§3-8-1a. Definitions

Published: 2015

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WVC 3 - 8 - 1 A

§3-8-1a. Definitions.

     As used in this article, the following terms have the

following definitions:

     (1) "Ballot issue" means a constitutional amendment, special

levy, bond issue, local option referendum, municipal charter or

revision, an increase or decrease of corporate limits or any other

question that is placed before the voters for a binding decision.

     (2) "Billboard Advertisement" means a commercially available

outdoor advertisement, sign or similar display regularly available

for lease or rental to advertise a person, place or product.

     (3) "Broadcast, cable or satellite communication" means a

communication that is publicly distributed by a television station,

radio station, cable television system or satellite system.

     (4) "Candidate" means an individual who:

     (A) Has filed a certificate of announcement under section

seven, article five of this chapter or a municipal charter;

     (B) Has filed a declaration of candidacy under section

twenty-three, article five of this chapter;

     (C) Has been named to fill a vacancy on a ballot; or

     (D) Has declared a write-in candidacy or otherwise publicly

declared his or her intention to seek nomination or election for

any state, district, county or municipal office or party office to

be filled at any primary, general or special election.

     (5) "Candidate's committee" means a political committee

established with the approval of or in cooperation with a candidate or a prospective candidate to explore the possibilities of seeking

a particular office or to support or aid his or her nomination or

election to an office in an election cycle. If a candidate directs

or influences the activities of more than one active committee in

a current campaign, those committees shall be considered one

committee for the purpose of contribution limits.

     (6) "Clearly identified" means that the name, nickname,

photograph, drawing or other depiction of the candidate appears or

the identity of the candidate is otherwise apparent through an

unambiguous reference, such as "the Governor", "your Senator" or

"the incumbent" or through an unambiguous reference to his or her

status as a candidate, such as "the Democratic candidate for

Governor" or "the Republican candidate for Supreme Court of


     (7) "Contribution" means a gift, subscription, loan,

assessment, payment for services, dues, advance, donation, pledge,

contract, agreement, forbearance or promise of money or other

tangible thing of value, whether conditional or legally

enforceable, or a transfer of money or other tangible thing of

value to a person, made for the purpose of influencing the

nomination, election or defeat of a candidate. An offer or tender

of a contribution is not a contribution if expressly and

unconditionally rejected or returned. A contribution does not

include volunteer personal services provided without compensation:

Provided, That a nonmonetary contribution is to be considered at fair market value for reporting requirements and contribution


     (8) "Corporate political action committee" means a political

action committee that is a separate segregated fund of a

corporation that may only accept contributions from its restricted

group as outlined by the rules of the State Election Commission.

     (9) "Direct costs of purchasing, producing or disseminating

electioneering communications" means:

     (A) Costs charged by a vendor, including, but not limited to,

studio rental time, compensation of staff and employees, costs of

video or audio recording media and talent, material and printing

costs and postage; or

     (B) The cost of air time on broadcast, cable or satellite

radio and television stations, the costs of disseminating printed

materials, studio time, use of facilities and the charges for a

broker to purchase air time.

     (10) "Disclosure date" means either of the following:

     (A) The first date during any calendar year on which any

electioneering communication is disseminated after the person

paying for the communication has spent a total of $5,000 or more

for the direct costs of purchasing, producing or disseminating

electioneering communications; or

     (B) Any other date during that calendar year after any

previous disclosure date on which the person has made additional

expenditures totaling $5,000 or more for the direct costs of purchasing, producing or disseminating electioneering


     (11) "Election" means any primary, general or special election

conducted under the provisions of this code or under the charter of

any municipality at which the voters nominate or elect candidates

for public office. For purposes of this article, each primary,

general, special or local election constitutes a separate election.

This definition is not intended to modify or abrogate the

definition of the term "nomination" as used in this article.

     (12) (A) "Electioneering communication" means any paid

communication made by broadcast, cable or satellite signal, mass

mailing, telephone bank, billboard advertisement or published in

any newspaper, magazine or other periodical that:

     (i) Refers to a clearly identified candidate for Governor,

Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor,

Commissioner of Agriculture, Supreme Court of Appeals or the


     (ii) Is publicly disseminated within:

     (I) Thirty days before a primary election at which the

nomination for office sought by the candidate is to be determined;


     (II) Sixty days before a general or special election at which

the office sought by the candidate is to be filled; and

     (iii) Is targeted to the relevant electorate: Provided, That

for purposes of the general election of 2008 the amendments to this article are effective October 1, 2008.

     (B) "Electioneering communication" does not include:

     (i) A news story, commentary or editorial disseminated through

the facilities of any broadcast, cable or satellite television or

radio station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication

not owned or controlled by a political party, political committee

or candidate: Provided, That a news story disseminated through a

medium owned or controlled by a political party, political

committee or candidate is nevertheless exempt if the news is:

     (I) A bona fide news account communicated in a publication of

general circulation or through a licensed broadcasting facility;


     (II) Is part of a general pattern of campaign-related news

that gives reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates in

the circulation, viewing or listening area;

     (ii) Activity by a candidate committee, party executive

committee or caucus committee, or a political action committee that

is required to be reported to the State Election Commission or the

Secretary of State as an expenditure pursuant to section five of

this article or the rules of the State Election Commission or the

Secretary of State promulgated pursuant to such provision:

Provided, That independent expenditures by a party executive

committee or caucus committee or a political action committee

required to be reported pursuant to subsection (b), section two of

this article are not exempt from the reporting requirements of this section;

     (iii) A candidate debate or forum conducted pursuant to rules

adopted by the State Election Commission or the Secretary of State

or a communication promoting that debate or forum made by or on

behalf of its sponsor;

     (iv) A communication paid for by any organization operating

under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

     (v) A communication made while the Legislature is in session

which, incidental to promoting or opposing a specific piece of

legislation pending before the Legislature, urges the audience to

communicate with a member or members of the Legislature concerning

that piece of legislation;

     (vi) A statement or depiction by a membership organization, in

existence prior to the date on which the individual named or

depicted became a candidate, made in a newsletter or other

communication distributed only to bona fide members of that


     (vii) A communication made solely for the purpose of

attracting public attention to a product or service offered for

sale by a candidate or by a business owned or operated by a

candidate which does not mention an election, the office sought by

the candidate or his or her status as a candidate; or

     (viii) A communication, such as a voter's guide, which refers

to all of the candidates for one or more offices, which contains no

appearance of endorsement for or opposition to the nomination or election of any candidate and which is intended as nonpartisan

public education focused on issues and voting history.

     (13) "Expressly advocating" means any communication that:

     (A) Uses phrases such as "vote for the Governor", "re-elect

your Senator", "support the Democratic nominee for Supreme Court",

"cast your ballot for the Republican challenger for House of

Delegates", "Smith for House", "Bob Smith in '04", "vote Pro-Life"

or "vote Pro-Choice" accompanied by a listing of clearly identified

candidates described as Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, "vote against Old

Hickory", "defeat" accompanied by a picture of one or more

candidates, "reject the incumbent";

     (B) Communications of campaign slogans or individual words,

that can have no other reasonable meaning than to urge the election

or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidates, such as

posters, bumper stickers, advertisements, etc., which say "Smith's

the One", "Jones '06", "Baker", etc; or

     (C) Is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than

as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.

     (14) "Financial agent" means any individual acting for and by

himself or herself, or any two or more individuals acting together

or cooperating in a financial way to aid or take part in the

nomination or election of any candidate for public office, or to

aid or promote the success or defeat of any political party at any


     (15) "Fund-raising event" means an event such as a dinner, reception, testimonial, cocktail party, auction or similar affair

through which contributions are solicited or received by such means

as the purchase of a ticket, payment of an attendance fee or by the

purchase of goods or services.

     (16) "Independent expenditure" means an expenditure by a


     (A) Expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly

identified candidate; and

     (B) That is not made in concert or cooperation with or at the

request or suggestion of such candidate, his or her agents, the

candidate's authorized political committee or a political party

committee or its agents.

     Supporting or opposing the election of a clearly identified

candidate includes supporting or opposing the candidates of a

political party. An expenditure which does not meet the criteria

for an independent expenditure is considered a contribution.

     (17) "Mass mailing" means a mailing by United States mail,

facsimile or electronic mail of more than five hundred pieces of

mail matter of an identical or substantially similar nature within

any thirty-day period. For purposes of this subdivision,

"substantially similar" includes communications that contain

substantially the same template or language, but vary in

nonmaterial respects such as communications customized by the

recipient's name, occupation or geographic location.

     (18) "Membership organization" means a group that grants bona fide rights and privileges, such as the right to vote, to elect

officers or directors and the ability to hold office, to its

members and which uses a majority of its membership dues for

purposes other than political purposes. "Membership organization"

does not include organizations that grant membership upon receiving

a contribution.

     (19) "Name" means the full first name, middle name or initial,

if any, and full legal last name of an individual and the full name

of any association, corporation, committee or other organization of

individuals, making the identity of any person who makes a

contribution apparent by unambiguous reference.

     (20) "Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership,

committee, association and any other organization or group of


     (21) "Political action committee" means a committee organized

by one or more persons for the purpose of supporting or opposing

the nomination or election of one or more candidates. The

following are types of political action committees:

     (A) A corporate political action committee, as that term is

defined by subdivision (8) of this section;

     (B) A membership organization, as that term is defined by

subdivision(18) of this section;

     (C) An unaffiliated political action committee, as that term

is defined by subdivision (29) of this section.

     (22) "Political committee" means any candidate committee, political action committee or political party committee.

     (23) "Political party" means a political party as that term is

defined by section eight, article one of this chapter or any

committee established, financed, maintained or controlled by the

party, including any subsidiary, branch or local unit thereof and

including national or regional affiliates of the party.

     (24) "Political party committee" means a committee established

by a political party or political party caucus for the purposes of

engaging in the influencing of the election, nomination or defeat

of a candidate in any election.

     (25) "Political purposes" means supporting or opposing the

nomination, election or defeat of one or more candidates or the

passage or defeat of a ballot issue, supporting the retirement of

the debt of a candidate or political committee or the

administration or activities of an established political party or

an organization which has declared itself a political party and

determining the advisability of becoming a candidate under the

precandidacy financing provisions of this chapter.

     (26) "Targeted to the relevant electorate" means a

communication which refers to a clearly identified candidate for

statewide office or the Legislature and which can be received by

one hundred forty thousand or more individuals in the state in the

case of a candidacy for statewide office, eight thousand two

hundred twenty or more individuals in the district in the case of

a candidacy for the State Senate and two thousand four hundred ten or more individuals in the district in the case of a candidacy for

the House of Delegates.

     (27) "Telephone bank" means telephone calls that are targeted

to the relevant electorate, other than telephone calls made by

volunteer workers, regardless of whether paid professionals

designed the telephone bank system, developed calling instructions

or trained volunteers.

     (28) "Two-year election cycle" means the twenty-four month

period that begins the day after a general election and ends on the

day of the subsequent general election.

     (29) "Unaffiliated political action committee" means a

political action committee that is not affiliated with a

corporation or a membership organization.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session

The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.