SIPO warns election hopefuls on crowdfunding campaigns


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

SIPO warns election hopefuls on crowdfunding campaigns SIPO warns election hopefuls on crowdfunding campaigns

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Local election candidates hoping to win seats on Galway City and County Councils next year are turning to GoFundMe pages to finance their campaigns.

And while crowd funding online is a relatively easy way to generate cash to buy posters and fund newspaper and social media advertisements, election hopefuls need to be careful they don’t fall foul of SIPO rules.

The Standards in Public Office Commission has confirmed to Bradley Bytes that there are specific obligations on candidates in the European Parliament elections next year, and in the Local Government Elections.

SIPO will publish guidelines specifically relating to the 2024 Local and European Elections in advance of the campaigns and each candidate will receive a copy of these guidelines.

But using past guidelines as an indication of future guidelines, candidates will need to keep a record of all donations they receive.

“Candidates should know the name, description, citizenship, and postal address of the donor, date on which donation was received, whether the donation was requested (and if so name and address of person who requested it) and whether a receipt issued in respect of the donation,” according to SIPO guidelines in last year’s Dáil by-election in Dublin.

SIPO advised that candidates must ensure that any donations accepted are not ‘prohibited’.

There is a list outlining what constitutes a prohibited donation, but, for example, “acceptance of an anonymous donation exceeding a value of €100 is prohibited”, according to the legislation.

Cash donations of more than €200 are prohibited and so too are donations from people outside of Ireland, which is of particular interest for crowd funding campaigns.

The maximum value of donations a candidate can receive from one person is €1,000 in one calendar year.

“The Commission advises that, if a candidate is using a crowd funding service, they should make it clear to donors that the acceptance of prohibited donations is not permitted.

“The candidate may seek to work with the service to put in place measures to support this,” according to SIPO.

Of course, regulations are only as good as the organisation that enforces them.

And SIPO has been shown to be a largely toothless organisation – if Galway candidates want to circumvent rules on donations online or otherwise, they’ll find a way.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the November 17 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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