Report
  • The pre-primary report should contain all contributions, disbursements, and obligations incurred from the day following the committee's last submitted report through the 15th day preceding the primary (§ 11.0103(3)(a)1). The report should be filed no earlier than 14 days prior to the primary and no later than 8 days preceding the primary. (§§ 11.0204(2)(a), 11.0204(4)(a), 11.0904(2)(a), 11.0904(4)(a))
Pre-Election Report
  • The pre-election report should contain all contributions, disbursements, and obligations incurred from the day following the committee's pre-primary report through the 15th day preceding the election (§ 11.0103(3)(a)1). The report should be filed no earlier than 14 days prior to the election and no later than 8 days preceding the election. (§§ 11.0204(3)(a), 11.0204(5)(a), 11.0904(2)(b), 11.0904(4)(b))
Post-Election Report
  • The post-election report should contain all contributions, disbursements, and obligations incurred from the day following the committee's pre-election through the 22nd day following the election (§ 11.0103(3)(a)3). The report should be filed no earlier than 23 days following the election and no later than 45 days following the election. The post-election report is only required if a continuing report is not due within 45 days following the special election. (§§ 11.0204(3)(c), 11.0204(5)(d)). A referendum committee is not required to file a post-election report.

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Contribution Limits


Contribution limits are set by WIS. STAT. § 11.1101.

​Individual Contributor ​Candidate Committee Contributor ​PAC Contributor Corporation, Labor Union, Association, or American Indian Tribe Contributor
​Candidate for Local Office
  • For districts with a population of 25,000 or fewer, $500
  • For districts with a population of 25,001 or greater, $.02 times the population, up to $6,000
  • For districts with a population of 25,000 or fewer, $500
  • For districts with a population of 25,001 or greater, $.02 times the population, up to $6,000
  • For districts with a population of 20,000 or fewer, $400
  • For districts with a population of 20,001 or greater, $.02 times the population, up to $5,000
​$0
​Recall Committee ​Unlimited ​Unlimited ​Unlimited ​$0
​Referendum ​Unlimited ​Unlimited ​Unlimited ​Unlimited

*The latest federal census or the census information on which the district is based should be used to determine population (§ 11.1101(1)(h)2).

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Forms


​Form Number ​Form Name ​Description
​CF-1 ​Committee Registration ​This form is used to register a committee for the first time or to amend a committee's registration.
​ETHCF-2 ​Campaign Finance Report
Committees may use either the standard or the Excel spreadsheet form to file a finance report. If a committee has had no activity in the reporting period, they may file the Postcard/No Activity report.
​ETHCF-13 Termination Report ​Committees attach this Termination Report to a standard ETHCF-2 form to close out their committee.
ETHCF-14 Exemption Reverification Committees file this form to confirm their eligibility for a filing exemption for the calendar year.
CF-30Notice of Violation (Clerks Only) Clerks should use this form to refer a violation to the Ethics Commission.

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Resources for Filers


Major Provisions of Campaign Finance Law

Campaign Finance Checklists

Committee Manuals


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