On Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will discuss increasing the limit of what individuals can continue to county campaigns.
According to the agenda, the limit is currently at $1,675 per election cycle which was put in place in 2005. The new proposal would increase this to $5,000. In two limited circumstances: where the total cumulative expenditures of the committee or committees making independent expenditures opposing the candidate or supporting the candidate’s opponent equal $75,000 or more; where the candidate faces a self-funded opponent, as defined.
If approved, it applies to candidates for the offices of Assessor, Auditor-Controller, County Clerk-Recorder, District Attorney, Sheriff-Coroner, and Treasurer-Tax Collector
The staff report further stated as to supervisorial candidates, the increased limit triggered by large independent expenditures and self-funded candidates would continue to apply. All other provisions of the Election Campaign Ordinance would remain unchanged. (See proposed Ordinance No. 2022-04, attached.)
The staff report cited its been 16-years since the campaign contribution limits were revised as the cost of elections has increased due to rising cost of living, cost for outreach and an increase of county population.
More information per the Staff Report:
Another related factor in rising campaign costs is the larger role of Independent Expenditure Committees for or against candidates in campaigns at the local level. Independent Expenditure Committees can raise large sums of money that can have an impact on the outcome of an election. Raising the individual campaign contribution limits for County elected offices will help candidates offset the potential impacts of the changes that have raised the costs of local campaigns.
In 2019, Assembly Bill 571 (Chapter 566) was signed by the Governor, and beginning January 1, 2021, it applied statutory campaign contribution limits to elective city and county offices in jurisdictions that do not have local laws imposing campaign contribution limits. Along with the statutory contribution limits, other related provisions that formerly applied only to state level candidates now apply in such local jurisdictions. The current statutory contribution limit for city and county candidates is $4,900 per election. This amount is adjusted every odd-numbered year by the Fair Political Practices Commission to reflect any increase or decrease in the Consumer Price Index.
Because this County’s Election Campaign Ordinance imposes campaign contribution limits for all elective County offices, the new statutory contribution limits and other related provisions do not apply to County candidates. (See Government Code, §§ 85301 (d); 85702.5.) AB 571 expressly acknowledges that a local government may establish a different limitation that is more precisely tailored to the needs of its communities. The proposed ordinance which would increase individual contribution limits for all County candidates to $2,500 is permitted by state law and is less than the higher statutory limit of $4,900 for individual campaign contributions in counties without local contribution limits.
If Ordinance No. 2022-04 is adopted on February 1 as proposed, it will be effective March 2, during an ongoing election cycle for candidates for both supervisorial and non-supervisorial office. This ordinance would provide that the increased contribution limits would apply to both supervisorial and non-supervisorial candidates during the remainder of the current election cycle. Thus, candidates could receive individual campaign contributions at the increased amount during the current election cycle. (See, Ordinance No. 2022-04, § IV, Effect of Ordinance on Limits Applicable to Current Election Cycle.)
Staff Report + Meeting Information
January 18, 2022
PERSONS WHO WISH TO ADDRESS THE BOARD DURING PUBLIC COMMENT OR WITH RESPECT TO AN ITEM THAT IS ON THE AGENDA MAY CALL IN DURING THE MEETING BY DIALING 888-278-0254 FOLLOWED BY THE ACCESS CODE 843298#. To indicate you wish to speak on an agenda item, please push “#2” on your phone. Access via Zoom is also available via the following link: https://cccounty-us.zoom.us/j/87344719204. To indicate you wish to speak on an agenda item, please “raise your hand” in the Zoom app.