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Chapter 1 - Candidates

The following are the key issues of which candidates should be aware in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of the legislation.

1.1.      Appointment of an election agent

1.2.      Assignment of a portion of spending limit to his/her political party

1.3.      Donations

1.4.      Opening and maintaining a political donations account

1.5.      Prohibited Donations

1.6.      Persons who may be incurring unauthorised expenditure

1.7.      Furnishing the required statutory documentation

1.8.      Claiming a reimbursement of election expenses

1.9.      Offences and penalties

 

1.1      Appointment of an election agent

1.1.1    Each candidate shall appoint an election agent [Section 28(2)(a)].  The election agent, for the purposes of this Act, is the person who will be responsible for accounting for expenditure on the candidate's campaign.  The election agent appointed under this Act is not necessarily the same person who will be present on the candidate's behalf for the counting of votes and who acts on the candidate's behalf for other specific purposes set out in the 1992 Electoral Act.

1.1.2    Ideally, the appointment of the candidate's election agent should be made before any election expenses are incurred.  If election expenses are incurred before the election agent is appointed, the candidate must give the election agent details of any such expenses together with all relevant invoices/receipts [Section 31(8)].   It is an offence for a candidate to fail to comply with this requirement [Section 31(8A)].

1.1.3    Candidates should give careful consideration to the appointment of an election agent.  The election agent should be comfortable with keeping accounts.  He/she must maintain proper records of all transactions relating to spending on the candidate's election campaign and retain receipts, invoices or vouchers for inspection, and for public display, by the Standards Commission.

1.1.4    The candidate must notify the Returning Officer for the constituency, in writing, of the name of the election agent and the address of the office of the agent.  This must be done not later than the last day for receiving nominations at the election, 12 noon, 11 February 2016 [Section 28(2)(a)]. There is no provision on the nomination papers for the candidate to give details of his/her election agent.  The Standards Commission has issued a form to the Returning Officers which a candidate may use to give details of his/her election agent.  The Returning Officer will inform the Standards Commission of the name and address of the election agent appointed.  It is very important that candidates ensure that the person notified to the Returning Officer is the person they intend having as their election agent (i.e., the person who will be responsible for accounting for expenditure on the candidate's campaign).  The Standards Commission will accept an Election Expenses Statement only from the person notified to it by the Returning Officer as the candidate's election agent.

1.1.5    A candidate may act as his/her own election agent [Section 28(2)(b)].  If a candidate does not notify the Returning Officer of the appointment of an election agent by the last day for receiving nominations he/she will be deemed to be acting as his/her own election agent [Section 28(3)(b)].  A candidate who acts as his/her own election agent will also be required to comply with the provisions of the Act applying to election agents [Section 28(2)(b)] (see Chapter 2). 

1.1.6    A candidate's election agent can authorise other people, including the candidate, to incur expenses or make payments in connection with the candidate's campaign.  A person who is authorised in this way is entitled to incur expenses or make payments only within the specific financial limit laid down by the election agent [Section 31(5)].  The national agent of a candidate's political party, the candidate's election agent or a person authorised by the candidate’s election agent are the only persons who can incur expenses or make payments in connection with the candidate's election campaign [Section 31(4)].  The election agent must subsequently account for such expenses or payments.

1.1.7    A candidate may, at any time, revoke the appointment of an election agent (including his/her own appointment as election agent) [Section 28 (4)].  Where the appointment of an election agent has been revoked, it is the candidate who must notify the Returning Officer in writing of the name and address of the new election agent [Section 28(5)] (including the candidate's own details if he/she intends to act as his/her own election agent [Section 28(6)(b)]).  The Returning Officer must then advise the Standards Commission in writing of the change of election agent and his/her contact details. The Standards Commission cannot accept an Election Expenses Statement (EES) if the Election Agent notified to it by the Returning Officer does not match the name of the Election Agent on the EES.

1.1.8    The same person may act as election agent for more than one candidate. In such circumstances the election agent is separately responsible for each candidate. Great care must be taken to ensure that separate records and accounts are kept for each candidate and that it is possible to apportion expenses between the different candidates where this is necessary. Separate Election Expenses Statements must be submitted in respect of each candidate.

