SLO City Council votes to raise cap on campaign contributions

acornejo@thetribunenews.comFebruary 5, 2014 

The San Luis Obispo City Council approved, with a 4-1 vote, several changes to the city’s election campaign regulations Tuesday night.

The cap on individual contributions to candidates is now $300, an increase from the $200 the limit was previously set at.

Councilman Dan Carpenter dissented, saying that he did not support putting a limitation on donations. He said he considered it a “burden on free speech.”

A six-member citizen committee appointed by the council in August to review the city’s campaign regulations recommended the change.

San Luis Obispo’s campaign regulations were adopted in 1974 to pave the way for all citizens to have the opportunity to run for office without excessive campaign costs.

The last update of the regulations was done in January 2010.

Local attorney Stew Jenkins cautioned the council that the constitutionality of limiting individual contributions could change based on a ruling expected soon from the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Ultimately you are playing with people’s civil rights,” Jenkins told the council Tuesday.

San Luis Obispo resident Ty Griffin, who chaired the committee, said that the majority of its members agreed the cap was still warranted.

“We feel that our system in San Luis Obispo is not broken — it works fine,” said Griffin.

Other changes made to the city’s election campaign regulations include eliminating a requirement that candidates file a supplemental campaign statement showing all contributions of more than $50 but less than $100. State law requires contributions of $100 or more be reported.

Future candidates will also no longer be required to close their campaign accounts as previously required; they can now keep the accounts open for future campaigns.

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