By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is reminding candidates and political action committees of the upcoming freeze on fundraising during the Legislative Session known as the Legislative Blackout Period.
The Code of Alabama 1975, § 17-22A-7(b) states the following:
“Candidates for state offices (All statewide offices including Constitutional Officers, Judicial Officers, the Public Service Commission, and State Legislators) and their principal campaign committees … may not solicit or accept, or both, contributions during the period when the Legislature is convened in session.”
The blackout period begins with the start of Session at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, and will conclude within 120 days prior to the date of the primary election, which will be Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.
Merrill said that during this period candidates are encouraged to deactivate any webpages which accept contributions online to avoid inadvertently accepting funds. However, if funds are inadvertently received, the Code of Alabama requires the candidate to report receiving and then returning those funds through the state’s online filing system.
This fundraising freeze does not apply to officials serving at the county or local levels.
Normally, candidates can not raise or accept money while the Legislature is in Session. The exception is within 120 days prior to an election. Even though the Session begins early next Tuesday, this year’s major party primaries are on June 5, so the 120 day rule will go into effect in February, well before this Session ends.
Since candidates can’t raise money after Tuesday morning, and they still have to spend money to campaign, they are eager to raise money these next four days.
“I need your help! The 2017 fundraising reports have closed and I’m behind our goal and there are only 5 days left before the mandatory blackout date for statewide campaign! In other words, we cannot raise money from Jan. 9 through Feb. 5. One candidate has loaned his campaign $600,000. One candidate has PAC money from all across the country rolling in by the 100s of thousands. I have YOU! With only 5 days left please help to reach my $30,000 goal,” Attorney General candidate Alice Martin said in a statement.
Other candidates are making similar appeals as the deadline approaches.
The blackout period begins at noon Tuesday when the Legislature goes into Session. Tuesday is also the first day of major party candidate qualifying.