Corporate Donations And the Register of Corporate Donors

 The Standards in Public Office Commission (the Commission) has published guidelines for the Register of Corporate Donors under section 4(6)(a) of the Electoral Act 1997, as amended and the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012.

The guidelines cover the main requirements of the legislation relating to:  The Register of Corporate Donors, Donations, and Offences and penalties.

The Guidelines are legally binding.

The Commission has established the register of corporate donors. A corporate donor that intends to make a political donation, the value of which exceeds €200.00, to a member of the Oireachtas, an MEP, a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad, or European election, or a candidate, a presidential election agent or a third party at a presidential election, political party or a third party, must apply to the Commission to be entered in the Register.

A corporate donor is defined as including:

  • A body corporate,
  • An unincorporated body of persons, or
  • A trust that makes a donation. A body corporate and any subsidiary thereof are deemed to be one person.

The donation must be for political purposes. Political purpose means any of the following:

  • 1.  to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the interests of a political party, a political group, a member of either House of the Oireachtas or a representative in the European Parliament, or
  • 2. to present, directly or indirectly, the policies or a particular policy of a political party, a political group, a member of either House of the Oireachtas, a representative in the European Parliament or a third party, or
  • 3. to present, directly or indirectly, the comments of a political party, a political group, a member of either House of the Oireachtas, a representative in the European Parliament or a third party with regard to the policy or policies of another political party, political group, member of either House of the Oireachtas, representative in the European Parliament, third party or candidate at an election or referendum or otherwise, or
  • 4. to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the interests of a third party in connection with the conduct or management of any campaign conducted with a view to promoting or procuring a particular outcome in relation to a policy or policies or functions of the Government or any public authority; or
  • 5. to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad, Presidential or European election or to solicit votes for or against a candidate or to present the policies or a particular policy of a candidate or the views of a candidate on any matter connected with the election or the comments of a candidate with regard to the policy or policies of a political party or a political group or of another candidate at the election or otherwise; or
  • 6.   otherwise to seek to influence the outcome of the election or a referendum or a campaign.

It is worth noting that the targeted recipient of corporate donations (i.e. a member of either House of the Oireachtas, a representative in the European Parliament or a third party) is prohibited from receiving donations that do not comply with the Act.

The guidelines are available on the Commission web site.

Offences
A company, trade union, building society or other society which fails to comply with the above requirements will be guilty of an offence under the Act.  The penalty for such an offence is, on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding €1,270.

Where an offence which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent of, or to be attributable to, any neglect on the part of any person being a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or a person purporting to act in any such capacity, that person as well as the body corporate will be deemed to be guilty of that offence.

The legislation prohibits donees from accepting donations which do not comply with the Act.

If you have any queries regarding the issue of Corporate donations or the Register of Corporate Donors please contact sipo@sipo.ie or ring 01 6395666.