New Ordinance Limits Campaign Contributions

Who Wins? Who loses?

Councilmember Richard Hurt is the originator of the Aliso Viejo City Ordinance limiting individual contributions to campaigns to $1,000 per person. As noted by Voice of OC, enforcement of the new ordinance is left to citizens to report to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, who would then have to decide if they would even pursue any violations. Penalties including the excess of the $1,000 being paid to the City General Fund. It’s not entirely clear if the OC DA would ever even pursue such city violations, however.

The state of California already has a cap of $4,900, so this city ordinance further caps at the new $1,000 limit. An interesting thing to consider is what unintended effects this additional cap on contributions could have. It is entirely possible that independently wealthy candidates could gain an advantage because there is no limit on personal spend on a campaign. Additionally contributions from PACs remain unchanged. For more info on the scale of PAC vs individual contributions, check out the visuals here on the Aliso City Watch site.

Let’s look at the impact the ordinance would have if it was passed ahead of the 2022 elections.

For this election, the ordinance would have had absolutely no impact on the incumbent Ackley. It is possible that the reform against individual contributions helps incumbents as they are more likely to have access to other sources of income, for example from PACs, while new newcomers rely more heavily on larger contributions from individuals.


Arthur Osorio

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