Communications Sent Using Public Funds
In addition to any laws outside of the Act that may also apply, the Act restricts the use of public money for certain mass mailings that mention elected officials and the mass mailing of campaign materials. Additionally, any governmental agency engaged in campaign activity must report contributions and expenditures if the agency qualifies as a campaign committee.
Campaign Related Communications
A state or local government agency that pays for a campaign related communication may become a committee subject to reporting if the payments qualify as contributions or independent expenditures. Generally, a payment for a communication that does not expressly advocate for or against a candidate or measure or urge a result in an election, when taken as a whole and in context, does not constitute a contribution or independent expenditure. For example, a mailing that is sent to senior citizens to explain the purpose of an upcoming ballot measure that will provide a tax exemption for certain seniors is considered to be informational, not campaign material.
Communications that Feature an Elected Official
There are also very specific rules concerning the sending of a mass mailing at public expense that mentions elected officials. With some exceptions, the law prohibits the individual distribution of more than 200 copies of substantially similar items in a calendar month if the items include the name, office, photograph, or other reference of an elected official. Additional rules apply for certain mailings that mention an elected official sent within 60 days of the official’s election.
How to Request Advice
If you have questions about your obligations under the Act you can request advice directly from FPPC staff