What is an "electioneering communication"?

M.G.L. Chapter 55, Section 1 defines an electioneering communication as "any broadcast, cable, mail, satellite or print communication that:

  1. refers to a clearly identified candidate; and
  2. is publicly distributed within 90 days before an election in which the candidate is seeking election or reelection; provided, however, that "electioneering communication" shall not include the following communications:
    1. a communication that is disseminated through a means other than a broadcast station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system, newspaper, magazine, periodical, billboard advertisement, or mail;
    2. a communication to less than 100 recipients;
    3. a news story, commentary, letter to the editor, news release, column, op-ed or editorial broadcast by a television station, radio station, cable television system or satellite system, or printed in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical in general circulation;
    4. expenditures or independent expenditures or contributions that must otherwise be reported under this chapter;
    5. a communication from a membership organization exclusively to its members and their families, otherwise known as a membership communication;
    6. bonafide candidate debates or forums and advertising or promotion of the same; and
    7. email communications; and
    8. internet communications which are not paid advertisements."

Electioneering Communications Reports

Electioneering communications reports are required under M.G.L. c. 55, s. 18F and may be referred to as "18F reports".  These reports are filed by individuals, groups and organizations, other than registered political committees, who make or contract to make electioneering communication expenditures of more than $250 (aggregated) in a calendar year. Electioneering communications reports are electroncially filed with OCPF unless the candidate or candidates who are clearly identified in the communication are seeking office in a city or town election; in that event, a paper report is filed with the local election official in the city or town where the election is taking place.

Generally, electioneering communications reports should be filed within seven (7) days of the date the expenditure or expenditures were made. However, if the individual, group or association makes or contracts to make electioneering communications of $1,000 or more (aggregated) within 7 days before the date of an election, the report must be filed within 48 hours after making the expenditure(s).

Electioneering communications reports differ from independent expenditure reports in that, if the individual, group or association making the electioneering communication expenditure(s) receive more than $250 from another party for the purpose of making the expenditure(s), the report must include the name and address of the contributor(s) and the date the funds were received.