Expenditure Ceilings Now Lifted for Candidates in City Council District 3, School Board District 3, School Board District 5, and School Board District 7

Date Posted: October 6th, 2020 @ 3:54 PM
Last Updated: October 7th, 2020 @ 9:27 AM
image of election year 2020

This message confirms that independent expenditures totaling more than $27,000 now have been made by an independent committee in the races for City Council District 3, Oakland School Board District 3, School Board District 5, and School Board District 7.

Per the Oakland Campaign Reform Act, this means that the local campaign expenditure ceilings no longer apply to any candidate seeking election to the following offices:

  • School Board District 3
  • School Board District 5
  • School Board District 7
  • City Council District 3

Expenditure ceilings for all other races remain in effect.

Candidates for City Council District 3 and School Board Districts 3, 5, and 7 are therefore able to spend money over the expenditure ceiling (see our webpage for a list of the expenditure ceilings for each City office).

Expenditure ceilings are not to be confused with contribution limits which continue as follows:

1) Candidates who signed OCRA Form 301 accepting the expenditure ceiling for the 2020 election may continue to raise money at $900 per individual contributor/$1,700 per qualified broad-based political committee – and the overall campaign expenditure ceiling no longer applies

2) Candidates who did not accept expenditure ceilings at the start of the campaign can still only raise $200 per individual contributor/$400 per broad-based political committee - and the expenditure ceiling, which never applied to the candidate, still doesn’t apply


The Oakland Campaign Reform Act imposes contribution limits and allows contributions at a higher limit for candidates that agree to a voluntary overall campaign expenditure ceiling. The purpose of this provision is to “limit overall expenditures in campaigns, thereby reducing the pressure on candidates to raise large campaign war chests for defensive purposes, beyond the amount necessary to communicate reasonably with voters.” (O.M.C. Section 3.12.030)

Oakland does not impose limits on independent expenditures, which are currently protected under federal law. The Oakland Campaign Reform Act does, however, provide for the lifting of the voluntary expenditure ceiling once independent expenditures reach the threshold for a particular race. For District City Council or School Board races, if an independent expenditure committee (or any committee that makes an independent expenditure) spends more than $27,000 in the aggregate on a District City Council or School Board election, the applicable expenditure ceiling shall no longer be binding on any candidate running for the same office. (O.M.C. Section 3.12.220.)

Again, independent expenditures totaling over $27,000 were made in the races for Oakland School Board District 3, School Board District 5, School Board District 7, and City Council District 3; therefore, the expenditure ceilings for these races no longer apply pursuant to the Oakland Campaign Reform Act.

If you have any questions about these rules or their effect, please do not hesitate to contact us at ethicscommission@oaklandca.gov.

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Media Contact

Whitney Barazoto
Executive Director
Public Ethics Commission