The Importance of Candidate's Campaign Registration and Reporting Requirements
In Commonwealth v. Beck, 810 A.2d 736 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002), the Court explained that:
The importance of campaign reporting requirements is obvious: by preserving public access to the manner in which campaign money is received and spent, public confidence in the election process is maintained.
Candidate's willful refusal to comply with the registration and reporting requirements prevents verification of campaign receipts and expenses, thereby imperiling confidence in the election.
This is the mischief the Legislature sought to avoid.
Accordingly, we discern no abuse of discretion from the trial court's refusal to dismiss the charges as de minimis. Id. at 746.
An audit is the enforcement mechanism used to carry out that intent. Brunwasser v. Fields, 487 Pa. 283, 409 A.2d 352 (1979).
If a trial court determines upon reviewing the audit that any person has accepted contributions, incurred expenses, expended or disbursed money in contravention of the Election Code or otherwise violated any provision of the Election Code, the trial court shall certify its decision to the appropriate prosecutorial officer who shall institute criminal proceedings as deemed necessary.
If a candidate is found by any court of this Commonwealth in criminal proceedings to have willfully accepted contributions or made any expenditure in contravention of the Election Code, the candidate may be subject to such penalties as forfeiture of office.
However, "it can fairly be said that the legislature did not intend all violations - e.g., minor or trivial infractions - of the Election Code to be the basis for such harsh penalties as forfeiture of office or criminal prosecutions." Brunwasser, 487 Pa. at 291-92, 409 A.2d at 356.