          Non-party candidates may proceed to Paragraph 1.3

 

1.2      Assignment of a portion of a candidate's statutory spending limit to his/her political party

1.2.1    If a candidate is contesting the election on behalf of a political party he/she must agree, in writing, with the party, the amount of the candidate's spending limit which the candidate is assigning to the party [Section 32(1)(b)(i)].  The candidate is not legally required to make any assignment to the party.  If, however, an assignment is made by a candidate to the party, the spending limit of the candidate's own election agent is reduced by that amount.  The national agent of the candidate's political party can, out of the amount which has been assigned by the candidate to the party, incur expenses or make payments on behalf of the candidate or on the party’s national campaign [Section 32(1)(b)(ii)].  Under no circumstances can total spending on a candidate exceed the statutory spending limit for the candidate [Section 32(1)(a)]. 

The following is an example of how the spending limit is calculated following assignment by the candidate to the party:

                                                                                                                       

                    Statutory Spending Limit                               €37,650 (4 seat Constituency)          

                    Amount Assigned by Candidate                    €10,000          

                    Amount Election Agent Can Spend               €27,650          

1.2.2    The Act does not specify when the agreed assignment between the candidate and the political party should be made.  Similarly, the Act does not preclude a re-negotiation of the agreed assignment.  The Standards Commission strongly advises, however, that the agreed assignment should be finalised before any expenses are incurred by either the candidate's election agent or the party's national agent.

1.2.3    The Act provides that the amount assigned to a political party must be agreed in writing between the candidate and the party[Section 32(1)(b)(i)].  The written agreement, therefore, should clearly state the amount assigned to the party and should be signed by the candidate and the appropriate party official.  Where assignments are re-negotiated, a new written agreement must be made.  A copy of the written agreement should be given to the candidate's election agent.  The election agent will be required to furnish a copy of the written agreement with his/her Election Expenses Statement[Section 36(1)(c)].

 

1.3 Donations

 (a)  Keeping a record of donations

1.3.1    It is the candidate who is required to comply with the requirements of the Act regarding the recording and disclosure of donations [Section 24(2)(a)].  It is important, therefore, that candidates keep a record of donations received in relation to the election for the purposes of furnishing a Donation Statement to the Standards Commission after the election (see section 1.7).  Candidates should know the name, description, postal address of the donor, date on which donation was received, whether the donation was requested (and if so name and address of person who requested it) and whether a receipt issued in respect of the donation (and if so date of receipt and name of receipt issuer) [Section 24(2)(a)].

1.3.2    The candidate is also responsible for ensuring that donations accepted by him/her are not prohibited under the Act (see section 1.5).  This is particularly important where donations are received online.  Where a candidate is accepting donations through a website he/she must ensure that he/she can properly identify the source of the donation and that he/she is not prohibited from accepting a donation from the donor.  It is also important for disclosure purposes and for the purposes of adhering to the maximum acceptance limit that the candidate has a system in place which will aggregate all donations whether received online from the same donor (by credit card, laser card etc.) and/or received by other means. 

(b)    What is a donation?

1.3.3    A donation is defined in the Act [Section 22(2)(a)] as meaning any contribution given for political purposes by any person, whether or not a member of a political party, to, among others, a candidate at a Dáil election and includes all or any of the following, namely:

i.          a donation of money [Section 22(2)(a)(i)];

ii.         a donation of property or goods, i.e., a donation in kind [Section 22(2)(a)(ii)];

iii.        the free use of property or goods [Section 22(2)(a)(iii)] (i.e. conferring the right to use, without payment or other consideration, indefinitely or for a specified period of time, any property or goods);

iv.        a free supply of services [Section 22(2)(a)(iv)] (i.e. the supply of services without payment or other consideration);

v.         the difference between the usual commercial price and the (lower) price charged for the purchase, acquisition or use of property or goods, or the supply of any service, where the price, fee or other consideration is less than the usual commercial price [Section 22(2)(a)(v)] (this can include a loan provided by a third party or by a financial institution at terms and conditions which are more favourable than that provided by a financial institution to other individuals in the normal course of business);

