Campaign Finance Questions…Do You Know the Answer?

Mark Warner announces his Senate intentions today.

Jim Gilmore and Tom Davis are waiting in the bushes somewhere up ahead.

In the midst of this I have questions regarding Senate campaign financing, because otherwise I am operating on assumptions…

I know that in the House of Representatives, you are on a two year cycle.  For instance, the 2008 cycle began the day after election day 2006, and funds raised between then and June 2008 are counted toward the “nomination phase” of the cycle, and funds raised after that are counted toward the “general election phase”, and the day after the election the process begins again.  Life is similar for presidential candidates, except they are on a four year cycle (for the moment, let’s gloss over federal funding, exploratory committees, etc.).  The current one began the day after Election Day 2004, and will continue until the nominations go out.  During those times, individuals are limited to a maximum of $2300 to a candidate during the nomination phase, and another $2300 during the general election phase.

If I have any of that wrong, please let me know.

My assumption was that the senate had similar cycles depending on which class you are in.  By that logic, the Virginia seat up in 2008 had a cycle that started in November 2002, with the nominating phase ending in June 2008, followed by a general election phase.

Question #1-Is that assumption correct?  Are Senate candidates working on a time frame that coincides with their electoral class, or does it coincide with the two election calendar of the House of Representatives?  Not Mario Cuomo brought this to my attention yesterday and said he thought it was the latter.  Why?  Because then Senators had only one bite at the apple for that cycle-individual contributors would max at $4600 for both cycles, but an ambitious House member gunning for the seat and facing no serious opposition could bankroll over three cycles, with contributors potentially being able to max at $13,800.

Next, both Gilmore and Warner launched Presidential campaigns, and closed them down. Both men had contributors, presumably under the same contribution limits as other federal candidates (nominating phase, general election phase, etc.).

Question #2-Can campaign funds transfer? If a candidate closed out a presidential campaign with money in the bank, can it be transferred to a Senate campaign?

Question #3-What are the Contributor Limitations?  Finally, are those who donated to said presidential efforts now limited in what they can contribute for the balance of the nominating phase?  Assume John Doe contributed $2,300.00 to the Gilmore presidential committee.  Can he now contribute to Gilmore’s senate campaign, or is he maxed for the balance of the nominating phase?

Now scold will likely post something about looking it up myself.  Yep, I can do that, and will if needed.  But I am hoping someone out there has these answers and can save me the trouble.

I imagine this morass of moving from state to federal election campaigns and back to a different federal election campaign is but one of the morass’ the candidates will have to pick through.  Tom Davis should have an edge here, as he has been raising funds under federal rules for years.  Gilmore and Warner won statewide races running under Virginia rules, which allow for about any kind of contribution except for corporate contributions.

Know the answers to these questions? Speak up!  Don’t be shy!  Share your knowledge with the world!  Make my life easier! 



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