City Council passes resolution limiting campaign contributions for city elections to $2,500 per person per election

CATHEDRAL CITY — In an effort to preserve an orderly political forum in which individuals and groups may express themselves effectively but minimize an appearance of improper influence, real or potential, the City Council has passed a resolution limiting campaign contributions for city elections to $2,500 per election.

Effective January 1, 2021, the new limits will apply to any person, company, corporation, etc. making a contribution to a political candidate running for either City Council or city treasurer.  Violation of this ordinance would be a $500 fine.  The limit does not apply to the candidate spending his or her own personal funds towards a political campaign.

“I have always thought limits were a good idea because I think it makes for a more level playing field for those candidates who are qualified and want to serve but do not have the contacts, resources, or desire to solicit larger donations just as an ethics choice,” Mayor John Aguilar told Uken Report.  “In this case, though, we had to act on a limit or we would have to abide by the state limit that kicks in Jan. 1 of $4,700 per contribution.  The Council had a good discussion on this. There were those who argued for a smaller cap and those who wanted a larger cap. We agreed to $2,500.00.  Ultimately, I do not think it will negatively impair anyone’s ability to run and win.”

In October 2019, the Governor approved Assembly Bill 571 (“AB 571”), establishing campaign contribution limits for candidates for elective city office. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, a person (individual, business entity, committee/PAC), other than a small contributor committee or political party committee, will be prohibited from making a contribution to a candidate for elective city office in an amount greater than the amount, $4,700, set forth in the Act.

Under AB 571, a city retains its authority to impose a contribution limit by resolution or ordinance that is different (either greater or smaller) from the limitation imposed by AB 571 (Gov. Code § 85702.5(a)). The City, however, cannot remove the contribution limit altogether. A city that imposes a different limitation may also adopt different enforcement standards for a violation, including administrative, civil, or criminal penalties.

In 2016, 109 (or 23 percent of) California cities had adopted local campaign contributions limits. These limits ranged from $100 to $4,200.

At its regular meeting on Sept. 23, 2020, the City Council discussed setting a campaign contribution limit for elective city office for the City of Cathedral City. At the conclusion of that meeting, the City Council provided direction to staff to prepare a resolution establishing a campaign contribution limit of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for elective city office, and to set the penalty amount for the violation of the campaign contribution limit at five hundred dollars ($500). The penalty can be enforced by the city as a misdemeanor, infraction, or by administrative citation in accordance with Title 13 of the City of Cathedral City Municipal Code.

By setting its own contribution limit, several other provisions of AB 571 will no longer apply to candidates for elective city office for the city of Cathedral City. By operation of law, the following Government Code Sections will not apply: 85305 (governing a candidate’s contribution to another candidate’s campaign for elective state, county, or city office); 85306 (governing the transfer of campaign funds); 85307 (governing personal loans to a candidate’s campaign); 85315 (governing contributions in the event of a recall measure and election); 85316 (governing contributions received after the date of the election); 85317 (governing carry over contributions); and 85318 (governing the refund of contributions).





Image Sources

  • Money: Pixabay