527 political organizations
Candidate committees
Federal Political Action Committees (PACs)
Independent expenditures
Issue committees
Limited liability companies (LLCs)
Major contributors
Political committees
Political parties
Recall committees
Registered agents
School district candidates
Special district candidates
Small donor committees
Voluntary spending limits

Candidate Committees

Q1. What is a candidate committee?

A1.  Candidate committees accept contributions and make expenditures to further a candidate's bid for election or re-election to public office.  The candidate committee operates under the authority of the candidate.

The candidate may be the only member of the committee.

A candidate can only have one candidate committee.

Note:  a candidate for governor and a candidate for lieutenant governor who are running together can have only one committee between them.  They cannot maintain separate candidate committees.


Q2. Do candidate committees have to register?

A2.  Yes.  Candidate committees must be registered with the appropriate filing office

The committee must register before accepting contributions. No candidate can accept a contribution until he or she has a candidate committee registered.

Note: a candidate for governor and a candidate for lieutenant governor who are running together can have only one committee between them.  They cannot maintain separate candidate committees.


Q3. Where do I file?  What is the "appropriate filing office"? 

A3.  Municipal candidates file with the municipal clerk in their city or town.

County, state and federal candidates file with our office.

Candidates for federal offices should also contact the Federal Election Commission for information on federal filing requirements.


Q4. When do I file?

A4.  There is no set filing deadline that applies to all candidates. Filing deadlines depend on:

  1. When your campaign efforts officially begin under Campaign and Political Finance (CPF)/Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA) definitions.
  2. The method used to get your name on the ballot (nomination, petition, write-in).

Please refer to the election calendar (PDF) for important dates.


Q5. How do I register a candidate committee with your office?

A5.  You must register online.   

Before registering, make sure that you have:

  • A committee name and any acronyms that you will use.
  • A registered agent.
  • The registered agent's email address and phone number.
  • Physical and mailing addresses for the committee's principal place of business.
  • A description of your committee's purpose.  This information should be detailed, including candidates, ballot measure numbers, or policy positions that you will support or oppose.
  • Financial information, including the name of the bank where the committee has or will have an account.

To register:

  1. Go to the TRACER campaign finance disclosure website.
  2. Click on the "Committee Registration" button.
  3. Select "Candidate Committee", then click on "Next".
  4. Fill out the form.  When you are finished, click on "Submit".
  5. Print a copy of the form for your records.
  6. Click on "Finished" to complete your registration.
  7. Login information will be sent to the registered agent's email address.

If you need help using TRACER, see Learn to Use TRACER.


Q6. When do I officially become a candidate?

A6.  You become a candidate when you (1) publicly announce your candidacy and (2) subsequently receive a contribution or make an expenditure in support of your candidacy.


Q7. Do candidate committees have contribution limits?  

A7.  All candidate committees with the jurisdiction of State or Statewide, except RTD, have contribution limits.

RTD, county and municipal candidate committees are subject to all other contribution requirements and prohibitions.


Q8. Is there a limit on how much a candidate can contribute to their own campaign?

A8. Candidates who didn’t accept voluntary spending limits can contribute to their own campaigns without limitation.

Candidates who did accept voluntary spending limits do have limits.  Contributions from the candidate to their committe count toward the political party contribution limit (candidate contributions and political party contributions combined must not exceed the limit).


Q9. Can a candidate loan money to his/her candidate committee? 

A9.  Yes, candidates can loan money to their committee.  Loans are classified as contributions.


Q10. Can candidates accept contributions from limited liability companies?

A10.  See the Limited Liability Company FAQ.


Q11. Do I have to report loans made to my candidate committee?

A11. Yes.  Loans and the repayment of loans must be reported in TRACER.


Q12. Can a candidate forgive all or part of a loan to their committee?

A12.  Yes.  Any unpaid amount is considered a contribution. 

Candidates who accepted voluntary spending limits should make sure that the amount that is forgiven does not put the candidate and political party contribution totals (combined) over the contribution limit.


Q13. How do I report a loan that has been forgiven in whole or in part?

A13.  The loan amount will need to be amended and a new contribution entry for the forgiven amount is required.


Q14. Can a candidate committee get a loan from a financial institution?

A14.  Yes, if the loan meets the following criteria:

  • Must bear the usual and customary interest rate.
  • Assures repayment.  These types of loans cannot be forgiven.
  • Must be in writing.
  • Is subject to a due date or amortization schedule.


Q15. Do contribution limits apply to loans from a financial institution?

A15.  No.


Q16. Who is prohibited from contributing to a candidate committee?

A16.  The following cannot contribute to a candidate committee:

  • Corporations (profit or nonprofit)
  • Labor organizations and unions
  • Foreign citizens
  • Foreign governments
  • Forein corporations
  • Other candidate committees
  • Issue commitees


Q17. Are there penalties for failing to file disclosure reports, or for filing them late?

A17.  Our office and the municipal clerks are required to impose penalties for failure to file disclosure reports and for disclosure reports filed past the due date. The penalty is $50 per day, including weekends and holidays, for every day that a report remains outstanding.


Q18. Can penalties be waived or reduced?

A18.  Penalties may be reduced or waived at the discretion of our office or the municipal clerk.  The candidate or committe must show good cause.


Q19. How do we ask for a waiver or reduction of penalties?

A19.  If a state or county candidate, committee, or party receives a penalty, they may submit a written request explaining why a waiver or reduction in the penalty should be granted. Waiver requests must show good cause as to why the campaign finance report was not timely filed and why the assessed penalty should be reconsidered.

