State Contribution Limits and Voluntary Expenditure Ceilings
Candidates running for a state office and committees that make contributions to state candidates are limited in the amount of contributions they may accept from a single source. The contribution limits are different depending on the state office, the committee and the contributor.
Contributions from affiliated entities are aggregated for purposes of the limits. And if a candidate for state office is currently a state officeholder, contributions to the candidate’s future election must be cumulated with contributions to his or her officeholder account for purposes of the limits.
- State committees (including political parties and PACs) may receive contributions in excess of the limits identified below as long as the contributions are not used to make contributions to state candidates.
- Contributions to ballot measure committees (including those controlled by a candidate) are not limited.
- Contributions raised for a legal defense fund are not subject to limits, but the amount raised must be reasonably necessary to cover attorney's fees and other legal costs related to the proceeding for which the fund is created.
- Contribution limits do not apply to a committee established by a state officeholder who is the target of a recall to oppose the qualification of the recall measure, and if the recall petition qualifies, the recall election.
The charts below show the current limits per contributor for state offices and committees. 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. To view a printable version of the charts below, click here.
In addition to state laws, contribution limits are also imposed in many California cities, counties and districts. Local ordinances are posted here. All information should be verified with the elections agency within the local jurisdiction.
2017-2018 Contribution Limits to State Candidates Per Election
|Candidate or Officeholder||Person (individual, business entity, committee/PAC)||Small Contributor Committee (see definition below)||Political Party|
|Senate and Assembly||$4,400||$8,800||No Limit|
|Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Supt. of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization||$7,300||$14,600||No Limit|
2017-2018 Contribution Limits to Other State Committees Per Calendar Year
|Committee||Person (individual, business entity, committee/PAC)|
|Committee (PAC), other than a Political Party, that Contributes to State Candidates||$7,300|
|Political Party Account for State Candidates||$36,500|
|Small Contributor Committee||$200|
|Committee Account NOT for State Candidates (Ballot Measure, PAC, Political Party)||No Limit*|
*State committees (including political parties and PACs) may receive contributions in excess of the limits identified above as long as the contributions are NOT used for state candidate contributions. (Regulation 18534)
2017-2018 Contribution Limits to State Officeholder Committees Per Calendar Year
|Committee||Any Source (Person, Small Contributor Committee or Political Party)||Aggregate from all Sources|
|Senate and Assembly||$3,600||$60,600|
|Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Supt. of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization||$6,000||$121,100|
Contributions from State Candidates and Officeholders
A state candidate or state officeholder may not contribute more than $4,400 to a committee controlled by another state candidate or state officeholder (including a state or local election committee or officeholder account). This limit applies on a per election basis and includes, in the aggregate, contributions made from the candidate's or officeholder's personal funds and from campaign funds. This limit does not apply to a committee controlled by a state candidate to oppose his or her recall, a candidate-controlled ballot measure committee or a candidate's legal defense fund.
Voluntary Expenditure Ceilings
State candidates may voluntarily accept expenditure limits for elections. They must declare on the Candidate Intention Statement (Form 501) whether they accept the voluntary expenditure ceiling established for each election. Candidates who accept the ceiling are designated in either the state ballot pamphlet (statewide candidates) or the voter information portion of the sample ballot (Senate and Assembly candidates) and may purchase space in the sample ballot to place a 250-word statement. The voluntary expenditure ceilings are effective for elections held between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. To view a printable version of the chart below, click here.
2017-2018 Voluntary Expenditure Ceilings for State Candidates
|Office||Primary/Special Election||General/Special Runoff Election|
|Board of Equalization||$1,459,000||$2,188,000|
|Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Controller, Secretary of State, Supt. of Public Instruction, Treasurer||$5,835,000||$8,753,000|
|CalPERS/CalSTRS (Section 85400)||N/A||N/A|
Explanation of Terms used in the Contribution Limits Charts
Person – An individual, proprietorship, firm, partnership, joint venture, syndicate, business trust, company, corporation, limited liability company, association, committee and any other organization or group of persons acting in concert.
Small Contributor Committee – Any committee that meets all of the following: 1) has been in existence for at least six months; 2) receives contributions from 100 or more persons; 3) no one person has contributed more than $200 per calendar year; and 4) the committee makes contributions to five or more candidates.
Political Party Committee - The state central committee or county central committee of an organization that meets the requirements for recognition as a political party outlined in Section 5100 of the Elections Code.
Statewide Except the Governor – The office of Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Controller, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction and member of the State Board of Equalization.