Campaign Finance Instructions

Campaign Finance Reports

Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin Statutes

Candidates must file campaign finance reports. Local candidates who do not have a primary do not need to file a pre-primary report.

Use form ETHCF-2L if there were transactions, and ETHCF-2NA if there were none. Local candidates don't need an Ethics ID Number.

ReportReporting PeriodFiling Deadline
January ContinuingJuly 1 – December 31, 2023January 16, 2024
Spring Pre-PrimaryJanuary 1 - February 5, 2024February 12, 2024
Spring Pre-Election (if primary is held)February 6 -March 18, 2024March 25, 2024
Spring Pre-Election (if no primary is held)January 1 - March 18, 2024March 25, 2024
July ContinuingMarch 19 - June 30, 2024, or January 1 - June 30, 2024July 15, 2024
January ContinuingJuly 1 – December 31, 2024January 15, 2025


Candidates are exempt from filing a finance report if:

  • They expect to not exceed $2,500 in total contributions, disbursements, loans, or other obligations for the calendar year.
  • They sign an exemption request on the campaign registration statement.

Exempt candidates don't file reports. They must keep records in case contributions or expenses exceed $2,500. An exempt candidate may use a personal account as the campaign depository.

Revoking Exemption

If a candidate exceeds $2,500, they must amend their campaign registration statement. They must file a campaign finance report beginning with the next regular report. This report covers all activity from the time of registration or the date of their last report.

In-Kind Contributions

In-kind contributions are free or below-cost goods, services or property. An example would be a campaign worker purchasing stamps for a mailing. If they are not reimbursed, the value of the stamps is an in-kind contribution.

Donating consultant services to a campaign committee would be an in-kind contribution. Providing food for a fundraiser at below-market rates would be an in-kind contribution.

Prohibited Contributions

Wisconsin law prohibits:

  • Anonymous contributions of more than $10
  • Contributions in cash of more than $100
  • Contributions given in the name of someone other than the contributor (laundered)
  • Contributions from cooperatives or corporations
  • Contributions that exceed limits set by law

Pre-Election Spending for Incumbents

Wisconsin Statute 11.33
Candidates must avoid using public funds for communications from December 1 through Election Day.

Continuing Reports

Wisconsin Statute 11.20
Candidates and committees may choose to stay registered after an election. They must file campaign finance reports until termination.

The January Continuing report covers activity from July 1 through December 31. The July Continuing report covers activity from January 1 through June 30.

Failure to File Reports

State Statute 11.20(13)

Fines may be imposed for not filing the reports required by law.


  • Itemize every contribution (date, amount, name, and address). This even applies to donations of $20 or less. 
  • Anonymous donations of up to $10 per donor may be accepted. They must be itemized. Anonymous contributions of more than $10 must be donated to charity.
  • Itemize every disbursement that exceeds $20.
  • Individuals donating over $200 must have an occupation listed.

Committee Registration

  • Political Action Committees and Independent Expenditure Committees register with the state. Conduits, and political parties register with the state.
  • A referendum committee does not need to register until it collects or spends over $10,000 in a calendar year.
  • A recall committee must register before circulating recall petitions.
  • A committee may claim exempt status if it does not collect or spend more than $2,000 in a calendar year.
  • An elected official may form a second committee to pursue another office.

Contribution Limits

Limits apply to the entire primary and election campaign. Local candidates can contribute unlimited personal funds. There is no limit on the amount of money a local candidate can spend on their campaign.

Campaign Finance Contribution Limits

Per campaign (2 to 4 years, depending on office)

OfficeDistrict Population (2020 Census)Individual or Candidate Committee LimitPolitical Action Committee Limit
MMSD School Board262,019$5,240$5,240
Ald. District 113,021$500$400
Ald. District 214,253$500$400
Ald. District 314,362$500$400
Ald. District 413,401$500$400
Ald. District 513,819$500$400
Ald. District 613,604$500$400
Ald. District 713,975$500$400
Ald. District 813,951$500$400
Ald. District 913,226$500$400
Ald. District 1013,657$500$400
Ald. District 1113,554$500$400
Ald. District 1213,647$500$400
Ald. District 1312,510$500$400
Ald. District 1410,321$500$400
Ald. District 1513,853$500$400
Ald. District 1613,863$500$400
Ald. District 1714,257$500$400
Ald. District 1814,282$500$400
Ald. District 1913,344$500$400
Ald. District 2013,028$500$400
Municipal Judge269,942$5,399$5,399


Wisconsin Statute 11.19
Candidates and committees may terminate after the election by filing a termination request. The termination report discloses the disposition of residual funds. If funds remain after all debts are paid, they may be disposed of using one or a combination of these options:

  • Returned to donors in an amount not exceeding their original contribution
  • Donated to a charitable organization or the Common School Fund
  • Any political purpose not prohibited by law
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