June 17, 1996
Subject: Whether There are Statutory Limits on Political Party Executive Committee Contributions to Candidates in Three Special Elections to be Conducted in June 1996.
Written by: Gerard R. Gerhard
Requested by: The Honorable Gex Williams, State Senator
Syllabus: With the elimination of statutory limitations on contributions by political party executive committees to certain candidates during an election cycle, no statutory limitations are present, until other provisions become applicable, to restrict political party executive committee contributions to candidates in special elections to be conducted in June 1996.
OAGs cited: 96-19
Statutes construed: KRS 121.015(2); 121.150(25); 121.150(25)(a); 121.150(25)(b)
Constitutional sections construed: � 55
OPINION OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
The following question, in substance, has been presented:
Given amendments of KRS 121.150(25), during the 1996 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, are there any statutory limitations on the amount that a political party executive committee may contribute to candidates in special elections to be held in June 1996?
Answer in Brief
In our view the answer is no. When three special elections for certain offices are conducted, in June 1996, they will occur during a statutorily defined election cycle for which certain limitations are imposed upon political party executive committee campaign contributions. Statutory references to an election cycle, however, are eliminated, effective July 15, 1996, pursuant to House Bill 695, passed during the 1996 Regular Session of the General Assembly. It follows that campaign contribution limitations imposed in relation to an election cycle will have no bearing upon contributions in connection with special elections conducted prior to the end of what would have been an election cycle. Discussion follows.
Prior to its amendment during the 1996 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, KRS 121.150(25) imposed limitations on aggregate contributions candidates for certain elections could receive from permanent committees, commonly known as political action committees, in any one election cycle.
KRS 121.150(25) was amended during the 1996 Regular Session of the General Assembly by Senate Bill 55, so that contribution limitations, previously applicable to permanent committees, were extended to executive committees of any county, district, state or federal political party. By virtue of an emergency declaration in the measure, Senate Bill 55 became effective when it was approved by the Governor, on April 12, 1996.
Senate Bill 55 (1996 Reg. Sess.)
Senate Bill 55, in part pertinent here, amended KRS 121.150(25), retaining the original language of that provision as subsection (a), and adding a new subsection (b), so that KRS 121.150(25), as of this writing, provides:
(a) A candidate for elective public office, except slates of candidates for governor and Lieutenant Governor, shall not accept contributions from permanent committees which, in the aggregate, exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of the total contributions accepted by the candidate in any one (1) election cycle or five thousand dollars ($5,000) in any one (1) election cycle, whichever is the greater amount. For the purposes of this subsection, election cycle means the period between regular elections for the office a candidate seeks. The percentage of the total contributions or dollar amounts of contributions accepted by a candidate in an election cycle that is accepted from permanent committees shall be calculated as of the regular election day that ends the election cycle. Funds in a candidate's campaign account which are carried forward from one (1) election cycle to another shall not be considered in calculating the acceptable percentage or dollar amount of contributions which may be accepted from permanent committees for the election cycle for which the funds are carried forward. A candidate may, without penalty, contribute funds to his campaign account not later than twenty (20) days following the election cycle so as not to exceed the permitted percentage or dollar amount of contributions which may be accepted from permanent committees or the candidate may, not later than twenty (20) days after the end of the election cycle, refund any excess permanent committee contributions on a pro rata basis to the permanent committees whose contributions are accepted after the aggregate limit has been reached.
(b) The provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection regarding the receipt of aggregate contributions from permanent committees in any one (1) election shall also apply separately to the receipt of aggregate contributions from executive committees of any county, district, state, or federal political party in any one (1) election.
It will be noticed that subsection (b) (above) indicates that references in subsection (a), to contributions from permanent committees in any one (1) election, shall apply to contributions of specified executive committees. Subsection (a), however, does not contain such references. Instead, subsection (a) contains references to election cycle, rather than to election. It must be presumed that the legislature, not having amended subsection (a) to delete references therein to election cycle, was aware that such language would remain until House Bill 695 became effective July 15, 1996. In Barker v. Stearns Coal & Lumber Co., 287 Ky. 340, 152 S.W.2d 953, 959-960 (1941), the Court observed:
Courts are authorized to insert words or phrases into an act of legislation by construction only when it is necessary in order to rescue the enactment from absurdity or to effectuate a purpose made obvious by other portions. [Citations omitted.]
Following such reasoning here, we believe that, for the period from April 12, 1996, through July 14, 1996, the word cycle must be inserted by construction following the word election, in subsection (b) of KRS 121.150(25).
KRS 121.150(25) was also amended during the 1996 Regular Session of the General Assembly by House Bill 695. That measure carried no declaration of emergency or delayed effective date. Accordingly, in keeping with Section 55 of the Constitution of Kentucky, House Bill 695 will become effective on July 15, 1996. See OAG 96-19.
House Bill 695 (1996 Reg. Sess.)
House Bill 695, in relation to what is now KRS 121.150(25)(a), provides that certain candidates shall not accept, from permanent committees, contributions which, in the aggregate, exceed fifty percent of the total contributions accepted by the candidate in any one election, or $10,000 in any one election, whichever is the greater amount. The measure also deletes references, in what is now KRS 121.150(a), to election cycle. The effect of this deletion is that, after House Bill 695 becomes effective, on July 15, 1996, contribution limitations imposed in KRS 121.150 will apply to each election (see KRS 121.015(2)), rather than to an election cycle.
After House Bill 695 becomes effective, KRS 121.150(25)(b) (see above) will be read according to its literal terms, since after that time, subsection (a) will contain references to election, rather than election cycle. Subsection (b) will then be consistent with subsection (a).
There are no statutory limitations on the amount that a political party executive committee may contribute to candidates in special elections to be held in June 1996.
The views expressed in this opinion are limited only to their relation to special elections to be held in June 1996.
A. B. CHANDLER III
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL