Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Caution: Creative Accounting at Work Today

Members of Congress, campaign treasurers, and political advisors will be working today to put the best frame around their second-quarter financial picture. They may move things in and out of the picture, clean up certain transactions or adjust figures or wording to make the image more presentable.

Today is the last weekday before the financial books close for the 2013 second-quarter report to the Federal Election Commission. All candidates, party committees and PACs must file a disclosure report covering through June 30. Quarterly reports for candidates are due on 7/15. Monthly PAC reports are due July 20, and quarterly/midyear reports for PACs and parties are due July 31. See FEC reporting chart.

Treasurers will be rushing to process any new contributions received. Political advisers will be sifting through them looking for politically incorrect contributions to be returned. Decisions will be made on whether to repay any outstanding debts or loans. Even making transfers to and from joint fundraising committees can alter the financial picture by hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, holding off recording recent transactions until after 6/30 can delay disclosure for many months.

The June 30 close of the financial books is also one of the best times during the year for candidates and sponsors of PACs to do a double-check of the treasurer. Matching the bank statement balance on June 30 with the cash on hand amount listed in the campaign finance report as of June 30, should show a perfect match. If it doesn’t, you may want to bring in another accountant to provide a second opinion. Although the regular treasurer of the campaign committee, PAC or party committee may be a close friend or longtime associate, there are enough examples of embezzlement and missing funds to warrant the double-check. See Political MoneyLine’s database of cases regarding embezzlement or missing funds.

To search detailed money-in-politics databases, visit Political MoneyLine.

  • RollCallComment

    “Matching the bank statement balance on 6/30 with the cash on hand amount listed in the campaign finance report as of 6/30, should show a perfect match.”

    That’s almost never the case – consider in-transit deposits (credit cards processed on the 30th that haven’t posted to your account yet, for example) and uncleared checks. Just these two factors alone means your cash on hand number will differ from the 6/30 ending cash figure.

    A good treasurer should be able to explain these differences, though, and should have a bank reconciliation that traces the cash on hand number back to the ending cash figure.

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