Contribution Limits: City and County Candidates

Assembly Bill 571 (Stats. 2019, Ch. 556, AB 571 Mullin), effective January 1, 2021, applies a default campaign contribution limit to city and county candidates when the city or county has not already enacted a contribution limit. Along with the new campaign contribution limit, there are other related provisions that formerly applied only to state level candidates that will now apply to city and county candidates. Please note that none of the provisions of AB 571 discussed on this page apply to candidates in cities or counties for which the city or county has enacted campaign contribution limits.

Who Do These Rules Apply to?

The new provisions set forth by AB 571 only apply to city and county candidates when the city or county has not already enacted a contribution limit on such candidates. Below are some examples of city and county candidates:

  • City Attorney
  • City Council Members
  • County Board of Supervisors 
  • County Superintendent of Schools

There are many candidates who are not covered by AB 571 such as judicial candidates, school board candidates, and county central committee candidates. 

What Are the Campaign Contribution Limits?

The chart below shows the current limits per contributor, per election, for city and county candidates in cities and counties that have not enacted campaign contribution limits. The primary, general, special, and special run-off elections are considered separate elections. Contribution limits to candidates apply to each election. Contribution limits to officeholders and other committees apply on a calendar year basis. 

2021-2022 Contribution Limits for City and County Candidates in Cities and Counties That Have Not Enacted Limits
Person (individual, business entity, committee/PAC) Small Contributor Committee Political Party
$4,900 $4,900 $4,900

Does My City or County Have Limits?

The FPPC maintains copies of campaign contribution limit ordinances that are sent to us voluntarily by city and county clerks. The table below lists the campaign contribution limit ordinances the FPPC has received as of May 2022. Candidates can search for their jurisdiction to see if campaign contribution limits apply. However, we strongly encourage candidates to reach out to their local filing officer to see if contribution limits apply and if there any recent changes to their local ordinance. If you are aware of a local campaign contribution limit ordinance that is not listed in the table below, please email a copy of the ordinance to advice@fppc.ca.gov and we will post it to the website. 

Key Provisions & Requirements

The information below contains the key provisions and requirements city and county candidates in jurisdictions that have not enacted campaign contribution limits are subject to under AB 571. 

Running for Reelection to the Same Office?

Prior to the adoption of AB 571, local candidates and committees could use the same bank account and candidate controlled committee for each election by redesignating the committee and amending their Form 410 (Statement of Organization). However, effective January 1, 2021, city and county candidates in jurisdictions that have not enacted campaign contribution limits can no longer redesignate their candidate controlled committees. A candidate must establish a separate controlled committee and campaign bank account when running for reelection. 

If a candidate is seeking to transfer campaign funds from one candidate controlled committee to another for the same office, the candidate may carry over non-surplus campaign funds without attribution or without using the "last in, first out" (LIFO) or "first in, first out" (FIFO) accounting method. The funds must be in the new campaign bank account before they can be used for the reelection campaign. 

Current Officeholder Running for a Different Office?

City and county candidates in jurisdictions that have not enacted campaign contribution limits who are running for a different office than the one currently held must also establish a separate controlled committee and campaign bank account for each specific office. Additionally, these candidates may transfer any remaining committee funds from the prior campaign bank account to the new committee bank account. These contributions transferred must be attributed and transferrred using the "last in, first out" (LIFO) or "first in, first out" (FIFO) accounting method and shall not exceeed the applicable contribution limit per contributor. 

LIFO means that the amount to be transferred will be attributed to the most recent contributors to the transferring committee. FIFO means that the transferred funds will be attributed to the earliest contributors. Once the transferring committee has chosen LIFO or FIFO, it may not change the method of attribution. 

Termination Requirements

Prior to the adoption of AB 571, local candidate controlled committees had no time limit for terminating their committee. However, a candidate in a city or county that has not enacted campaign contribution limits, must terminate a candidate controlled committee within 24 months of their election to that office. Candidates who are elected are required to terminate any controlled committees formed for local elections, held concurrent with, or prior to, their election to that office. The committee must also close the current bank account by the time the committee is terminated. 

Prohibitions

Listed below are some prohibitions city and county candidates in jurisdictions that have not enacted campaign contribution limits are subject to under AB 571. 
 
  • A candidate may not make a contribution over the $4,900 limit to another candidate in jursidictions subject to the default state contribution limit, with limited exceptions related to recall elections, legal defense funds, and candidate controlled ballot measure committees. 
  • Candidates may not personally loan to a candidate's campaign an amount for which the outstanding balance exceeds $100,000. A candidate may not charge interest on any such loan the candidate made to the candidate's campaign. 
  • Officeholder committees are not permitted for city and county candidates subject to the $4,900 default state contribution limit. 

Resources

Statutory and Regulatory Authority

Government Code sections 85301, 85303, 85304.5, 85305, 85306, 85307, 85315, 85316, 85317, 85318, and 85702.5. 

Regulations 18404.1, 18421.4, 18421.8, 18521, 18521.5, 18523.1, 18530.2, 18530.8, 18531.2, 18531.5, 18531.61, 18531.63, 18531.64, 18535, 18536, 18537.1, 18545, and 18951.

You should not rely on this webpage alone to ensure compliance with the Act. If you have any questions, you can Ask the FPPC for Advice.