Intro to Campaign Exploratory Committees  

Author: Jama Brown

Like it or not, it takes money – big money – to be elected. And one of the first and possibly the most important steps to this process is forming a committee of “feelers”. What this exploratory committee does and is comprised of, is entirely up to the candidate. An exploratory committee is an organization established to help determine whether a potential candidate should run for an elected office, most often for federal positions ie: Congress, Senate and of course Presidential.

Members of this committee will most often be the candidate, the potential campaign manager, the chairman, treasurer, and communications director.

This committee allows the Candidate to do two things – raise a certain amount of funds to conduct polls, surveys, and canvassing and establish both name recognition and reception of that candidate to the sample surveyed.

These committees in Indiana need to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office using a CFA-1 form called: CANDIDATE’S STATEMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND (CFA-1) DESIGNATION OF PRINCIPAL COMMITTEE OR EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

This form establishes the committee and then also starts the financial filing process with the election board and names the committee’s treasurer. It also informs the committee that while the candidate and chairperson can be the same person, the treasurer must be a separate individual.

If a candidate’s committee accepts contributions or makes expenditures on an aggregate amount of more than two hundred dollars ($200) in a year, all funds of a committee must be segregated from, and may not be commingled with, the personal funds of officers, members or associates of the committee. (IC 3-9-2-9).

All campaign fundraising and contribution transactions are subject to filing with the Indiana Election Division and can do so electronically.

While these rules, regulations and forms seem daunting – the process is actually very straightforward and can be facilitated with help from the potential candidate’s district party chair.

Both county and district party chairpersons are an invaluable resource for potential candidates in both previous election experience and areas of platform structure that appeal to the local constituency.

For further information check out Indiana’s Secretary of State site for campaign finance filing information at:

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