All candidates for the chief administrative office (mayor), any candidates who spend more than $500, and candidates for other offices who pay at least $100 a month are required to file campaign financial disclosure reports. Members of a municipal or regional planning commission must also file a campaign disclosure report. Civil penalties of $25 per day are authorized for late filings. Penalties up to the greater of $10,000 or 15 percent of the amount in controversy may be levied for filings more than 35 days late. It is a Class E felony for a multi-candidate political campaign committee with a prior assessment record to intentionally fail to file a required campaign financial report. Further, the treasurer of such a committee may be personally liable for any penalty levied by the Registry of Election Finance. T.C.A. §§ 2-10-101–118.
Contributions to political campaigns for municipal candidates are limited to:
- $1,000 from any person (including corporations and other organizations);
- $5,000 from a multi-candidate political campaign committee;
- $20,000 from the candidate;
- $20,000 from a political party; and
- $75,000 from multi-candidate political campaign committees.
The Registry of Election Finance may impose a maximum penalty of $10,000 or 115 percent of the amount of all contributions made or accepted in excess of these limits, whichever is greater. T.C.A. §§ 2-10-301–310.
Each candidate for local public office must prepare a report of contributions that includes the receipt date of each contribution and a political campaign committee’s statement indicating the date of each expenditure. T.C.A. §§ 2-10-105, 107.
Candidates are prohibited from converting leftover campaign funds to personal use. The funds must be returned to contributors, put in the volunteer public education trust fund, or transferred to another political campaign fund, a political party, a charitable or civic organization, educational institution, or an organization described in 26 U.S.C. 170(c). T.C.A. § 2-10-114.
Conflict of interest disclosure reports by any candidate or appointee to a local public office are required under T.C.A. §§ 8-50-501, et seq. Detailed financial information is required, including the names of corporations or organizations in which the official or one immediate family member has an investment of more than $10,000 or 5 percent of the total capital. This must be filed no later than 30 days after the last day legally allowed for qualifying as a candidate. As long as an elected official holds office, he or she must file an amended statement with the Tennessee Ethics Commission or inform that office in writing that an amended statement is not necessary because nothing has changed. The amended statement must be filed no later than January 31 of each year. T.C.A. § 8-50-504.