vi.        a contribution made by a person to a fund-raising event organised for the purpose of raising funds for a candidate or a political party [Section 22(2)(a)(vi) & (vii)]. The donation is that proportion of the contribution which is attributable to the net profit, if any, deriving from the event. Donations are deemed to have been received on the date of the actual fund-raiser (and not when actually received). The position with regard to fund-raising events is explained in greater detail in Appendix 2 of these guidelines;

vii.       a payment by the person on their own behalf, or on behalf of one or more than one other person, of a fee or subscription for membership or continued membership of a political party [Section 22(2)(a)(viii)] (membership fees include any membership fees/levies/subscriptions paid to any sub-unit of a political party);

1.3.4    A donation made to a candidate at a Dáil election through an intermediary, agent or other person acting for the candidate shall be deemed to be a donation made to the candidate directly, unless the donation is passed on to the political party of which he/she is a member and a written acknowledgement is received by the candidate, in which case the donation is deemed to be a donation to the political party [Section 22(2)(c)(ii)].

1.3.5    If more than one member of the same family, or other group, make donations to the same Member, candidate or presidential election agent, sub-unit or political party, including where donations of money are made from a joint account in a financial institution, it must be clear that these are separate donations from each of the individuals/party concerned. Otherwise, the values of the donations must be aggregated and treated as a single donation for disclosure purposes and for the purpose of observing the maximum limit applying to the acceptance of donations. Similarly, if a company and any of its directors make a donation to the same Member, candidate or presidential election agent, sub-unit or political party it must be clear that these are separate donations. In such circumstances the Standards Commission may look for evidence that the donations are from separate legal entities. In each case, the election agent and/or candidate/presidential election agent, sub-unit or political party must make whatever enquiries are necessary in order to be satisfied as to the position with regard to the donation.

1.3.6    A "person" [Section 2(1)] can be:

(i)         an individual;

(ii)        a body corporate (e.g., a public or private company) and any subsidiary thereof.  In this regard section 155 of the Companies Act should be applied when determining whether a company is a subsidiary of another company.   Where donations are received from associated companies the candidate should enquire from the donors whether, under section 155 of the Companies Act, one or other of the companies is a subsidiary of the other;

(iii)       an unincorporated body of persons, e.g., a political party, a partnership, a residents association, a lobby group.

A "corporate donor" is defined [Section 22(2)(aa)] as including:

(i)           a body corporate;

(ii)          an unincorporated body of persons;  or

(iii)         a trust

which makes a donation.  A body corporate and any subsidiary thereof are deemed to be one person.

1.3.7    Donations with a value, or donations from the same person with an aggregate value, of more than €600 must be disclosed [Section 24(4)].  Where the same person makes more than one donation to a candidate in relation to the election, the values of the donations must be aggregated and treated as a single donation for disclosure purposes [Section 22(2)(d)].

1.3.8    A donation to a candidate also includes money given to a candidate by his/her political party [Section 22(2)(b)(vi)].

1.3.9    Where expenses are incurred on a candidate's behalf by an individual or body other than a political party as defined in the Act and the expenses are borne by the individual/body, the expenses may be regarded as a donation to the candidate.

(c)   What is not a donation

1.3.10  Items that are not regarded as donations to a candidate include [Section 22(2)(b)(i)]:

(i)      free post service provided to candidates by An Post [Section 22(2)(b)(i)];

(ii)     any payment, service or facility provided to the candidate out of public funds or moneys provided by an institution of the European Communities or other intergovernmental organisation to which the State is a party, pursuant to specified legislation, by virtue of the candidate being:

·         a representative in the European Parliament;

·         a member of the Seanad;

·         the holder of a qualifying office or position;

·         the holder of an elective or other public office; or

·         a member of, delegate to, or representative in a body established by or under an agreement or arrangement to which the State is a party; [Section 22(2)(b)(ii)]

It is important to note that this provision only applies where the candidate by virtue of his/her position or office, is entitled to use the services/facilities provided out of public funds.  For instance, if a candidate who is not a Member of the Houses of the Oireachtas is provided with the free use of Oireachtas facilities (e.g., telephones), it is regarded as a donation from the Member allowing the candidate to avail of the facilities.

