Requested by: Senator Dave Donley
Prepared by:Christina L. Ellingson
Candidate Coordinator, Campaign Disclosure
Date issued: November 10, 1998
Subject: Value of Campaign Signs & Materials
This letter responds to your October 26 inquiry regarding the value of campaign signs and materials after the election.
You state that the legislative intent of Senate Bill 191 was that campaign signs have zero or nominal value after the conclusion of an election. Staff agrees that this is the case at the point of disbursement. However, if an individual uses old campaign signs or materials in a subsequent campaign for office, the materials must be disclosed as a personal non-monetary contribution to the campaign. The value of those materials must reflect the original cost of the signs depreciated to reflect wear and tear.
AS 15.13.116 Disbursement of campaign assets after election.
(b) After a general, special, municipal, or municipal runoff election, a candidate may retain the ownership of one computer and one printer and of personal property, except money, that was acquired by and for use in the campaign. The current fair market value of the property retained, exclusive of the computer and printer may not exceed $2,500.
AS 15.13.400 Definition of Contribution.
(3) "Contribution" ... means a purchase, payment, promise or obligation to pay, loan or loan guarantee, deposit or gift of money, goods, or services for which charge is ordinarily made and that is made for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate.
AS 15.13.040 Contributions, expenditures and supplying of services to be reported
(a) Except as provided in (g) of this section, each candidate shall make a full report, upon a form prescribed by the commission, listing the date and amount of all expenditures made by the candidate, the total amount of all contributions, including all funds contributed by the candidate.
2 AAC 50.316 Personal contributions by a candidate
(c) A candidate's donation of goods remaining from a prior campaign is a personal contribution.
You have stated that your understanding of AS 15.13.116 (b) as it applies to the use of surplus materials after an election is that there is either no value or nominal value for political campaign signs. You have supported this understanding with excerpts from the committee meetings with regards to the legislative intent of SB191 or the current campaign law that was enacted in 1996.
Staff agrees with your understanding with respect to the disbursement of surplus campaign materials. The campaign disclosure law permits candidates to retain personal ownership of $2,500 of personal property "acquired by and for use in the campaign." AS 15.13.116(b). At the end of a campaign, campaign materials like signs and letterhead have nominal value if kept; no value if they are disposed.
If, a candidate re-uses these campaign materials in a subsequent campaign, they become personal non-monetary contributions from the candidate to the new campaign. 2 AAC 50.316(c). These contributions must be reported on the income and expense statements for the first report of the new campaign.
The value of the materials at the start of a subsequent campaign should reflect the original cost of the signs depreciated to reflect wear and tear. This assessment is consistent with the fact that the signs do have value for a candidate who would otherwise have to purchase new signs.
This advice is consistent with past commission practice and advice staff has given other candidates who have asked how to report these items. Staff routinely fields questions from opponents and members of the public attempting to ascertain whether candidates have accurately disclosed expenditures for their campaign signs.
At the conclusion of a candidates' campaign, the candidate may keep personal property not exceeding $2,500 which was acquired by and for use in the campaign. Campaign signs would be considered as personal property and given a nominal value at the time of the disbursement.
The Commission approved this advisory opinion on March 24, 1999. The advice in this opinion applies only to the specific activity for which the advice was requested.
A copy of the original letter requesting the above advisory opinion is available upon request at the Alaska Public Offices Commission. 907/276-4176.