Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Expenditure Ceilings and Third-Party Spending

About the Individual Expenditure Ceiling

As part of the City’s voter approved public financing program, candidates must agree to abide by campaign spending limits as one of the requirements for receiving public funds. A candidate running for Board of Supervisor must agree to an initial spending cap of $250,000. A candidate running for Mayor must agree to an initial spending cap of $1,475,00. Under City law, the Ethics Commission is required to raise the Individual Expenditure Ceiling of a publicly financed candidate for Board of Supervisors or Mayor when the Total Supportive Funds of one of the candidate’s opponents, together with the Total Opposition Spending against the candidate, exceeds the candidate’s own Individual Expenditure Ceiling. The ceiling is raised in increments of $10,000 for a Board of Supervisors candidate, and $100,000 for a Mayoral candidate.

Total Supportive Funds is the sum of all funds (including monetary contributions, loans, in-kind contributions and public funds) received by a candidate other than funds in the candidate’s campaign contingency account, plus the expenditures made or expenses incurred by any person who makes independent expenditures, electioneering communications or member communications to support that candidate.

Total Opposition Spending is the sum of all expenditures made or incurred by any person for independent expenditures, electioneering communications or member communications to oppose a specific candidate. Total opposition spending does not include spending by a candidate to support himself or herself or to oppose his or her opponents in the same election.

To ensure the public is informed about third-party spending designed to influence voter choices, public disclosure reports are required during the 90 days prior to an election by persons who make independent expenditures, electioneering communications, or member communications that clearly identify a candidate for city elective office. These reports are due within 24 hours of each time a person spends $1,000 or more per candidate. Individual expenditure ceilings and third party spending reports are also regularly summarized on the campaign finance data dashboards. Information about public funding disbursed to qualified candidates can be viewed on here.

Individual Expenditure Ceilings and Voluntary Expenditure Ceiling

Third-Party Spending

San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code (“S.F. C&GC Code”) sections 1.143(c), 1.161, 1.162, and 1.163 require persons who make any independent expenditure, electioneering communication, or member communication that clearly identifies a candidate for City elective office to file disclosure statements with the Ethics Commission. For detailed instructions, please see Forms 496, 162 and 163.

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