(iii)    a free service provided by an individual, including use of the individual's motor vehicle, private telephone, etc., where the service provided is not part of the individual's work or business [Section 22(2)(b)(iii)(I)].  It is important to note that the reference in this particular provision of the Act (section 22(2)(b)(iii)(I) is specific to an individual and to the use of an individual's motor vehicle (singular).  If more than one vehicle is provided by an individual, the additional vehicles may be regarded as donations and as election expenses.  If a vehicle which is in the ownership of a company, partnership, business etc., is provided to a candidate, it is not regarded as a free service provided by an individual.  In such circumstances the use of the vehicle is regarded as a donation and as an election expense.  The commercial cost of hiring a similar vehicle for a similar period must be ascertained for the purposes of disclosing its value as a donation and for the purposes of disclosing its use during the election period, as an election expense;

(iv)    a service provided at an election by an employee of a political party, including use of the individual's motor vehicle, where the employee's remuneration is paid out of party resources or out of public funds and where the employee is not in receipt of any reward or benefit-in-kind other than his/her normal remuneration (including recoupment of expenses) for that service [Section 22(2)(b)(iii)(II)];

(v)     normal media coverage and the transmission on radio or television of a broadcast on behalf of the candidate [Section 22(2)(b)(iv)&(v)]; [This does not cover any production, or other costs associated with such a broadcast.];

(vi)    expenses incurred or payments made by a political party on behalf of the candidate, other than a donation of money [Section 22(2)(b)(vi)];

(vii)   the services of an accountant, or other person, who is engaged for the specific purpose of assisting compliance with the requirements of the legislation;

(viii)  the services of personation officers on polling day.

(d)  Expenses incurred by an organisation or body (other than a registered political party)

1.3.11  As stated in paragraph 1.3.10(vi) above, expenses incurred by a political party on behalf of a candidate are not regarded as a donation to the candidate [Section 22(2)(b)(vi)].  Only expenses incurred by a registered political party are not regarded as a donation to a candidate.  If an organisation is not registered in the Register of Political Parties as a party organised to contest a Dáil or European election it is not regarded as a political party for the purposes of the Act.  In that regard, therefore, expenses incurred by "third parties" on a candidate are regarded as donations to the candidate and are subject to disclosure limits and to the rules regarding prohibited donations (see paragraphs 1.5 below).

(e)   Loans to candidates

1.3.12  Where a loan is provided to a candidate by a financial institution, and the normal rules attaching to such loans apply, the loan is not regarded as a donation to the candidate.  However, where a loan is provided to a candidate by a financial institution in circumstances where either the interest charged is less than the lowest rate available from the financial institution or the loan is not repaid in accordance with the terms and conditions under which the loan was issued or is only partially repaid, the benefit to the candidate may be regarded as a donation and may, therefore, be subject to the disclosure and maximum limits applying to the acceptance of donations.

1.3.13  Where an individual or body, who or which is not a financial institution, gives a loan to a candidate it must be evident that the loan offered is a bona fide loan.  In that regard the following would apply:

(i)         as with a loan from a financial institution, the terms and conditions applying to the loan and its repayment must be stated clearly in writing.

(ii)        interest is chargeable on the loan at a rate (whether fixed or variable) which reflects the interest charged by financial institutions on loans of a similar amount and duration.  Where the interest charged is less than the lowest rate available from a financial institution, the benefit accruing from the difference in rates is regarded as a donation to the candidate.

(iii)       the Standards Commission may require sight of the terms and conditions, including the interest charge, applying to the loan and may require confirmation that the loan has been repaid in accordance with these terms and conditions.  If the loan is not repaid in accordance with the terms and conditions, or is only partly repaid, the benefit of such non-repayment may be regarded as a donation to the candidate.

(f)   Cross-canvassing

1.3.14  A donation to a candidate also includes a situation where another candidate ("running mate" or otherwise) includes in his/her election material an endorsement which solicits support for the candidate, the value of the reference to the candidate in the other candidate's election material is regarded as a donation to the candidate [In this regard see paragraph 2.2.7 on cross-canvassing].

