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Campaign Finance Definitions


See Minn. Stat. Ch. 211A  

Ballot question – a proposition placed on the ballot to be voted on by the voters of one or more political subdivisions but not by all the voters of a state.

Candidate – an individual who seeks nomination or election to a county, municipal, school district, or other political subdivision office.

Committee – a corporation, association, or persons acting together to influence the election or defeat of a candidate or to promote or defeat a ballot question.

Contribution – anything of monetary value that is given or loaned to a candidate or committee for a political purpose.  This does not include a service provided without compensation by an individual.

Disbursement/Expenditure – money, property, office, position, or any other thing of value that passes or is directly or indirectly conveyed, given, promised, paid, expended, pledged, contributed, or lent. 

In-kind contribution – anything of value other than money given by an individual or association for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate or for the purpose of promoting or defeating a ballot question.

Independent expenditure (Minn. Stat. §10A.01 subd. 18) - an expenditure expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, if the expenditure is made without the express or implied consent, authorization, or cooperation of, and not in concert with or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate or any candidate's principal campaign committee or agent.  An independent expenditure is not a contribution to that candidate.  An expenditure by a political party or political party unit in a race where the political party has a candidate on the ballot is not an independent expenditure.

Legal expenditures (Minn. Stat. §211B.12) – money collected for political purposes in which the use of the money is reasonably related to the conduct of election campaigns, or is a non-campaign disbursement as defined in Minn. Stat. §10A.01, subd. 26 (https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=10A.01). 

The following are permitted expenditures when made for political purposes:

  1. Salaries, wages, and fees;
  2. Communications, mailing, transportation, and travel;
  3. Campaign advertising;
  4. Printing;
  5. Office and other space and necessary equipment, furnishings, and incidental supplies;
  6. Charitable contributions of not more than $100 to any charity organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code annually, except that the amount contributed by a principal campaign committee that dissolves within one year after the contribution is made is not limited by this clause; and
  7. Other expenses, not included in clauses (1) to (6), that are reasonably related to the conduct of election campaign.  In addition, expenditures made for the purpose of providing information to constituents, whether or not related to the conduct of an election, are permitted expenses.  Money collected for political purposes and assets of a political committee or political fund may not be converted to personal use.

Political purpose – anything of a nature, done with the intent, or done in a way to influence or tend to influence, directly or indirectly, voting at a primary or an election or if it is done because a person is about to vote, has voted, or has refrained from voting at a primary or an election.