Setting up a Political Action Committee in California

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California PAC's - Contributions and Anonymity

The maximum an individual or an LLC can donate to a PAC to be used for campaign efforts is $7,300 for the entire calendar year. The maximum a PAC can donate to candidates, meanwhile, is based on election cycle and depends on the position a candidate is running for. For example, $7,300 can be donated per election cycle - for a maximum of a total of $14,600 for both the primary cycle and general election cycle - to the candidate running for the governor position. Overall, PACs do not have to disclose their donor information unless they participate in specific propaganda efforts which are listed below. All the sources we used were specifically targeted towards providing information for California PACs and regarding election regulation in the state of California.

The MAXIMUM an individual or an LLC can give to a PAC in the State of California

A PAC that makes contributions to state candidates as well as state officeholders is limited by the amount they can accept from a single source in a calendar year. There are two different accounts a PAC can open. The first is called the All Purpose Account. The all-purpose account "is subject to a calendar year limit per contributor. For example, in 2017 and 2018 the maximum amount a person may contribute to an all-purpose account is $7,300 for the entire calendar year."

The second account is called the Restriced Use Account. Restricted Use Account can be used to store contributions received in excess of the contribution limits. However, funds in this account cannot be used "for the purpose of making contributions to state candidates or to other committees for the purpose of making contributions to state candidates". The funds in the Restricted Use Account can be used for "independent expenditures, contributions to local candidates, contributions to state and local ballot measure committees, voter registration, administrative costs", and other things that are not included in financing state candidates.

The MAXIMUM that PAC can give to a candidate in the state primary campaign and in the general campaign

2017-2018 contribution limits to state candidates, per election cycle, are as follows:
$4,400 to the candidate running for the Senate and Assembly
$4,400 to the candidate running for the CalPERS/CalSTRS
$7,300 to the candidate running for the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Controller, Supt. Of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner, and Board of Equalization
$29,200 to the candidate running for Governor

There exists no limits for donating to committee account that is not intended for state candidates and is instead intended for ballot measure, or a political party.

Overall, candidates who are seeking a state office can receive a total of $7,300 per calendar year (effective January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2018) from a single source such as a PAC.

Mechanisms for maintaining the anonymity of donors to PACS

Many political organizations including PACs have 501(c)(4) arms that are designed to allow the donors to remain anonymous. Donors that don't want to disclose their name, and other personal information choose to give to these organizations. However, there is a limit on how much money PACs can spend on influencing candidate elections. On top of that, PACs need to remain careful how they ask for money.

Overall, a 501(c)(4) organization should only think about not soliciting contributions to fund a specific advertisement, and they will not have to reveal their donor data. This applies to federal elections.

When dealing with state elections and ballot measures, there are three different situations where PACs will be asked to reveal donor information. The first scenarios is where PAC is "funding communications to support or oppose a ballot measure". In this case, the PAC will have to register with the ballot measure committee and will be legally requested to disclose its donors. The second scenario entails communications that refer to specific candidates and are made relatively close to an election. This specifically applies to TV ads. In this case the state will require disclosure. The third situation entails communication that "expressly urges a vote for or against a specific candidate".

CONCLUSION

We provide an overview of California PACs including the maximum an individual or an LLC can give to a PAC in the State of California, the that PAC can give to a candidate in the state primary campaign and then in the general campaign, and mechanisms for maintaining the anonymity of donors to PACs.
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Sources