 

1.4      Opening and maintaining a political donations account

1.4.1    If a candidate receives, in any particular calendar year, a monetary donation, the value of which exceeds €100, he/she must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution in the State[Section 23B(1)].  A credit union is not regarded as a "financial institution" for the purposes of the legislation [Section 22(2)(aa)(a)].  The candidate must lodge that donation and any further monetary donations, of whatever value, received by him/her to that account.  The account should be separate from any other personal account held by the candidate.  The account should be in the candidate's name and he/she should be the authorised signatory on the account.  All monies withdrawn from the account must be used for political purposes [Section 23B(3)(b)].

1.4.2    If a candidate already operates a political donations account he/she should not open a separate political donations account specifically for the election.  The candidate should ensure, instead, that all monetary donations, of whatever value, received in relation to the election are lodged to his/her existing political donations account.  If the candidate wishes to open a specific "election account" he/she can transfer money from his/her political donations account to the election account.  Monies transferred to an election account could be regarded as having been used for electoral purposes.

1.4.3    It should be noted that a candidate who is elected will have an ongoing requirement as a member of Dáil Éireann to maintain his/her political donations account and will be required, on an annual basis, to furnish documentation relating to the account to the Standards Commission.

 

1.5 Prohibited donations

(a)  Anonymous donations

1.5.1    Acceptance of an anonymous donation exceeding a value of €100 is prohibited [Section 23(1)].  A donation is anonymous if a candidate does not know the name and address of the donor. The onus is on the recipient to ensure that the name and address of the donor is known. If a prohibited anonymous donation is received by a candidate, the Standards Commission must be notified by the candidate within fourteen days of its receipt.  The donation or its value must also be remitted by the candidate to the Standards Commission [Section 23(2)].

(b) Cash donations in excess of €200

1.5.2    Acceptance of a cash donation exceeding €200 in value is prohibited [Section 23A(1)(c)(iii)].

1.5.3    If such a donation is received, the recipient of the donation must, within 14 days of receipt of the donation, return the donation to the donor or the part of it exceeding the limit and keep a written record of the return for the purpose of it being furnished to the Standards Commission, if required; or, the recipient must, within fourteen days of receipt, notify the Standards Commission of receipt of the donation and remit the donation or the part of it exceeding the limit to the Standards Commission [Section 23A(5)].

(c) Donations by non-registered corporate donor in excess of €200

1.5.4    It is prohibited to accept a donation exceeding €200 in value from a corporate donor [Section 23AA(1)] unless the corporate donor is registered in the Register of Corporate Donors maintained by the Commission [Section 23AA(1)(i)] and a statement is made on behalf of the corporate donor (and furnished with the donation to the donee) confirming that the making of the donation was approved by the corporate donor [Section 23AA(1)(ii)]. The statement must be accompanied by a statutory declaration that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the person concerned, the statement is correct in every material respect and that the person has taken all reasonable action in order to satisfy him/herself as to the accuracy of the statement [Section 23AA(2)].

1.5.5    If a donation is received from a non-registered corporate donor, the recipient of the donation must, within 14 days of receipt of the donation, return the donation to the donor, or if it is a monetary donation the part of it exceeding the limit, and keep a written record of the return for the purpose of it being furnished to the Standards Commission, if required; or, the recipient must, within fourteen days of receipt, notify the Standards Commission of receipt of the donation and remit the donation, or if it is a monetary donation the part of it exceeding the limit, to the Standards Commission [Section 23AA(6)].

(d) Foreign donations

1.5.6    A candidate must not accept a "foreign donation" [Section 23A(2)].  A foreign donation is a donation of whatever value, given by an individual (other than an Irish citizen) who resides outside the island of Ireland or by a body corporate or unincorporated body of persons which does not keep an office in the island of Ireland from which the carrying out of one or more of its principal activities is directed. The onus is on the recipient of the donation to satisfy him/herself that the donor is an Irish citizen.

1.5.7    A foreign donation must be notified and remitted to the Standards Commission by the candidate within 14 days of its receipt.  As an alternative, the candidate may return the donation to the donor [Section 23A(5)].  If the donation is returned, the candidate must keep a written record of that return for the purpose of its being furnished to the Standards Commission, if required.

