What is OCPF?

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance is the independent state agency that administers Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 55, the campaign finance law, and Chapter 55C, the public financing program for candidates for statewide office. The office receives reports filed by hundreds of candidates and committees, reviews them to ensure proper disclosure and legal compliance, and, where appropriate, conducts legal reviews of campaign finance activity. OCPF is headed by a director who is appointed by a bi-partisan commission that is made up of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the chairs of the Democratic and Republican State Committees and the dean of a law school who is appointed by the Governor. The Director serves a six-year term and is subject to reappointment. The current director, Michael J. Sullivan, was appointed to his fourth term in 2012.

Where is OCPF located?

OCPF is located in Room 411 of the John W. McCormack State Office Building at One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108. The McCormack Building is located beside the State House on Beacon Hill. (Driving Directions).

Which candidates and committees report to OCPF?

Candidates and committees that file with OCPF include:

  • Candidates for the six statewide offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Secretary and Auditor).
  • Candidates for the Governor’s Council.
  • Candidates for county office (District Attorney, Sheriff, County Commissioner, Clerk of Court, Register of Deeds and Register of Probate) and other regional offices such as Barnstable Assembly of Delegates and county charter commissions.
  • Candidates for the Legislature (Senator and Representative).
  • Candidates for mayor and city council in the five most populous cities: Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Springfield and Worcester.
  • Candidates for mayor in the cities with populations of 40,000 to 100,000.
  • Political action committees (including people’s committees, a form of PAC).
  • State and local party committees.
  • Committees supporting or opposing questions put to voters on the state ballot.

Where do other candidates and committees file their reports?

With the exception of the mayoral and councilor candidates noted above, all candidates for office in cities and towns file with their respective local election officials (city or town clerk or election commission). Also filing locally are municipal ballot question committees and municipal PACs.

What is the reporting schedule for candidates and committees?

The schedule for filing disclosure reports varies according to the type of filer. For a breakdown of the deadlines, please visit the Filing Schedules page of our website.

Are candidates for town meeting member required to file campaign finance reports?

No. Those running for representative town meeting member are not considered candidates for the purposes of the campaign finance law and therefore are not required to file campaign finance reports.

Are candidates for local (ward, town, city) party committee required to file campaign finance reports?

No. Those seeking party committee office are also not considered candidates under the campaign finance law.

What about federal candidates and committees? Do they file reports with OCPF?

No. Candidates for Congress (House of Representatives) file their reports directly with the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov) in Washington. Candidates for the U.S. Senate file their reports with the Secretary of the Senate, who provides copies to the FEC. The FEC maintains a searchable online database containing reports from all federal candidates and committees.

What is the definition of a political committee?

Generally speaking, it is a committee that raises money for a specific political purpose, such as the election of a single candidate, the election or defeat of one or more candidates (in the case of a PAC), the promotion of a particular party (state and local party committees) or the passage or defeat of a ballot question. Before it can raise funds for such a purpose, a committee must be properly organized with OCPF or, if applicable, a local election official.

What about organizations that are not political committees?

In general, organizations that are not political committees may spend money for political purposes, such as contributions to candidates or PACs or expenditures to support or oppose ballot questions, without having to organize as a political committee. That assumes that the group is spending its general funds (such as dues) and has not raised the funds for a political purpose, such as giving to candidates. Raising funds for a political purpose would make the organization a political committee that would have to organize as described in the previous question. Contributions and expenditures by organizations are subject to disclosure by the recipient candidate or committee or the organization, or both. In addition, with the exception of making independent expenditures, business corporations, and organizations that receive corporate funds, professional corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and partnerships are prohibited from making contributions or expenditures to support or oppose candidates, parties or PACs.

Where can I find a list of all candidates and committees registered with OCPF?

OCPF maintains an online database of all candidates and committees organized with the office. To access the latest information, which is updated daily, please visit the Registered Filers List maintained on the OCPF Electronic Filing System (EFS) website. If you wish to download a registered filers listing, please visit the Data section of the OCPF Main Page.

How do I find out who is running for a particular office?

OCPF’s database includes all those who have run for each specific office and have not dissolved their committee, including those who may not have run in the most recent election. For an official list of candidates in a specific election, contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division (www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm) at (617) 727-2828 or (800) 462-VOTE or, in the case of municipal candidates, the applicable local election official.

Is a candidate required to open a bank account for his or her campaign activities?

Candidates for statewide or county office, Governor’s Council, and mayor or councilor in Boston, Cambridge, Lowell, Springfield and Worcester must conduct their campaign finance activity through a depository bank account, with their financial institutions filing regular reports with OCPF. All other candidates are legally required to segregate their campaign funds from their personal funds. While a bank account is not explicitly required by the campaign finance law, candidates and committees are advised to open a checking account to conduct campaign activity.

How can I obtain a tax identification number for my committee in order to open a bank account?

Candidates and committees should consult the Internal Revenue Service (www.irs.gov) for information on how to obtain a federal tax identification number. In addition, you should contact the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (www.dor.state.ma.us) for information on any state tax requirements that may be applicable. For more information, please see OCPF Memorandum M-89-02.

Does OCPF conduct seminars for candidates and committees?

Yes. The office conducts seminars on various campaign finance issues, including but not limited to:

  • Filing and disclosure requirements for all types of candidates, PACs and other committees;
  • General information for new candidates;
  • The application of the campaign finance law to political activity by public employees, including the restriction on employees' fundraising and on fundraising in government buildings;
  • Restrictions on the use of public resources to influence voters in ballot question elections on the local level, especially Proposition 2½ overrides; and
  • Electronic Filing.

OCPF also provides scheduled one-on-one training sessions, such as software training or informational meetings for new candidates. To determine the schedule of any upcoming seminars, please visit the Seminar Calendar on the Education and Multimedia Resources page. If you are interested in scheduling a seminar or training session, please contact OCPF by phone at (617) 979-8300 or e-mail us at ocpf@cpf.state.ma.us.

This page is intended to provide short answers to common questions put to this office and is not intended to serve as a definitive description of the application of the campaign finance law to all situations. It is the responsibility of all those participating in political campaign financing in Massachusetts to become knowledgeable with the provisions of the law and regulations. If you are unsure of any answer or are seeking further information, please contact OCPF by phone at: (617) 979-8300 or (800) 462-OCPF or by e-mail.

  • Attleborough
  • Brockton
  • Chicopee
  • Everett
  • Fall River
  • Fitchburg
  • Haverhill
  • Lawrence
  • Leominster
  • Lynn
  • Malden
  • Medford
  • Methuen
  • New Bedford
  • Newton
  • Peabody
  • Pittsfield
  • Quincy
  • Revere
  • Salem
  • Somerville
  • Taunton
  • Waltham
  • Westfield
  • Weymouth