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Campaign Finance

The City of Sacramento has adopted local campaign finance regulations for public campaign financing (also referred to as matching funds).  These regulations pertain to provisions for financial support for a candidate for elective office through payment of public "matching" dollars, restrict spending, and place limits on contributions. The Campaign Reform Fund has not been funded since Fiscal Year 2010/2011. Therefore, public financing is not available. Limits to contributions remain in full force and effect and can be reviewed by visiting the Contribution Limits webpage.

Campaign Spending Limits and Public Campaign Financing
(NOT FUNDED since FY2010/2011)

The following table outlines what a candidate needs to know in order to comply with the City’s regulations. Several of the regulations apply to all candidates whether or not the candidate accepts public funding. Campaign finance regulations are very complicated. The information below is provided as a general guideline to assist in understanding the provisions. Interested persons are strongly encouraged to read the full content of City Code section 2.14 to ensure compliance with all provisions.


Frequently Asked Questions

How does a candidate become eligible for matching funds?

Which contributions count toward the $7,500 or $10,000 eligibility threshold?

Which contributions are eligible for matching funds?

Is there a limit to the amount of matching funds that a candidate may receive?

Which provisions of campaign financing apply to ALL candidates?

What method of delivery is required for the notices?

Why are these notices required?

Are there any special instructions relating to tracking contributions?

How do I request matching funds?

How often may a matching funds request be submitted?

How long does it take to receive the funds?

What are the eligibility requirements for requesting matching funds if a candidate is involved in a general (run-off) election?

Lifting of Spending (Expenditure) Limits

Use of Matching Funds

Surplus Funds for Candidates Receiving Matching Funds


How Does a Candidate Become Eligible for Matching Funds?

To become eligible the candidate must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Files a "Statement of Acceptance of Public Financing" form with the nomination documents.
  • Files the "Code of Fair Campaign Practices" form with the nomination documents.
  • Has not rescinded the "Statement of Acceptance".
  • Has raised and deposited in the candidate’s official campaign bank account at least $7,500 (Council Member) or $10,000 (Mayor) in eligible contributions.
  • Is opposed by a candidate who has qualified for matching funds. Or, is opposed by a candidate who has raised or deposited $7,500 (Council Member) or $10,000 (Mayor) in eligible contributions in his/her official campaign bank account.
  • Agrees to participate in at least one public forum in which all qualified candidates are invited to participate.
  • Voluntarily agrees to limit campaign spending to $88,000 (Council Member) or $585,000 (Mayor).         
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Which Contributions Count Toward the $7,500 or $10,000 Eligibility Threshold?

Eligible contributions are:

  • Contributions raised and deposited in the candidate’s official campaign account after July 1st of the year preceding the election.
  • Contributions totaling $250 or less per source. For contributions over $250, only the first $250 of any contribution shall be counted. The remainder shall not.
  • Contributions from the candidate’s personal funds, the candidates spouse or dependent children, loans, pledges, extensions of credit, and non-monetary contributions are excluded.
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Which Contributions are Eligible for Matching Funds?

Once a candidate has met the above requirements, contributions eligible for matching funds are:

  • Only those contributions received and deposited into the candidate’s official campaign account January 1 through June 30 of the election year.
  • Contributions totaling $250 or less per source. For contributions over $250, only the first $250 of any contribution shall be counted. The remainder shall not.
  • Contributions from the candidate’s personal funds, the candidates spouse or dependent children, loans, pledges, extensions of credit, and non-monetary contributions are excluded.
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Is There a Limit to the Amount of Matching Funds that a Candidate may Receive?

Yes, there is a limit. The maximum amount available to a candidate is $35,200 (Council Member) or $117,000 (Mayor) in qualifying contributions per election period. Qualifying contributions are matched at a ratio of $1.00 for each dollar received. 
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Which Provisions of Campaign Financing Apply to ALL Candidates? 

All candidates must:

  • File a "Statement of Acceptance of Public Financing" or a "Statement of Rejection of Public Financing" with their nomination documents.
  • File a "threshold" notice with the City Clerk when eligible contributions are received in the amount of $7,500 (Council Member) or $10,000 (Mayor).
  • File a "threshold" notice with the City Clerk (and opposing candidates) when contributions, cash on hand, or qualified campaign expenditures exceed 75% of the spending limits or $66,000 (Council Member) or $438,750 (Mayor).
  • File a supplemental pre-election campaign statement Form 460.
  • File a supplemental post-election campaign statement Form 460.
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What Method of Delivery is Required for the Notices?

Notices shall be made by mailgram, telegram, guaranteed overnight mail, or personal delivery within 24 hours of reaching the contribution, cash on hand, or expenditure thresholds. Forms are available from the Office of the City Clerk. 
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Why are these Notices Required?

These notices are required for two important reasons:

  • Provides confirmation that an opposing candidate has met the eligibility requirements of raising $7,500 (Council Member) $10,000 (Mayor) in qualifying contributions.
  • Establishes the criteria for which spending limit may be lifted. 
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Are there any Special Instructions Relating to Tracking Contributions?

