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Secretary Merrill to Allow Campaign Finance Civil Penalties to be Paid Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Wednesday, October 23, 2019 – MONTGOMERY – Thanks to the leadership provided by Secretary of State John H. Merrill, anyone who has failed to comply with the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) will now have the opportunity to pay civil penalties online.

Notices sent to Political Action Committees and Principal Campaign Committees who have failed to timely file a campaign finance report will now include a violation locator number. This number will be used to log in to a user’s account to pay his or her penalties online.

Those fined will still have the option to mail in a check or money order but will now have the additional option to pay on the Secretary of State’s website, allowing more convenience and flexibility for users.

Any individual or committee who has received a notice prior to today is also able to pay their civil penalty online. To access your violation locator number, please call the Office of the Secretary of State at (334) 242-7210.

“I am proud to report that the Office of the Secretary of State has worked diligently to make the filing process as accommodating as possible. We want to ensure that those campaigning for public office are fully transparent with the people of Alabama, and we are hopeful that this new option will result in a decreased amount of outstanding penalties,” stated Merrill.

Section 17-5-19.1 of the Code of Alabama states that civil penalties levied shall be paid to the Secretary of State’s Office and defines the penalty schedule as follows:

·         First Offense: The lesser of $300 or 10% of the amount of contributions or expenditures not properly reported for a first offense in an election cycle;

·         Second Offense: The lesser of $600 or 15% of the amount of contributions or expenditures not properly reported for a second offense in an election cycle;

·         Third Offense: The lesser of $1,200 or 20% of the amount of contributions or expenditures not properly reported for a third offense in an election cycle; or

·         Fourth Offense: A fourth failure to timely file a required FCPA report creates a rebuttable presumption that the candidate is intentionally violating the reporting requirements. The Secretary of State shall notify the Attorney General and the appropriate district attorney of all persons who violate the filing requirements four or more times in an election cycle.

Section 17-5-19.2 allows any person who receives a civil penalty to seek review of the penalty by filing a written notice with the Secretary of State or Probate Judge no later than 14 days after the date in which the notice was mailed.

Fines paid by individuals and committees to the Secretary of State’s Office are deposited directly into the State General Fund.

 

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