Adopted May 7, 2013; Amended February 14, 2017
The purpose of granting official recognition to Special Group Caucuses (SGCs) is to enable them to participate in the policy decisions and outreach programs of the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO).
Because caucuses, their committees and local chapters are a part of the state party, not independent organizations, the DPO By-laws gives the Party the responsibility to set policies for the activities of SGCs. The goal of these policies is to encourage caucuses to expand party membership and diversity while maintaining the principle that we win elections when we move forward together as one Democratic Party.
Every caucus officer should be familiar with the policies outlined in this document. This is a working document and we encourage feedback from caucus chairs.
Rules and Guidance
Every Special Group Caucus Bylaws approved under Article XV of the DPO By-laws must contain the following language:
“The (name) Caucus will abide by Article XV (Special Caucuses) of the Democratic Party of Oregon By-laws and any additional policies as established by the DPO Executive Committee.”
Once a caucus is established, the DPO Rules Committee or the DPO Administration Committee (Admin Committee) may require other changes in a caucus’ bylaws.
Budgeting and Planning:
Each SGC will prepare an annual budget of projected income — earned through voluntary dues and contributions — and projected expenditures. This budget will be submitted to the Admin Committee no later than 5 PM on the last day of the third quarter of the preceding year.
The DPO budget will include a base level of support for new and reactivated SGCs for the first year of operations. Ongoing SGCs are expected to support their own operations through fundraising.
Raising funds for the DPO is an important role of SGCs, and we encourage and appreciate SGC fundraising efforts.
But a word of warning: because SGCs are part of the DPO, any failure by SGCs to comply with federal or state campaign finance laws could subject the Party to costly fines, and reduce our ability to help Democrats win elections.
SGCs are governed by the same laws and regulations that govern the State Central Committee (SCC) and Admin Committee, and are charged by the DPO By-laws with complying with the regulations and financial requirements of the SCC. This also applies to committees, work groups, local caucuses, or any other aspects of SGCs.
Funds that are identified as donations made through the efforts of a caucus will be tracked for the purpose of making expenditures for activities that advance the interests of the responsible caucus and the DPO.
Members of SGCs are encouraged to participate in the donor programs and fundraising events of the DPO. SGCs may wish to track these contributions for the purpose of demonstrating how many SGC members are participating in DPO donor programs, but donations received through DPO donor programs and events are not “double- counted” as raised through the efforts of SGCs.
The DPO will identify one-time donations made through a SGC donation web page as made through the efforts of that caucus. Recurring donations will not be identified with the caucus.
All other donations accepted by a SGC on behalf of the DPO will be separately tracked by the SGC and reported to the DPO Compliance Officer upon delivery of the contribution to the DPO.
To meet federal campaign finance requirements, all such offline donations must be delivered to the DPO Compliance Officer no later than 6 days after the contribution is received.
SGC Treasurers are responsible for collecting the necessary reporting information from each donor and delivering it to the DPO Compliance Officer. The DPO Compliance Officer will provide training and reporting forms to each Caucus Treasurer.
All expenditures of any amount must be approved by the DPO.
Here’s the process: at least 30 days in advance of an expenditure, the SGC Treasurer will email a request for approval to the DPO Compliance Officer ([email protected]). The request for expenditure will be reviewed by the Admin Committee and then, on approval, be paid directly to the designated vendor or service provider.
The amount of an expenditure made on behalf of a caucus will be based on the amount of donations raised by a caucus and the requirements of the project.
SGC expenditures may be suspended if the Admin Committee determines that the Party’s income may not meet operational expenses.
SGCs that wish to do an event must submit a plan and event budget to the designated DPO staff 60 days before the event. The cost of any needed DPO support for the event will be added to the budget and reimbursed to the DPO from event proceeds.
The SGC and the DPO staff will create an event “memorandum of understanding” to clarify the roles and expectations of the SGC and DPO staff.
Contributing to Candidates:
Because federal election law recognizes contributions by any element of the DPO — including SGCs — as contributions by the DPO, SGCs may not directly contribute to a candidate’s election.
While SGCs may organize volunteers or promote “meet and greet” events to support a candidate, SGCs may not make in-kind expenditures that benefit a candidate without prior approval of the Admin Committee. In addition, an SGC may not make expenditures to host an event where the purpose is to raise funds for a candidate prior approval of both the Admin Committee and the candidate.
SGCs have an important role to play in Party communications — they help to amplify the Party’s message and make it more targeted and effective, and they also help to provide feedback to the Party from the communities they serve.
The goal of these communications policies is to ensure that the DPO and its SGCs are working hand-in-hand to promote the Party and help Democrats win. Of course, all SGC communications must be consistent with the goals of the DPO and SGC By-laws.
Speaking for the Party:
Anyone who speaks to the press or releases a public communication on any issue connected to the Party, and who is known to be working with the Party in any position, including volunteer positions, will be presumed (perhaps falsely) by the press and/or public to be speaking for the Party.
That’s why the DPO has specific policies about speaking and public communications that apply to all Party officers, staff, and volunteers, which must be followed at all times.