Yes, there are special instructions.

In any campaign, an accurate and organized record must be kept of all contributions and expenditures. All individuals who handle campaign receipts and expenditures must follow the record keeping procedures required by the Political Reform Act and the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

In addition, City Code requires candidates requesting matching funds to provide a greater level of contributor detail for amounts received under $100. The City will not match funds for contributions where the candidate did not keep accurate and detailed records. To maximize the number of contributions eligible for matching funds, candidates are encouraged to keep detailed records of all contributions.

Also provided in City Code is the requirement that candidates aggregate (add together) contributions from related entities. The tracking of related entities is important as it may affect whether or not a contribution is considered eligible for matching funds. For a definition of “related entities” and a description on the requirement to aggregate these types of contributions, refer to the City Code section 2.13.060.

For more information on the record keeping procedures required by the Political Reform Act, refer to the FPPC publication Campaign Disclosure Manual 2 – Information for Local Candidates. Candidates should also read the City Code section 2.14.280 pertaining to Duties of Treasurers and Candidates.
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How Do I Request Matching Funds?

After qualifying, a candidate must complete and submit the following:

  • A signed Public Financing Matching Funds Request Form (provided by the City Clerk) containing qualifying contributions current through two (2) calendar days before filing.
  • An electronic copy of the completed form via computer disk or other electronic media.
  • Copies of contribution checks, money orders, or other written legal tender for each qualifying contribution requested. 
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How Often May a Matching Funds Request Form be Submitted?

After the initial request, a candidate or candidate’s controlled committee may submit another request for matching funds each time a threshold of $7,500 (Council Member) or $10,000 (Mayor) in qualifying contributions is reached.

A candidate may also submit a request for matching funds of $1,000 or more during the ten (10) calendar days preceding the election.

After the date of the election, the candidate may submit one (1) final request for payment. Such request shall be submitted within two (2) days after the last day of the election period.

For all requests, the information contained in the request form shall cover qualifying contributions current through two (2) calendar days before filing the form. 
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How Long Does it Take to Receive the Funds? 

The City’s Finance Department has ten (10) working days to approve or reject a request for payment of matching funds. When approved, the City will disburse the funds to the candidate or the candidate’s controlled committee. Submission of clear and organized support documentation will assist with the timely processing of the request. 
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What are the Eligibility Requirements for Requesting Matching Funds if a Candidate is Involved in a General (Run-Off) Election?

The requirements are the same, except that only those contributions received and deposited into the candidate’s official campaign account from July 1 through December 31 of the election year are eligible. 
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Other Things to Know

There are several other important local and state regulations that the candidate must be aware of. Those regulations include:

Lifting of Spending (Expenditure) Limits – The voluntary expenditure limits (ceiling) shall be lifted as to any candidate running for elective office if one of the following occurs: 

  • If another candidate for the same office declines to accept the voluntary expenditure limits and receives contributions, has cash on hand, or makes qualified campaign expenditures in excess of 75% of the limit for that office. Seventy-five percent of the limits are $66,000 (Council Member) and $438,750 (Mayor).
  • If an independent expenditure committee or committees in aggregate spends more than 50% of the expenditure limits $44,000 (Council Member) or $292,500 (Mayor) in support of, or in opposition to another candidate for that office, the spending limits may be lifted.

The determination to lift the expenditure limits shall be made only by the City Clerk. In making the determination to lift the limits, the City Clerk shall rely on information contained in filed threshold notifications or campaign disclosure statements. No candidate who accepts the spending limits may exceed the limits except upon notice by the City Clerk.
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Use of Matching Funds - Matching public funds may only be used for expenditures for direct voter outreach purposes. This is defined to mean campaign literature, publicity, postage and signage. Matching public funds may not be spent for the following:

  • Payments made to the candidate or a family relative, or a business in which the candidate or family relative has an ownership interest. For a definition of the term “family relative” City Code section 2.16.140.
  • Payments in excess of the fair market value of services, materials, facilities or other things of value received in exchange;
  • Payments in cash; and
  • Payments made for travel outside of California and expenses related to such travel.

Candidates who accept matching public funds shall obtain and maintain verifiable written receipts, invoices or other written documentation of the purpose and nature of expenditures. Expenditures for which there is no such documentation shall be excluded from consideration in determining whether public funds were spent on permissible purposes. 
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Surplus Funds for Candidates Receiving Matching Funds - Candidates who receive matching funds, and have surplus funds remaining in his/her campaign account, after all obligations are met, shall return such surplus funds to the City. This amount shall not exceed the amount paid to the candidate from the Campaign Reform Fund. 
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Audit- Each candidate who receives matching funds shall be subject to audit. Such candidate shall provide the City with all financial records, documents and any other information or materials requested. 
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Need Assistance or Have Questions?

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