by email from the Ethics Commission
AGGREGATE CONTRIBUTION LIMITS SUSPENDED IN THE WAKE OF McCUTCHEON v. FEC
22 April2014 :: On the advice of the City Attorney’s office, the Ethics Commission adopted a resolution on April 17, 2014, stating that the aggregate contribution limits in Los Angeles City Charter (Charter) sections 470(c)(6) and 803(b)(5) will not be enforced against contributors in City or Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (LAUSD) elections.
The City Attorney’s advice was based on the United States Supreme Court’s decision inMcCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (McCutcheon), 572 U.S. ___, No. 12-536 (S. Ct. Apr. 2, 2014). In its 5-4 ruling, the Court struck down section 441a(a)(3) of Title 2 of the United States Code, which limits the aggregate amount of money a person may contribute to all candidates in a federal election. The Court examined the federal aggregate contribution limits on First Amendment grounds and found that preventing an individual from making contributions to as many candidates and committees as the individual desires imposes a significant restriction on speech and association rights.
There are two similar aggregate contribution limits in City law. Charter section 470(c)(6) limits aggregate contributions by a single person to all candidates in a City election, and Charter section 803(b)(5) limits aggregate contributions by a single person to all candidates in LAUSD elections. The City Attorney’s office advised that enforcement of both sections should be suspended in light of the compelling legal precedent in McCutcheon.
The limits on contributions from a single person to a single candidate remain unchanged. A copy of the resolution adopted by the Ethics Commission and additional information about the City’s campaign finance laws are available at ethics.lacity.org or by contacting the Ethics Commission at (213) 978-1960.