Our office must receive the request no later than 30 days after the date that notice of the imposed penalty was mailed.

Waiver requests can be submitted in the TRACER system (in the "overview" tab), or mailed to our office.

Mail requests to:

Colorado Secretary of State
Attn: Elections Division
1700 Broadway, Ste. 200
Denver, CO 80290

Requests for a waiver or reduction of campaign finance penalties will be considered in accordance with Campaign and Political Finance Rule 18. You will be notified of the outcome in writing within 60 days. An invoice will accompany the letter if a penalty remains in effect.

If you don't agree with the determination made by the Secretary of State, you can appeal the decision by filing a complaint with our office. The complaint will be forwarded to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Administrative Courts for review. The last resort for appealing a penalty is the Court of Appeals.

Municipal clerks have the discretion to grant penalty waivers for municipal candidates and committees. Requests should be directed to the appropriate municipal clerk.

Please review Article XXVIII Section 9 and Section 10 for more detailed information about the complaint and appeals process.


Q20. Are there penalties for exceeding contribution limits or violating voluntary spending limits?

A20.  Civil penalties of at least double and up to five times the amount contributed, received, or spent in violation of contribution or voluntary spending limits may be imposed by an  administrative law judge if a violation of limits has occurred.


Q21. Can a candidate committee accept contributions from other candidate committees?

A21.  No.  Candidate committees cannot contribute to or accept contributions from other candidate committees.


Q22. Can candidate committees share expenses?

A22.  Yes.  Candidate committees can share expenses for the cost of brochures, offices, office equipment, etc. so long as each committee pays for its proportionate cost of the expense. If one committee pays for the entire cost initially and the other committee reimburses the paying committee within 30 days, then the purchase and reimbursement is not considered a contribution by one candidate committee to the other.


Q23. Can a candidate make a contribution to a (Federal) 527 political organization from his/her candidate committee?

A23. No. Candidate committees are formed to support the nomination or election of a candidate to a state or local office; 527 organizations are allowed to support issues as well as candidates. They are not limited to solely supporting the candidate from whom they received the contribution. Therefore, this type of contribution is not allowed. Any such contributions made by a candidate committee to a 527 organization must be returned to the candidate committee.


Q24. Can a candidate committee contribute unexpended campaign contributions to (Federal) 527 political organizations for political issue education?

A24.  No. 527 organizations may support or oppose a wide variety of issues. Political issue education (as referenced in section1-45-106(1)(b)(II)) is issue education that is personal to the candidate. In other words, political issue education is to be limited to specifically educating the elected official on legislative issues directly affecting their constituents or the elected official educating his/her constituents about the elected official or legislative issues directly affecting those constituents.


Q25. How do I amend my committee registration?

A25.  Any changes to your committee registration information, including address, phone, email, registered agent, or purpose, must be reported within five days of the change.

Amendments can be filed using the online campaign finance filing system, TRACER, or by completing and submitting a paper Committee Registration Amendment form (PDF). Municipal candidates must use the paper form.


Q26. How do I terminate my candidate committee?

A26.  Committees can be terminated by filing a termination report in TRACER that reflects a zero balance.  

Candidates continue to be considered candidates for office as long as they have an open candidate committee. Disclosure is required until a committee is terminated.

Penalties of $50 per day (including weekends and holidays) will be imposed for reports not filed on time, even if your committee has no activity during the reporting period.

A committee which has a loan or outstanding debt cannot be terminated until the loan or debt has been paid and the committee has reached a zero balance.

Inactive candidate committees must terminate after nine years. Inactive candidates are those who are not seeking access to the ballot in an upcoming election.


Q27. How long do we keep our records?

A27.  Committees/candidates must keep their records for 180 days following any general election in which the committee or party received contributions.

If a complaint is filed, the records must remain available until the matter is resolved.


Q28. Can governor and lieutenant governor candidates maintain separate candidate committees?

A28.  No. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor who are running together may have only one candidate committee between them.  The contribution and spending limits for governor apply to the committee.


Q29. I am currently holding an office, but I haven’t decided if I want to run in the next election.  Should I maintain a candidate committee?

A29.  Yes. You are still considered a candidate while your candidate committee is open. Contribution limits will still apply, and Rule 12.1 requires that you file an amended committee registration within 10 days of any change. 


Q30. Are conduit contributions prohibited? 

A30.  Yes. Contributions delivered to a candidate committee by a third party are prohibited.


Q31. What is a registered agent?

A31.  A registered agent is the person to whom all correspondence about the committee will be addressed.  He or she is also responsible for maintaining committee records and filing reports on time.  The registered agent must be a natural person. A candidate can serve as registered agent for his or her candidate committee.

The registered agent acts as a treasurer, keeping track of all contributions and expenditures.

In addition to the candidate or the registered agent, the committee may also appoint a designated filing agent to be responsible for the timely filing of Contribution and Expenditure reports.


Q32. Do we have to have a registered agent?

A32.  Yes.  All committees registered with our office must have a registered agent.


Q33. How do we change our registered agent?

A33.  A committee can file an amended registration to change the registered agent. 

A registered agent can also resign. To resign, a registered agent must file a resignation letter with the appropriate filing officer via certified mail.

There must be a registered agent associated with each committee at all times.

Q34. Do we have to set up a bank account specifically for the committee?

A34.  All contributions received by a committee must be deposited in a financial institution in a separate account with a title that includes the committee name.

You can choose which bank you will use for your committee account.  Please consult your bank and IRS regulations concerning account requirements, which may vary depending on the institution.


Q35. What statutes and rules apply to candidate committees?

A35.  The following provisions apply to candidate committees: