Campaign Finance Reports Electronic Filing System
Frequently Asked Questions
- The City of Houston is a filing authority under Title 15 of the Election Code, and is responsible for accepting documents under Title 15 only from:
- Candidates for and officeholders of elective offices of the City;
- Specific-purpose political committees supporting or opposing candidates for and officeholders of elective offices of the City; and
- Specific-purpose political committees supporting or opposing a measure to be submitted at an election ordered by the City.
If you plan to run for a City of Houston public office, you must file by mail or hand-delivery an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Candidate (Form CTA) with the City Secretary. The City Secretary’s Office is located at 900 Bagby, Ground Level, Houston, Texas 77002.
You must file this form when you become a candidate even if you do not intend to accept campaign contributions or make campaign expenditures. You must file this form before you may accept a campaign contribution or make or authorize a campaign expenditure (e.g., filing fee), including an expenditure from your personal funds.
A Specific-Purpose Political Committee (SPAC) supporting or opposing a City of Houston candidate or measure must file an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Specific-Purpose Committee (Form STA) with the City Secretary’s Office before accepting more than $500 in political contributions or making more than $500 in political expenditures.
Please refer to Article VI, Chapter 18 of the Code of Ordinances.
Please visit https://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/ to view information and links relating to this matter.
To obtain a copy of the Affidavit for Candidate or Officeholder: Electronic Filing Exemption, go to: https://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/city_affidavit_exemption_coh.pdf.
To obtain a copy of the Affidavit for Committee: Electronic Filing Exemption, go to: https://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/city_affidavit_exemption_spac.pdf.
Download and save the appropriate affidavit to your computer. Hand-deliver the affidavit along with your campaign finance report to the Office of the City Secretary.
Please go to https://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/ to download the Password Request Form (Form PASS) and save it to your computer. You must obtain a user name and password prior to filing campaign finance reports electronically. If you are the Campaign Treasurer for more than one Specific-Purpose Committee (“SPAC”), complete a separate Password Request Form for each SPAC. When completed, mail or hand-deliver the Password Request Form to the Office of the City Secretary. (See instructions included with form.)
Please go to https://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/ to download the Correction Affidavit (Form COR-C/OH or Form COR-PAC). A Correction Affidavit must accompany all subsequent filings to the original filing for a filing period. If you need to attach any part of the Data Collection Tool in conjunction with the Correction Affidavit, start with a clean copy of the Data Collection Tool, complete only those forms or schedules necessary, and mark the “Not Applicable” box at the top of those forms or schedules that you do not wish to include with the Correction Affidavit.
Yes. A person may contribute up to $5,000 to any single candidate per contribution cycle. A political committee may contribute up to $10,000 to any single candidate per contribution cycle. See Houston, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch.18, art. IV, § 18-38.
- Section 18-31(c) of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances defines the City's contribution cycles as follows:
- General Election
- The period beginning January 1 following a general municipal election and ending on December 31 of the next year; and
- The period beginning January 1 after the end of the previous period and ending on December 31 following a general municipal election.
- Run-off Election
- The period beginning the day after a general municipal election and ending on December 31 following a run-off election.
- Special Election to Fill a Vacancy
- The period beginning when a person takes affirmative action to become a candidate as defined in section 18-2 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances and ending on December 31 of the year in which the special election is held; and
- If a candidate is in a run-off election, an additional period beginning the day after the special election and ending on December 31 of the year in which the special election run-off is held.
The contribution cycles leading up to the November 5, 2019 election are as follows:
- March 5, 2016 (or April 5, 2016 as applicable) through December 31, 2017;
- January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019; and
- (For run-off candidates) November 6, 2019 through December 31, 2019.
City of Houston Ordinance No. 2016-528 retroactively applied the changes to the contribution limits in Section 18-38(a) to March 5, 2016, or April 5, 2016, for a candidate who participated in the December 12, 2015 run-off election. Any contributions made before March 5, 2016, or April 5, 2016, as applicable, are governed by the provisions of Section 18-38(a) of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas, that were in effect on the date the contribution was made.
Candidate X participated in the 11/3/15 general election and the 12/12/15 run-off
- November 1, 2015: Person A gave $5,000 to X (for 2015 general election)
- December 1, 2015: A gave $5,000 to X (for 2015 run-off election)
- January 1, 2016: A gave $5,000 to X (for general election in 2019)
- April 5, 2016 – First Contribution cycle for the November 2019 general election begins for Candidate X since he participated in 2015 run-off
- A gives $5,000 to X
- January 1, 2018 – Second Contribution cycle begins for Candidate X
- A gives $5,000 to X
- Person A has maxed out contributions to Candidate X for November 2019 general election. Person A may contribute to Candidate X again if 1) Candidate X makes a 2019 run-off election or 2) when a new contribution cycle begins on January 1, 2020. Person A may still donate to other candidates.
The reporting periods and deadlines for campaign finance reports are set by state law and can be found on the Texas Ethics Commission website here (choose the uniform filing schedule). Reports are due by 5:00 p.m. on the respective due date. See Tex. Elec. Code § 254.037.
Generally, corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and labor organizations are prohibited by state law from making political contributions in connection with Texas and local elections. See Tex. Elec. Code § 253.094. For more information, please contact the Texas Ethics Commission at 512-463-5800 or visit their website at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/index.html.
Yes. The City of Houston Code of Ordinances defines “candidate” to include a specific-purpose political committee to the extent the candidate elects to receive contributions or make expenditures through it. See Houston, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch.18, art. I, § 18-2.
For questions regarding how to report campaign finance information, please contact the Texas Ethics Commission at 512-463-5800 or visit their website at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/index.html.
For additional information, please refer to the following guides:
- Title 15 of the Texas Election Code
- Texas Ethics Commission Rules
- Article IV, Chapter 18 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances (Limitations on Solicitations and Contributions)
- Campaign Finance Guide for Candidates and Officeholders Who File With Local Filing Authorities
- Campaign Finance Guide for Political Committees