(e) Donations in excess of the prescribed limit

1.5.8    The maximum value of donation(s) which may be accepted by a candidate from a particular person in a particular calendar year, either directly or through an intermediary, is €1,000 [Section 23A(1)(i)].  Where a person makes more than one donation to a candidate in a particular year the values of the donations must be aggregated for the purpose of observing the maximum limit [Section 23A(3)].

1.5.9    The maximum limit does not apply to a constituency office provided to the candidate by a person or, if more than one such office is provided, to whichever of the offices is nominated in writing by the candidate [Section 23A(4)].  It is important to note that although the maximum limit may not apply to a donation of a constituency office, such a donation must be disclosed if the value exceeds €600 [Section 24(4)].

1.5.10  The maximum limit does, however, apply to monetary donations received by a candidate from his/her political party [Section 22(2)(b)(vi)].  Donations of money from any branch of the party (including party headquarters) must be aggregated for the purpose of observing the maximum limit and treated as a single donation from the party[Section 22(2)(c) and 22(2)(d)(ii)].

1.5.11  Where a donation is received and is prohibited because its value is over the limit, the candidate must notify the Standards Commission within 14 days of its receipt and remit the donation, or that part of a monetary donation which is over the limit, to the Standards Commission [Section 23A(5)(b)].  As an alternative, the candidate may return the donation, or that part of a monetary donation which is over the limit, to the donor and keep a written record of that return for the purpose of its being furnished to the Standards Commission, if required [Section 23A(5)(a)].

 (f) Other prohibited donations

1.5.12  There is another type of donation which a candidate is prohibited from accepting.  To explain this it is necessary to say that, in accordance with section 24(1A) of the Act, individual donors who make donations, with a total value in excess of €1,500 in any calendar year, to two or more members of the same political party (or to a political party and one or more of its members), are themselves required to furnish a Donation Statement and Statutory Declaration to the Standards Commission disclosing details of the donations.  If the donor in question does not intend to comply with this requirement, and if a candidate is aware of this, the candidate is prohibited from accepting a donation from the donor.

1.5.13  If such a prohibited donation is received by a candidate, the Standards Commission must be notified by the candidate within 14 days of its receipt.  The donation, or its value, must also be remitted by the candidate to the Standards Commission [Section 24A(3)].

1.5.14  Failure to notify, remit or return, as appropriate, a prohibited donation is an offence[Section 25(1)].

 

1.6      Persons who may be incurring unauthorised expenditure to promote/oppose candidates at the election

1.6.1    It is an offence for a candidate, or anybody else, including, for example, a local branch of a political party, to incur expenses or make payments in connection with a candidate's campaign if this is not authorised by the candidate's election agent or the national agent of the candidate's political party.  This includes accepting a donation of election material or a service, e.g., leaflets or advertising, either free or below commercial price.

1.6.2    Notices or advertisements in newspapers, magazines or other periodical publications which promote or oppose the interests of a political party or a candidate may be placed only if requested by a candidate, a candidate's election agent, a national agent of a political party or a person authorised in writing by the candidate or either agent [Section 31(10)].

1.6.3    "Third parties" or "other persons" may place notices or advertisements in newspapers, magazines or periodical publications if they produce to the publisher a Certificate of Authorisation from the Standards Commission confirming that they have complied with their legal obligations [Section 31(10)]. This Certificate is issued by the Standards Commission when all the relevant information is received from the third party/other person. The Standards Commission will notify publishers of the requirements of the Act in this regard.

1.6.4    Each candidate is advised to be aware of any such expenditure being incurred on his/her behalf by directors of elections or other persons.  If a candidate becomes aware that a person, other than his/her election agent or the national agent of the political party, is incurring expenses on his/her behalf at the election, the candidate should ensure that this has been authorised by either such agent.  If it has not been authorised, the person incurring the expenses would be committing an offence unless a certificate to incur the expenses has been issued to the person by the Standards Commission.  If necessary, the candidate should bring the matter to the attention of the Standards Commission and appropriate action will be taken.

