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, or an Amendment: Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Candidate (Form ACTA), as applicable. 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, including an expenditure from your personal funds. A filing fee paid to a filing authority to qualify for a place on a ballot is a campaign expenditure that may not be made before filing a campaign treasurer appointment form with the proper filing authority.
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 $870 in political contributions or making more than $870 in political expenditures or an Amendment: Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Specific-Purpose Committee (Form ASTA), as applicable. Please refer to the Texas Ethics Commission’s instruction guides for more information.
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 City of Houston November 7, 2023 general election are as follows:
- January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021;
- January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2023; and
- (For run-off candidates) November 8, 2023 through December 31, 2023.
Candidate X participated in the November 5, 2019 general election and the run-off:
- November 1, 2019: Person A gave $5,000 to X (for 2019 general election)
- December 1, 2019: A gave $5,000 to X (for 2019 run-off election)
- January 1, 2020 – First Contribution cycle for the November 2023 general election begins for Candidate X
- A gives $5,000 to X
- January 1, 2022 – Second Contribution cycle begins for Candidate X
- A gives $5,000 to X
- Person A has maxed out contributions to Candidate X for November 2023 general election. Person A may contribute to Candidate X again if 1) Candidate X makes a 2023 run-off election or 2) when a new contribution cycle begins on January 1, 2024. 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 (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.
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.
Yes. The candidate must comply with the contribution limits in section 18-38(a) and file a statement of intent at the time of filing a campaign treasurer designation or, if a campaign treasurer designation is not required, prior to the making of any expenditure in connection with their campaign for City elective office. See Houston, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch.18, art. IV, § 18-38(b).
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.
The Texas Ethics Commission has created an instruction guide for completing campaign finance reports available at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/data/forms/coh/COH_ins.pdf for candidates/officeholders and at https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/data/forms/pacs/SPAC_ins.pdf for specific-purpose committees.
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