Campaign money pouring in for 2014, closely regulated

The year 2014 is expected to be a largely contested election year in Arkansas, especially with the governor's seat up for grabs.

We're still about year and a half away from that highly anticipated Election Day, but millions of dollars are flooding in and spent on the race for governor.

Here is a breakdown of the regulations enforced if all of the contributions aren't used.

It's a race of five candidates from the two major parties, all with various backgrounds but the same mission: to raise the cash for Arkansas' top seat.

In the gubernatorial race are Republicans, Asa Hutchinson, Curtis Coleman, and Debra Hobbs. On the Democrat side are Mike Ross and Bill Halter.

"What we tell candidates is 'If you have an opponent, that they're going to be looking your reports over,'" said Graham Sloan with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

Sloan is director of the AEC, where he and his staff oversee each and every contribution for in-state races, and then some.

"A candidate who ends the election with money left over can keep an amount equal to the annual salary of the office sought, as carryover funds. They can keep those for 10 years," he continued.

That rule, however, only stands for the election's winner. None of the candidates can pocket cash, but the ones that lose have a decision to make about any leftovers.

"A candidate is required to get rid of surplus funds within 30 days after the election, and there's five ways to get rid of surplus funds," Graham said.


The five distribution types include:

-Giving to the state's general revenue fund

-A 501c3 charity

-Refund to contributors

-Give to the political party's caucus

-Donate to a city that has at least 500 residents

"We don't enforce them criminally, we enforce them civilly or administratively, but the law does prohibit a candidate from taking campaign funds as personal income," Graham said.

Fines for violations range from $50 to $2,000, while any criminal activity is a misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Any person is limited to contributing no more than $2,000 per candidate for each election.