 

1.7      Furnishing the required statutory documentation after the election

(a) Unsuccessful candidates

1.7.1    If a candidate is unsuccessful at the election, he/she must, within 56 days after polling day (i.e., by 22 April 2016), furnish to the Standards Commission a Donation Statement and Statutory Declaration [Section 24(2)(a) and Section 24(3)].  The Donation Statement must give details of all donations received in relation to the election with a value greater than €600 [Section 24(4)].  Donations made by the same person to the same candidate in relation to the election must be aggregated and treated as a single donation [Section 22(d)].  It should be noted that "in relation to the election" means donations received at any time before the issue of the writ [Section 24(2)(a)], and is not limited to the year in which the election took place.

1.7.2    The Donation Statement and Statutory Declaration must be furnished whether or not the candidate received a donation. If no donation was received, a "nil" return must be made to the Standards Commission. 

1.7.3    If a monetary donation in excess of €100 was received and the candidate was required to open a political donations account (see paragraph 1.4.1), or if the candidate already had a political donations account, the Donation Statement must be accompanied by a statement provided by the financial institution where the account is held (bank statement) [Section 23B(4)(a)]. If a new political donations account was opened the bank statement must specify the transactions (i.e. lodgements and withdrawals) that have taken place in relation to the account during the period beginning on the date of opening of the account and ending on polling day at the election. If an existing political donations account was used the bank statement must specify the transactions which have taken place on the account since 1 January 2015.  The Donation Statement must also be accompanied by a Certificate of Monetary Donations certifying that all monetary donations received after the account was opened were lodged to the account and all amounts debited from the account were used for political purposes [Section 23B(4)(b)].  The Certificate must be signed by the candidate and accompanied by a Statutory Declaration [Section 23B(6)].

1.7.4    Failure to send a Donation Statement and all accompanying documentation to the Standards Commission within 56 days of polling day is an offence [Section 25(1)(c)].

1.7.5    The Standards Commission Secretariat will contact all candidates before the election and will provide the following forms for completion where relevant:

·         Donation Statement

·         Certificate of Monetary Donation

·         Election Expenses Statement

·         Statutory Declaration

Assistance in completing the forms, including advice in relation to what is or is not a donation in any particular case, will also be available on request.

1.7.6    Copies of Donation Statements and Statutory Declarations furnished by unsuccessful candidates will be laid by the Standards Commission before both Houses of the Oireachtas and will be made available for public inspection at the offices of the Standards Commission [Section 24(7)(a) and Section 73].  Details of donations disclosed will be published on the website of the Standards Commission. 

1.7.7    Certificates of Monetary Donations/Statutory Declarations and statements from financial institutions are retained by the Standards Commission and are not put on public display or otherwise disclosed, unless ordered by a court to do so or disclosure is required in connection with an investigation held by the Standards Commission [Section 23B(8)].

 (b) Successful candidates

1.7.8    If a candidate is elected at the election, he/she will not be required to submit a Donation Statement, Statutory Declaration and Certificate of Monetary Donation within 56 days after polling day.  Instead, he/she will be required, as a member of Dáil Éireann, to furnish an annual Donation Statement, Statutory Declaration and Certificate of Monetary Donation to the Standards Commission by 31 January each year [Section 24(1)(a)]. Forms for this purpose will be provided to TDs by the Standards Commission in early January each year.

1.7.9    The Donation Statement/Statutory Declaration and accompanying documentation submitted by TDs must include donations with a value, or aggregate value from the same person, greater than €600 received during the previous calendar year.  The statement from the financial institution must specify the transactions that have taken place on the account during the previous calendar year.

(c) Tax Clearance Requirements

1.7.10  Pursuant to section 21 of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001, successful candidates must provide the following to the Standards Commission within nine months of their election:

·         a Tax Clearance Certificate (or Application Statement) issued not more than nine months either side of the election date, and

·         a Statutory Declaration, made not more than one month either side of the election date, to the effect that, to the best of their knowledge, their tax affairs are in order and that nothing prevents the issue of a Tax Clearance Certificate.


A Tax Clearance Certificate/Application Statement is issued by the Collector General, Office of the Revenue Commissioners.  More detailed instructions will be provided by the Standards Commission to the successful candidate after the election.

