California is a national leader in promoting transparency and fairness in elections. The Political Reform Act requires candidates and committees to file campaign statements by specified deadlines disclosing contributions received and expenditures made. These documents are public and may be audited by the FPPC and FTB to ensure that voters are fully informed and improper practices prohibited. It is the responsibility of candidates and committees to understand the rules regulating their campaigns in California.
Who is Subject to the Act?
A candidate’s campaign committee, a general purpose committee, a political party committee, a slate mailer organization, a major donor, and a person or entity making independent expenditures on candidates or ballot measures in California are all types of committees subject to the campaign rules under the Act.
Who Qualifies as a Committee?
There are three ways in which a person or entity qualifies as a committee:
- Recipient Committee: Receives contributions of $2,000 or more per year for political purposes. This includes candidate controlled committees; committees primarily formed to support or oppose candidates or ballot measures; political party committees; and other general purpose committees (generally formed to support or oppose more than one candidate or ballot measure).
- Independent Expenditure Committee: Makes independent expenditures of $1,000 or more per year on California candidates or ballot measures. An expenditure is independent if it is not made in consultation, cooperation or coordination with the affected candidate or committee. These committees do not receive contributions.
- Major Donor Committee: Makes contributions of $10,000 or more per year to or at the request of California candidates or ballot measures. A business, individual, or multi-purpose organization (including a nonprofit organization) may qualify as a major donor committee. These committees do not receive contributions.
Do the Campaign Rules Apply to Both State and Local Elections?
Campaign finance and disclosure laws under the Act apply to both state and local candidates and committees. Many cities and counties have adopted local campaign ordinances that contain additional restrictions and requirements. Local candidates and committees should check with their local elections office or ethics agency to determine if there are additional local requirements and restrictions, such as contribution limits. For more information specific to local candidates and committees, see the FPPC’s campaign disclosure manual for local candidates and committees.
Where Can I Find More Information about Campaign Rules?
The FPPC offers valuable resources for candidates, political committees, treasurers, and filing officers. Click on one of the links below for an overview of key campaign rules and answers to some of the most common questions.
Nuts & Bolts of Campaign Rules
Additional Helpful Campaign Resources
- Campaign Activity FAQs
- Campaign Reporting Rules for Multipurpose Organizations (Including Nonprofits)
- Find your Committee ID Number
- Local Campaign Ordinances
- Recall Elections FAQs (Note: Updates to this FAQ will be presented at the November 2017 Commission meeting to reflect changes as a result of the Rios Opinion.)
- Campaign Disclosure Software Requirements
If you still have questions, you can Ask the FPPC for Advice.