Under DPO By-laws the State Chair is the chief spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Oregon. The chair can and often does designate individuals to speak on behalf of the party, most frequently the Executive Director.
Before any other officer, staff member, or volunteer — including SGC spokespersons — may speak for the Democratic Party of Oregon, the communication must be approved by the DPO Chair or Executive Director.
This includes statements that are: made to the press or media; intended for public distribution; testimony before legislative bodies; for the purpose of influencing legislators, legislation or regulations; or for any similar purpose.
It also includes phone bank scripts — what you say in a phone bank is considered a public communication. Phone bank scripts must also be reviewed by the Compliance Officer.
To ensure compliance with federal campaign laws, SGCs must submit the following to designated DPO staff for approval 30 days prior to distribution or publication: flyers, bumper stickers, buttons or “swag,” posters, or any other printed material.
Because of the fast-moving and informal nature of the web and social media, it would be difficult and cumbersome for SGCs to get approval for each individual online communication. So instead, we ask that SGC officers take responsibility for ensuring that all content sharing and posting on any website or social media site follows messaging guidelines provided by DPO staff.
These messaging guidelines, which will be provided in a separate document, outline the basic story that the DPO is trying to tell to the public every day. We ask you to help us tell that story, with the knowledge and expectation that you will tell it in a way that is unique to your community.
SGC officers are responsible for removing any posts or shares that do not follow the messaging guidelines or are not consistent with DPO or SGC By-laws.
In the case of a problem, the Executive Director may ask DPO staff to delete or edit a posting and/or suspend editing privileges to a web site or social media account and immediately notify the caucus chair so that an appropriate remedy can be found.
We recognize the value of SGCs having a web presence to coordinate activities, attract new members, and raise funds. Because SGCs are part of the Party, it’s important to have that presence hosted by the DPO so that it can be maintained by DPO staff and understood by the public as being recognized by the Party.
The DPO staff will create web pages for each SGC that allow the SGC to receive single (not recurring) contributions by credit card, add and edit content, sign up new members, communicate with SGC officers, post events, and blog.
As of this date — February 2013 — some SGCs have existing independent web sites. In those cases, once the DPO has provided web pages for the SGC that meets the present requirements of the existing web site, the independent site will be deactivated. In the meantime, designated DPO staff will have administrative privileges for all independent SGC web sites and no new independent SGC site will be created.
Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media:
DPO staff will have administrative privileges for all SGC Facebook fan pages, and privileges to create and edit content shall be granted to the SGC. Ditto for Google + organization pages or any other social media sites where account control is based on privileges linked to personal accounts.
DPO staff will have the username and password for any Twitter account associated with the SGC, and for any other social media sites where account control is based on a single username and password.
All online advertising must go through the expenditure process (as outlined in “Expenditures,” above), and the content of all advertising must be reviewed and approved by the Executive Director and the Compliance Director.
Designated DPO staff will grant VAN and “My Campaign” access to a Caucus officer and alternate after they have received training and signed an agreement regarding proper and authorized use of these tools.
SGCs may endorse a Democratic candidate in an open contested primary or a candidate in a non-partisan primary. SGCs may not oppose an incumbent Democrat in a primary, or endorse a candidate who is not a Democrat in any partisan election.
A decision to endorse must be done in a deliberate manner. The endorsement process must be made clear to SGC members and all candidates considered for endorsement. That process should be detailed in SGC bylaws or by a rule adopted by the SGC’s executive committee. All eligible members of the SGC must be notified according to the requirements of their bylaws, and given an opportunity to participate.
The SGC endorsement process may begin earlier, but shall not conclude until after the filing deadline for all candidates in that election cycle. If there is interest in endorsing a particular candidate, all Democratic candidates in that primary must be made aware that the SGC may endorse, and all Democratic candidates in that primary must have the opportunity to participate. If the SGC intends to interview a particular candidate, other Democratic candidates in that contest must have that opportunity as well.
An endorsed candidate is entitled to list that endorsement in campaign materials. Any SGC endorsement must state that it is an endorsement of the SGC and not the SCC or Democratic Party of Oregon as a whole, and the endorsement must require any candidate using it to make this clear. The endorsement must also require that endorsed candidate may only use SGC endorsements in a primary election.
SGCs may not endorse in a general election unless the DPO Admin Committee determines special circumstances exists that would benefit the Party as a whole.
However, SGCs may organize volunteers or events at any time to encourage support of Democratic candidates they have previously endorsed.
SGCs may support approved Legislative Action Items in the DPO Platform and advocate for issues approved by the SCC in the form of Resolutions. Any contact with a legislative body or public official is considered a public communication and must be approved by the Chair or the Executive Director (see “Speaking for the Party,” above).
SGCs may meet at any free public venue. All meetings and events shall be submitted to the DPO web site calendar as soon as they are scheduled (go to www.dpo.org/events/calendar and click the “Add+” button). DPO staff will train and assist SGCs to increase membership and participation in meetings.
SGCs may not schedule meetings at DPO headquarters without prior approval from DPO Staff ([email protected]).
SGCs are encouraged to use conference calls and online communication tools to promote participation by statewide membership.