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Election Campaign Information

Notes Regarding 2020 Citywide and Council District Elections

  • Candidates who participated in the March primary election but will not be on the November ballot may continue fundraising for the primary election only until August 30, 2020 (180 days after the election), and only to the extent that they have existing debts (including loans). If a candidate has loaned money to his or her committee and not been repaid by August 30, 2020, the loan must be forgiven or converted to a contribution. All campaign vendors must be paid by August 30, 2020.
  • Candidates who are proceeding to the November general election may continue to collect contributions to pay debts and loans associated with the primary and general elections until 180 days after the general election.
  • Contribution limits for the 2020 election cycle are as follows:

    • Individual Contributions to Candidates for Mayor and City Attorney: $1,150 per person per election
    • Individual Contributions to Council District Candidates: $600 per person per election
    • Political Party Contributions to Candidates for Mayor and City Attorney: $22,750 per party per election
    • Political Party Contributions to City Council Candidates: $11,400 per party per election
  • The Ethics Commission has prepared campaign manuals for candidates and committees participating in San Diego's 2020 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.
  • Candidates who will not spend $2,000 or more on their candidacies should refer to this PDF icon manual for applicable campaign finance rules.
  • Candidates and committees should be aware of PDF icon new advertising rules that apply to campaign advertisements disseminated for the 2020 election cycle. 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.

Notes Regarding 2018 Council District Elections

  • Candidates who ran in the June 2018 or November 2018 elections:

    • may no longer solicit or accept contributions from other individuals;
    • must have paid all of their campaign vendors.
  • Additional guidelines are found in the Ethics Commission's PDF icon post-election fact sheet.
  • For more information, please refer to the PDF icon candidate manual designed for 2018 candidates and their controlled committees, or the PDF icon committee manual designed for primarily formed recipient committees, general purpose recipient committees, and independent expenditure committees interested in supporting or opposing 2018 City candidates and/or City ballot measures.

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). Refer to the above candidate manual for additional information. Candidates who will not spend $2,000 or more on their candidacies should instead refer to this PDF icon manual for applicable campaign finance rules.

  • Candidates may not accept contributions in any amount 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.

  • 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 Campaigns page for additional information regarding campaign finance rules.

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