Persons wishing to make contributions to City candidates must be sure to comply with applicable contribution limits and prohibitions. Most notably, City candidates may not accept contributions from corporations, including limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships; foreign nationals (without a green card), certain contractors (or their principal officers and directors) who are negotiating or recently negotiated a City contract, or with any person or affiliated entity with a financial interest in a property or project subject to a land use matter pending before certain boards and commissions. See SF C&GC Code §§ 1.114(b), 1.126(b), 1.127(b), and 11 CFR 110.20.
All other contributions to City candidates are limited to $500 per source (SF C&GC Code § 1.114(a)).
A full explanation on applicable limits for candidate contributions can be found in the Commission’s guide for contributors.
Note that contributions to Country Central Committee candidates and non-candidate committees, including ballot measure committees are generally not subject to limits unless the committee is controlled by a candidate for City elective office. Also, there is no limit on independent election-related spending (i.e., not coordinated with a candidate).
Prohibition on Contributions from Corporations
Pursuant to C&GC Code section 1.114(b), no corporation, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership organized in consonance with laws of the State of California, the United States, or any other state , territory, or foreign country, whether for profit or not, may contribute to a candidate committee. These corporations and limited liability companies may establish a separate fund for political purposes that complies with federal and state law.
Prohibition on Contributions from Contractors Doing Business with the City
Pursuant to C&GC Code section 1.126(b), a person who contracts with the City and County of San Francisco, a state agency on whose board an appointee of a City elective officer serves, the San Francisco Unified School District, or the San Francisco Community College District may not make a contribution to:
- an individual holding a City elective office if the contract must be approved by such individual, the board on which that individual serves or a state agency on whose board an appointee of that individual serves;
- a candidate for the office held by such individual; or
- a committee controlled by such individual or candidate.
The prohibition applies when:
- the City and County of San Francisco, a state agency on whose board an appointee of a City elective officer serves, the San Francisco Unified School District, or the San Francisco Community College District is a party to the contract,
- the contract or series of contracts in the same fiscal year has a total anticipated or actual value of $100,000 or more in a fiscal year, and
- the City elective officer, a board on which that officer serves, or the board of a state agency on which the officer’s appointee serves must approve that contract or series of contracts.
The prohibition applies from the submission of proposal for a contract and ends when either the parties terminate contract negotiations or twelve months have elapsed from the date the contract is approved. For unsuccessful bidders, the prohibition applies from the submission of proposal for a contract until the contract is awarded. During this period, a contribution may not be made from the following persons:
- any party or prospective party to the contract,
- the contracting party’s board of directors, its chairperson, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer,
- any person with an ownership interest of more than 20 percent in the contracting party,
- any subcontractor listed in the contract, and
- any committee that is sponsored or controlled by the contracting party.
Prohibition on Contributions by Persons with Pending Land Use Matters
Pursuant to C&GC Code section 1.127(b), no person or affiliated entity with a financial interest in a property or project subject to a land use matter pending before the Board of Appeals, Board of Supervisors, Building Inspection Commission, Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Commission, Port Commission, or Treasure Island Development Authority Board of Directors, from contributing any amount to a member of the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, and the City Attorney, as well as, candidates for such offices, and committees controlled by such officers. Conversely, specified City elected officers and candidate committees may not accept or solicit contributions from individuals or affiliated entities with pending land use matters in accordance with section 1.127(b).
For the purposes of 1.127, a person or affiliated entity has a financial interest if they meet one of the following criteria:
- has an ownership interest of $5 million or more in a property or project;
- holds the position of director or principal officer, or are a member of the Board of Directors for an entity that has an ownership interest of $5 million or more in a property or project; or
- is a developer with an estimated construction costs of at least $5 million in a property or project that is subject to a Land Use Matter.
A person’s primary residence is not subject to the prohibitions of this section.
Restrictions on Contributions to Department Heads and Appointed Officials
California Government Code section 84308 prohibits department heads and members of appointed boards and commissions 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.
Section 84308 applies to department heads and appointed boards and commissions. Although the section does not apply to elected bodies such as the Board of Supervisors, when members of an elected body are sitting as members of an appointed body, they are subject to section 84308. But if the entire body is made up of elected officials, as for example, where the Board of Supervisors is designated to sit as the Transportation Authority, section 84308 does not apply. 2 C.C.R. § 18438.1.
The prohibition under Section 84308 applies:
- while a proceeding is pending before the officer’s agency; and
- for three months following the date of the decision.