MoCo Public Election Fund (PEF) Goes Live July 4th!
By Sharon L. Cohen
The Maryland Board of Elections (MDBOE), Division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance and the Montgomery County Department of Finance (MoCoDF) have decided that July 4, 2017 is the first date that the new MoCo Public Election Fund (PEF) program will begin accepting submissions of “qualifying contribution” receipts from candidates seeking to qualify for the new program. For any MoCo PEF candidate who submits and qualifies, matching funds are to be paid out 10 business days after the submission. That means by late July or early August, the first PEF matching funds may be dispersed.
Originally, the earliest date the program would start was June 26th, but the MDBOE and MoCoDF decided to established two monthly filing dates for PEF candidates to submit receipts to qualify and for matching which will be the first and third Tuesday of every month, after the June 26th date. Because the first Tuesday of July is the 4th — a national holiday — the MDBOE hopes candidates will actually wait until July 18th (the third Tuesday) to submit (assuming any PEF candidates actually plan to submit receipts this early).
Also, the MDBOE and MoCoDF just issued an updated “Summary Guide” on the County’s new Public Election Fund (PEF). The extensive guide discusses the history of the program and provides a detailed walkthrough of the new program. The new “Summary Guide” should answer many questions about the new program. All candidates and prospective candidates should review the new guide. The MDBOE hopes to post the “Summary Guide” on their website soon, in the meantime here it is attached
The MDBOE and MoCoFD plan to hold a webinar on the new PEF program on July 11th from 10:00 am to noon (details to follow). The MoCo Council appropriated $11 million for the PEF.
MoCo’s PEF program was enacted into law in 2014, passed unanimously and since that time much work to implement the program has been underway. Matching PEF funds are available for local county candidates for the County Council or County Executive if such candidates meet the three-part test to qualify (be in a contested election, raise the required number of individual contributions from MoCo residents for the office sought as well as raise the required aggregate amount for the office sought). For the 2018 election — the first for which PEF funds are available — a PEF candidate could have begun collecting qualifying contributions on January 1, 2015, but the first candidates to file to qualify for PEF actually started in the fall of 2016.
As of June 9th (most recent date checked) there are a total of 17 PEF candidate for MoCo office. Four PEF candidates are sitting County Council members, with more sitting County Council members likely to seek PEF. At this time, only two filed PEF candidates are Republicans.