 

1.8      Claiming a reimbursement of election expenses

1.8.1    A qualified candidate is entitled to apply for a reimbursement of election expenses.  In order to qualify for a reimbursement, a candidate must either:

-           be elected [Section 21(1)(a)(i)]; or

-           if not elected, have exceeded one quarter the quota at any stage of the counting of the votes [Section 21(1)(a)(ii)].

1.8.2    The maximum amount which may be reimbursed is the lesser of €8,700 or the actual amount of the election expenses incurred on behalf of the candidate [Section 21(1)(b)(i) and Section 21(2)(b)(ii)

and Section 3(1)]

1.8.3    In calculating the amount of the reimbursement it should be noted that account may be taken of:

-           expenses incurred on behalf of the candidate and accounted for by the candidate's election agent [Section 21(1)(b)(ii)]; and

-           expenses incurred on behalf of the candidate by the candidate's political party and accounted for by the national agent [Section 32(4)].

1.8.4    In order to certify a reimbursement of a qualified candidate's election expenses, the Standards Commission must have received the following documentation [Section 21(1)(d)]:

-           completed election agent's Election Expenses Statement/Statutory Declaration;

-           completed national agent's Election Expenses Statement/Statutory Declaration;

-           supporting invoices, vouchers or receipts;

-           in the case of an unsuccessful candidate, the candidate's completed Donation Statement, Statutory Declaration and Certificate of Monetary Donations.

1.8.5    When the Standards Commission has received the relevant statutory documentation and is satisfied as to its correct completion, it will issue a reimbursement application to the candidate.  The Standards Commission will not issue any application for a reimbursement of election expenses until the correctly completed documentation has been received.

1.8.6    On receipt of the completed application, the Standards Commission will certify to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform the amount which should be reimbursed to the candidate.  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform pays the reimbursement of election expenses by electronic funds transfer. To facilitate this payment to the candidate’s bank account, the Department requires the candidate’s bank account and contact details. This information is not made available to the public.

1.8.7    The reimbursement is made to the candidate by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and is not regarded as a donation to the candidate [Section 21(1)(a) and Section 21(1)(c)].

1.8.8    A candidate is not required by the Act to pass on any part of the reimbursement to his/her political party.  If a reimbursement is passed on by a candidate to the candidate's political party, it is not required to be disclosed by the party as a donation unless the amount passed on exceeds by more than €1,500, the total amount spent on the candidate by the party at the election.

 

1.9      Offences and penalties applicable to candidates at the election

1.9.1    It is an offence for the candidate to fail to furnish to the election agent relevant details of expenses incurred before the appointment of an election agent, in sufficient time to enable the agent to carry out his/her duties [Section 31(8A)].

1.9.2    After an election agent has been appointed, it is an offence for a candidate to incur election expenses unless authorised to do so by his/her election agent or the national agent of his/her political party [Section 43(1)]. Failure to comply may result in a fine of €2,500 [Section 43(5)(a) & Section 6 of Fines Act 2010].

1.9.3    Failure to take the appropriate action in relation to a prohibited donation as specified in paragraph 1.5.1 (anonymous donations), paragraph 1.5.2 (cash donations), paragraph 1.5.4 (non-registered corporate donor), paragraph 1.5.6 (foreign donations) or paragraph 1.5.8 (donations in excess of the prescribed limit) may result in a fine of €2,500 [Section 25(1)(a & b) & 25(2)(a) & Section 6 of Fines Act 2010].

1.9.4    Failure to furnish to the Standards Commission a Donation Statement, Certificate of Monetary Donations or a statement from a financial institution, within the statutory deadline (22 April 2016, for unsuccessful candidates) may result in a fine of up to €2,500.  In addition, there can be an on-going fine of up to €500 per day for each day, after a conviction, on which the above statutory documentation is still outstanding [Section 25(1)(c); Section 25(2)(c) & Sections 6 and 8 of Fines Act 2010].

1.9.5    Knowingly furnishing to the Standards Commission a Donation Statement or Statutory Declaration, Certificate of Monetary Donations, or a statement of a financial institution, which is false or misleading may result in a fine of up to €25,394.76 and/or up to 3 years imprisonment [Section 25(1)(d) and Section 25(2)(b)].