Reaction to the news that Ken Dunkin finished the quarter with $1.2 million remaining in his campaign committee account has been varied, including some speculation that perhaps this reported figure is due to inaccurate accounting and his committee’s actual cash balance is significantly less.
In various situations the State Board of Elections can order an audit of a political committee, in some instances based on certain parameters that would warrant an audit and also they have the ability to randomly audit a limited number of committees. A few years ago I was involved in the record keeping of a committee that was randomly audited, it was a minor headache to assemble all the records for the auditor and of course we then had to pay a fee to an auditor but our records were in order so it wasn’t an overly burdensome process. It will be interesting to see if an audit is ordered in this situation.
Here is the relevant section of the election code:
5/9-13. Audits of political committees.
(a) The Board shall have the authority to order a political committee to conduct an audit of the financial records required to be maintained by the committee to ensure compliance with Sections 9-8.5 and 9-10. Audits ordered by the Board shall be conducted as provided in this Section and as provided by Board rule.
(b) The Board may order a political committee to conduct an audit of its financial records for any of the following reasons: (i) a discrepancy between the ending balance of a reporting period and the beginning balance of the next reporting period, (ii) failure to account for previously reported investments or loans, or (iii) a discrepancy between reporting contributions received by or expenditures made for a political committee that are reported by another political committee, except the Board shall not order an audit pursuant to this item (iii) unless there is a willful pattern of inaccurate reporting or there is a pattern of similar inaccurate reporting involving similar contributions by the same contributor. Prior to ordering an audit, the Board shall afford the political committee due notice and an opportunity for a closed preliminary hearing. A political committee shall hire an entity qualified to perform an audit; except, a political committee shall not hire a person that has contributed to the political committee during the previous 4 years.
(c) In each calendar year, the Board shall randomly order no more than 3% of registered political committees to conduct an audit. The Board shall establish a standard, scientific method of selecting the political committees that are to be audited so that every political committee has an equal mathematical chance of being selected.
(d) Upon receipt of notification from the Board ordering an audit, a political committee shall conduct an audit of the financial records required to be maintained by the committee to ensure compliance with the contribution limitations established in Section 9-8.5 and the reporting requirements established in Section 9-3 and Section 9-10 for a period of 2 years or the period since the committee was previously ordered to conduct an audit, whichever is shorter. The entity performing the audit shall review the amount of funds and investments maintained by the political committee and ensure the financial records accurately account for any contributions and expenditures made by the political committee. A certified copy of the audit shall be delivered to the Board within 60 calendar days after receipt of notice from the Board, unless the Board grants an extension to complete the audit. A political committee ordered to conduct an audit through the random selection process shall not be required to conduct another audit for a minimum of 5 years unless the Board has reason to believe the political committee is in violation of Section 9-3, 9-8.5, or 9-10.
(e) The Board shall not disclose the name of any political committee ordered to conduct an audit or any documents in possession of the Board related to an audit unless, after review of the audit findings, the Board has reason to believe the political committee is in violation of Section 9-3, 9-8.5, or 9-10 and the Board imposed a fine.
(f) Failure to deliver a certified audit in a timely manner is a business offense punishable by a fine of $250 per day that the audit is late, up to a maximum of $5,000.