M.G.L. Chapter 55, Section 1 defines an independent expenditure as "an expenditure made or liability incurred by an individual, group, association, corporation, labor union, political committee or other entity as payment for goods or services to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate; provided, however, that the expenditure is made or incurred without cooperation or consultation with any candidate or a nonelected political committee organized on behalf of the candidate or an agent of the candidate and is not made or incurred in concert with or at the request or suggestion of the candidate, a nonelected political committee organized on behalf of the candidate or agent of the candidate."
Independent expenditure reports are required under M.G.L. c. 55, s. 18A and may be referred to as "18A reports". These reports are filed by individuals, groups, associations, corporations, labor unions, political committees and any other entities making independent expenditures of more than $250 in a calendar year (aggregated) to support or oppose one or more candidates. Independent expenditure reports are filed with OCPF unless the candidates supported or opposed are seeking office in a city or town election; in that event, the report is filed with the local election official in the city or town where the election is taking place.
Generally, independent expenditure reports are due within seven (7) business days of the date the expenditure or expenditures were utilized. However, if the independent expenditure was made after the 10th day, but more than 24 hours, before the date of any election, a preliminary report must be filed within 24 hours of making the expenditure and a follow-up report is then filed within 7 business days thereafter.
Preliminary reports must include the same information as a regular independent expenditure report, with the exception of the amount of each expenditure and the total amount spent, since that information may not be known at the time the report is due. The amount of the expenditure(s), and the total amount spent, are provided in the follow-up report.