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Election Campaign Information

Notes Regarding 2018 Council District Elections

  • Contribution limits for the 2018 election cycle are as follows:

    • Individual Contributions to Council District Candidates: $550 per person per election
    • Political Party Contributions to City Council Candidates: $10,700 per party per election
  • On May 15, 2018, the City Council approved the PDF icon Ethics Commission's proposal to update ECCO to be consistent with the State's new advertising laws. The City's new laws went into effect on July 14, 2018. At that time, PDF icon new advertising rules became applicable to campaign advertisements disseminated for the November 2018 general election. For example:
    • Advertisements disseminated by a primarily formed recipient committee with at least one $10,000 donor must now contain a "Funding details at www.sandiego.gov/donors" disclosure.
    • Primarily formed recipient committees must now notify the Ethics Commission by email whenever any of their donors cross the $10,000 contribution threshold.
  • Fact sheets discussing the new advertising rules can be found on the Commission's Fact Sheet page.
  • Candidates may not accept contributions from businesses, non-profit organizations, political committees (other than a political party committee), or other non-individual entities. A contribution from a sole proprietorship is treated as a contribution from the individual doing business as a sole proprietorship.
  • The Ethics Commission has prepared campaign manuals for candidates and committees participating in San Diego's 2018 primary and general elections. The PDF icon candidate manual is designed for candidates and their controlled committees, while the PDF icon committee manual is designed for primarily formed recipient committees, general purpose recipient committees, and independent expenditure committees interested in supporting or opposing City candidates and/or City ballot measures.

Notes Regarding 2016 Citywide and Council District Elections

  • Candidates who participated in the June and/or November elections may no longer accept contributions from other persons.  If a candidate has outstanding loans to his or her committee, those loans must be forgiven or converted to contributions.

Notes Regarding All City Elections

  • The Ethics Commission has prepared a webinar for City candidates and treasurers. It is designed to provide basic information regarding local campaign rules, and is intended to supplement the FPPC's webinar. Both webinars can be view on the Ethics Commission's Campaign Webinars page.
  • Candidates who raise or spend $2,000 or more in connection with their candidacy must create a campaign committee by filing a Form 410 Statement of Organization with the California Secretary of State (and a copy with the City Clerk).

  • Candidates may not accept contributions in any amount from non-individuals (other than a political party committee).

  • Candidates and committees that have raised at least $10,000 in contributions must file their campaign statements (e.g., Forms 460, 465, 496, 497) using the City Clerk's electronic filing system. Candidates and committees below the $10,000 threshold have a choice of filing their campaign statements in paper format or electronically.

  • All candidate committees must have a treasurer. A candidate may serve as his/her own treasurer, or ask a friend or relative to volunteer as the treasurer. Candidates who plan to spend more than $10,000 are strongly encouraged to retain a professional treasurer to ensure compliance with the City's laws. The majority of candidates who spend more than $10,000 will have their campaigns audited, and may be required to pay fines if the audits reveal material violations of campaign laws. Information regarding professional campaign treasurers doing business in California can be obtained from the California Political Treasurers Association.

  • Candidates should familiarize themselves with the Ethics Commission's PDF icon Top Ten Rules for City Candidates.


Visit the Ethics Commission's Candidates and Committees page for additional information regarding campaign finance rules.


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