Contribution limits differ depending upon the source of the contribution and whether a candidate agrees to voluntarily limit their campaign spending. Candidates who agree to limit their campaign spending by submitting OCRA Form 301 to the Public Ethics Commission may accept contributions in greater amounts than those who do not.
What qualifies as a broad-based political committee?
Many political action committees do not qualify as broad-based committees. To qualify as a broad-based political committee the committee must meet all the following conditions:
- Have been in existence for more than six months,
- Receive contributions from 100 or more persons, and
- Make contributions to five or more candidates.
Your committee should establish whether a committee meets all three conditions BEFORE accepting contributions above the limit for individuals, business entities, committees or other organizations.
Loans and Unpaid Bills Can Become Over-the-Limit Contributions
Be careful of a loan or unpaid bill automatically becoming an over-the-limit contribution. Except for loans from commercial lending institutions made on terms available to everyone else, all loans to Oakland candidates are treated as contributions and may not exceed contribution limits.
Candidates often spend more money than they’ve raised while campaigning. If a candidate owes a vendor over $1,500 for more than 90 days, then that extension of credit will be treated as a contribution under the Act. And since the maximum permissible contribution from any individual, business entity, committee or other organization is $800, that extension of credit (read: unpaid bill) of more than $1,500 will automatically constitute a violation of Oakland's contribution limits unless the candidate has established a set payment schedule with the vendor.
EXPENDITURE CEILINGS FOR CANDIDATES WHO AGREE TO VOLUNTARY SPENDING LIMITS (OMC§3.12.200)*
*Spending limits revised based on 2020 district population counts adopted by the Redistricting Commission on February 23, 2022.
INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE THRESHOLD LIFTING EXPENDITURE CEILINGS (OMC§3.12.220)
If independent expenditures from a single source related to a particular electoral race exceed the thresholds below, the spending limit is no longer binding on any candidate running for that same office.