by Jim Stirling
Research Fellow, John Locke Foundation
Republican congressman Dan Bishop has formally announced that he will not be running for congressional office again, instead choosing to run for the open North Carolina Attorney General seat in 2024. With Bishop moving from a federal back to a state-level race, does that mean he can move his congressional war chest of $1.4 million with him? Simply put, no.
Much like how the Federal Elections Commission does not allow candidates to transfer funds from their state-level funds to their federal committee, the inverse is also true. North Carolina General Statute only allows federal committees to transfer funds to a state-level campaign up to the maximum contribution limit, even if the same candidate owns both committees. North Carolina State Board of Elections General Council Lindsey Wakely confirmed this reading of North Carolina law via email.
This means Bishop could only shuffle a maximum of $6,400 in contributions to his Attorney General Race. He could distribute his federal-level funding to other committees. Political party committees are not subject to the $6,400 contribution limit and may receive an unlimited amount of funding from candidate committees. While these funds can not be earmarked for a specific candidate, a political party is allowed to contribute an unlimited amount of funds toward a candidate. The State Board of Elections also allows candidates to reimburse their federal committee’s donors and then resolicit them for funding for their state-level race.
This also applies to candidates that still have an active state-level committee as they too can only funds up to the $6,400 contribution limit and to their state-level war chest. This scenario could happen with Democratic congressman Jeff Jackson, who is rumored to be eyeing a potential run for the state Attorney General office. Unlike Bishop, Jackson has kept his state-level committee open, which recently reported having $39.5k cash on hand.