New State Board of Elections Opinion Clarifies Political Committee Registration Requirement

In a rare formal opinion, the NY State Board of Elections (SBOE) explains that a person or entity must register and file disclosure statements as a political committee when it expends funds to communicate its endorsement of candidate(s) to the general public. Unlike federal law, the SBOE opinion does not treat the “major purpose” of the entity as a factor in determining whether registration is required.

Although not expressly discussed in the opinion, exceptions to the registration requirement presumably remain in effect for labor organizations communicating with their members and newspapers and other publications in respect to the ordinary conduct of such business.

Another open question concerns the Internet, which came into being long after the current Election Law statutes were adopted.  For example, must bloggers and tweeters register as political committees if they similarly expend funds to expressly advocate for or against a candidate?