Santa Cruz, CA Campaign Finance Reform

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Santa Cruz, CA, US

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Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted in June 2000

Source File:


The Santa Cruz City Council enacted the campaign finance reform ordinance in June, 2000, upon the recommendation of the Campaign Finance Reform Task Force. The Task Force had met since early 1997 to study the possible impacts of voluntary spending limits on local elections. The 2000 ordinance essentially limited campaign expenditures by candidates, and after further consideration, the Council amended the ordinance in April, 2002, to include limitations on campaign contributions to candidates. In 2004 there was an additional ordinance pertaining to City Council Election Campaign expenditures and contributions.

The Council and Task force recognized that monetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of citizen participation, but that the financial strength of individuals or organizations should not permit them to exercise a controlling influence on the election of candidates. The intended purposes of the City's voluntary campaign expenditure and contribution limitations ordinance are:

  • to minimize the potentially corrupting influence and appearances of corruption caused by excessive contributions;
  • to limit overall expenditures in campaigns, thereby allowing candidates to spend less time fundraising and more time communicating with voters; and
  • to provide incentives that encourage candidates to voluntarily limit their campaign expenditures.

Candidates who agree to the campaign spending and contribution limits are entitled to be featured (at no charge to themselves) on the City's website.

The City will also pay for the cost of maintaining the required electronic record keeping for campaign finance records from July 1 through January 31 for each election.

The expenditure limitation cap is established every election year by using the most recent census records and a rate of $.39 per city resident.

Therefore, this year's (2007) expenditure limit is $22,200 (56,925 residents x $.39).

The contribution limit is $290 per individual or business and $696 from an organizational entity or committee.

Candidates must agree to

  • spend $1,000 in supporting their candidacy or procure 250 signatures of City electors
  • form a controlled finance committee
  • accept contribution and expenditure limits
  • provide information from any organization upon the request of the City of Santa Cruz.