Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Running the Campaign (Fundraising & Campaign Communications)

Fundraising and distributing campaign communications are two fundamental parts of any campaign. State and local law impose a number of requirements and restrictions with respect to these aspects of a campaign.

County Central Committee seats are NOT considered City elective offices and have different filing obligations. Candidates for these seats should see the Information for Candidates for County Central Committee page.

Fundraising

City candidates must be sure to comply with applicable contribution limits and prohibitions.  Most notably, City candidates may not accept contributions from corporations, foreign nationals (without lawful permanent residence), or certain contractors (or their officers and directors) who are negotiating or recently negotiated a City contract.  All other contributions are limited to $500 per source.  A full explanation on applicable limits can be found in the Commission’s guide for contributors.

Candidates must also be sure to collect the following information from any contributor prior to accepting a contribution of $100 or more: full name, street address, and occupation and employer.  Cash contributions of $100 or more are prohibited.

In addition, department heads or members of appointed boards and commissions are prohibited from soliciting contributions in excess of $250 from persons who are parties to, or participants in, proceedings pending before them, and from making decisions affecting a source of campaign contributions of more than $250. City officials must consult their department’s Statement of Incompatible Activities and the Good Government Guide to ensure compliance.

The Ethics Commission has also produced guidelines for due diligence efforts in connection with prohibited contributions as well as a sample contributor card (Word) (PDF) template for use in collecting contributor information and complying with contribution restrictions.

Use of campaign funds

State law imposes restrictions on how campaign funds may be used.  Generally, any expenditure of campaign funds must be reasonably related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose.  Additionally, any expenditure that confers a “substantial personal benefit” (i.e., worth $200 or more) on the candidate, officeholder or any individual authorized to approve campaign expenditures must be directly related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose.  Local law also prohibits the use of campaign funds to support or oppose other candidates or measures, and to make donations to nonprofit organizations. The FPPC’s and the Commission’s candidate guides set forth the restrictions on the use of campaign funds in more detail.

Distributing campaign communications (Candidate Advertisement Disclaimers)

Under state and local law, candidate campaigns must include certain disclaimers on their communications with potential voters, including mailers, billboards, phone calls, and TV and radio ads.  A disclaimer is the portion of a political message that identifies the person or entity who paid for or authorized the communication.

I. Communications by City Candidate Committees for their own Election

Local law also imposes a reporting requirement when a candidate sends a mass mailer.  That requirement is explained in the next section.
Reporting and recordkeeping

Was this page helpful?

:

*Required fields

Scan with a QR reader to access page:
QR Code to Access Page
https://sfethics.org/compliance/campaigns/candidates/running-the-campaign-fundraising-campaign-communications