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City’s Public Ethics Commission Lifts Campaign Spending Limits




The City’s Public Ethics Commission on Thursday announced campaign expenditure ceilings are lifted for candidates in City Council Districts 2, 4 and now District 6, as well as School Board District 4.

“This message confirms that independent expenditures totaling more than $25,000 have been made by committees in Oakland City Council Districts 2, 4, and 6 races as well as in the Oakland Unified School District 4 race,” a City of Oakland press release said.

“Per the Oakland Campaign Reform Act, this means that the campaign expenditure ceilings no longer apply to any candidate seeking election to City Council District 2, City Council District 4, City Council District 6, and School Board District 4.”

Candidates are now allowed to spend over the expenditure ceilings, which were $142,000 for Council District 2, $136,000 for Council District 4, $136,000 for Council District 6, and $91,000 for School Board District 4.

However, individual contribution limits have not changed. Candidates’ individual contribution limits depend on whether they accepted expenditure ceilings at the beginning of the campaign. Though the ceilings are being lifted, contribution limits remain.

According to the press release, candidates who accepted the expenditure ceiling for the 2018 election “may continue to raise money at $800 per individual contributor/$1,600 per broad-based political committee—and the overall campaign expenditure ceiling no longer applies.”

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.
Expenditure ceilings for all other races remain in effect.

The Oakland Campaign Reform Act imposes contribution limits and allows contributions at a higher limit for candidates who agree to a voluntary overall campaign expenditure ceiling. This provision is designed to limit overall expenditures in campaigns, reducing the size of war chests.

While Oakland does not impose limits on independent expenditures, which are protected under federal law, the Oakland Campaign Reform Act lifts the expenditure ceiling once independent expenditures reach the threshold for a particular race.

As a result, if an independent expenditure committee spends more than $25,000 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,” the press statement said.


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