A constituent services account is an account that can be established to pay for constituent services by a successful candidate required to report under 13-37-229. A constituent services account may be established by filing an appropriate form with the commissioner. A successful candidate may deposit only surplus campaign funds in a constituent services account.
The 2007 legislation formalized restrictions on spending these funds, and strictly limited what money can be placed in the account. Detailed reporting requirements were added. Rules were completed in September 2008 following a comment period and hearing. Legislation passed in 2009 (HB 622) requires that “pre-existing accounts” be promptly closed. It also expanded the list of eligible elected officials to include certain local officials. (Those who are required to disclose campaign contributions and expenditures under Sections 13-37-229 and 230, MCA are now eligible to hold a constituent services account.)
The money in the account may be used only for constituent services. The money in the account may not be used for personal benefit. Expenditures from a constituent services account may not be made when the holder of the constituent services account also has an open campaign account.
A person described in MCA 13-37-402 subsection (1) may not establish any account related to the public official's office other than a constituent services account. This subsection does not prohibit a person from establishing a campaign account.
The holder of a constituent services account shall file a quarterly report with the commissioner, by a date established by the commissioner by rule. The report must disclose the source of all money deposited in the account and enumerate expenditures from the account. The report must include the same information as required for a candidate required to report under 13-37-229. The report must be certified as provided in 13-37-231.
The holder of a constituent services account shall close the account within 120 days after the account holder leaves public office.
Separate accounts are encouraged to simplify accounting. However, some candidates choose to use their existing campaign accounts and just change the name on the account.
If you use your existing account, supporting documentation must accompany the Form C-118C. It must include proof of the name change and verification of the amount remaining in the account -- the remaining balance in a closing report for the campaign account must be the same as the opening balance in the constituent services account.
When must a C-118C be filed? Within 120 days of filing a closing campaign finance report, a candidate must dispose of surplus campaign funds. Form C-118 must be filed by a candidate within 135 days after a closing report is filed.
What information must be reported when a C-118C is filed? Pursuant to 13-37-240, MCA, the candidate shall disclose the establishment of a constituent services account. The Form C-118C shall be accompanied by a copy of the transaction between the campaign account and the constituent account. A bank statement showing the transaction satisfies this requirement.
How do I file a C-118C?
A C-118C form must both be filed with the Commissioner of Political Practices. The forms can be filed by:
1- Emailing the scanned C-118 form to firstname.lastname@example.org,
2- Mailing the form to PO Box 202401, Helena MT 59620-2401, or
3- Faxing the form to 406-444-1643 (We advise emailing or calling 444-4942 to ensure your fax was sent through), and
4- Delivering a hard copy of the form(s) in person to the COPP's office at 1209 8th Avenue (one block north of the capitol).
This form is not submitted through the CERS system. Once a constituent services account is established, regular C-8 reports are required.
A constituent services account must be closed within 120 days after the account holder leaves public office.
A candidate must disclose the details of their constituent services account with quarterly C-8 reports until the account is closed.
- 1- Reports must include all expenditures made and interest accrued through the end of the calendar quarter on which the quarterly report is due.
- 2- All expenditures from a constituent services account must be supported by a written log kept by the candidate or their treasurer. The log must document at least one constituent on whose behalf the constituent services were provided (See 44.11.709 (4) (b), ARM, page 106). This requirement is in keeping with the directive in 13-37-401 and 13-37-402, MCA, that funds only be used for constituent services ("to represent and serve constituents"). The log is to be kept as part of your records -- it's not part of the quarterly reporting.
If you have a constituent services account, you must file a C-8 report on these dates:
- 1. January 10, 2019
- 2. April 10, 2019
- 3. July 10, 2019
- 4. October 10, 2019
C-8 and C-118C forms must be filed by sending a digital or hard copy either via email (email@example.com), fax (406-444-1643), mail (PO Box 202401, Helena, MT, 59620-2401), or hand delivered (1209 8th Avenue, Helena, Montana).
- C-8 form
- C-118C form
You may be reimbursed for travel, meal and lodging expenses incurred to provide constituent services (at the rates and reimbursements levels adopted by the Department of Administration). A member of your immediate family may not, however, use your constituent services account for their benefit (See 44.11.107(1)(b) and 44.11.107(2)(c) ARM).
They’re listed in 44.11.107, ARM (beginning on page 102). The list is extensive, so it’s not reproduced here.
Remember that expenditures must be made strictly for services to constituents. Personal use of campaign funds (in this instance, funds now converted to constituent services) is strictly prohibited (See 13-37-240, MCA). If the device will be used to any extent for personal or business use, then only the constituent services portion can be paid with these funds.
When you leave public office, any office supply or equipment purchased with campaign/constituent services account funds that has some remaining value must be donated to charity, or purchased at fair market value with the proceeds donated to charity. (See 44.11.707(3) and (4), ARM.)
No. Constituent services account funds may not be used to pay for direct or indirect expenses related to attendance at a meeting, fundraiser, or gathering at which contributions will be solicited or received by any person, including a political party, political party committee, candidate, or person or committee supporting or opposing a candidate or ballot issue. (See 44.11.706, ARM.)
Political Party Committees are generally established to support or oppose candidates and/or ballot issues; therefore, it’s likely solicitation for or receipt of contributions will occur at such gatherings. In addition, a constituent services account must be used to represent and serve constituents. It is unlikely that attending a political party event would qualify as a constituent service.
Payment of expenses related to education, workshops, and conference participation that are incurred to represent and serve constituents is authorized. (See 44.11.707 (1) (g), ARM).
You must close a constituent services account within 120 days after leaving public office (as defined in 44.11.711 (1), ARM).
Surplus constituent services funds may be donated to any organization or entity, so long as the use of the funds will not violate the personal benefit or campaign contribution prohibitions of 13-37-240 and 13-37-402, MCA, and 44.11.711 (2) ARM.
First, remember that no money from a constituent account can be used for any campaign activity, whether for your campaign or another person's campaign; The money in the account may be used only for constituent services. The money in the account may not be used for personal benefit. Expenditures from a constituent services account may not be made when the holder of the constituent services account also has an open campaign account (See MCA 13-37-240 and MCA 13-37-402).
With that understanding:
- If you are running for the 1) same office and 2) in the same district, you do not need to create a new constituent services account and can re-use your previous account information once you are re-elected.
- If you are running for 1) a new office or 2) in another district, you cannot use a previous constituent services account and will need to create a new constituent services account.
All records and reports filed must be maintained for 4 years after the constituent services account is closed.