Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Press Release – May 29, 2014 – San Francisco Ethics Commission Suspends Enforcement Of The City’s Aggregate Contribution Limit

Contact:
John St. Croix
(415) 252-3100

For release:
May 29, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION SUSPENDS ENFORCEMENT OF THE CITY’S AGGREGATE CONTRIBUTION LIMIT

At its special meeting on May 28, 2014, the San Francisco Ethics Commission adopted a resolution stating that it will not enforce the aggregate limit on contributions to City candidates in a given election, which is found in San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.114(a)(2).

The resolution was adopted in light of the United States Supreme Court’s recent opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, which struck down a federal law limiting how much an individual could contribute to federal candidates, parties and PACs in a two-year election cycle. The Court found that this federal aggregate limit violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

City law similarly imposes an aggregate limit on contributions by an individual or committee to all candidates in a given City election. That limit is $500 multiplied by the number of City elective offices to be voted on in that election. The Commission resolved to suspend enforcement of this aggregate limit in light of the holding in McCutcheon.

The Commission’s resolution does not impact the City’s $500 limit on contributions from an individual to a single City candidate, which remains in full force. Please visit the Commission’s website (www.sfethics.org) for more information about the City’s campaign finance laws.

The full text of the Commission’s resolution follows.

RESOLUTION

    WHEREAS the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, decided McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 572 U.S. ___, No. 12-536 (S. Ct. Apr. 2, 2014) on April 2, 2014, striking down section 441a(a)(3) of Title 2 of the United States Code; and

    WHEREAS section 1.114(a)(2) of the San Francisco Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance (“CFRO”), Article I, Chapter 1 of the Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code, is similar to the provision at issue in the McCutcheon case in that it imposes an aggregate contribution limit how much a person may contribute to multiple candidates in a single City election; and

    WHEREAS in light of the legal precedent and reasoning set forth in the McCutcheon case, CFRO section 1.114(a)(2) should not be enforced at this time; and

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the San Francisco Ethics Commission that, as of the date of this resolution, it will do the following:

  • Suspend enforcement of CFRO section 1.114(a)(2)
  • Advise that contributors and committees are not subject to an aggregate limit on total contributions in a single election

    I certify that this resolution was adopted by the San Francisco Ethics Commission on May 28, 2014.

_____________//s//___________
John St. Croix, Executive Director
San Francisco Ethics Commission

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The Ethics Commission, established in November 1993, serves the public, City employees and officials and candidates for public office through education and enforcement of ethics laws. Its duties include: filing and auditing of campaign finance disclosure statements, lobbyist and campaign consultant registration and regulation, administration of the public financing program, whistleblower program, conflict of interest reporting, investigations and enforcement, education and training, advice giving and statistical reporting.

S:\Commission\Press Release – McCutcheon Resolution – 4.29.2014.docx

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