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Federal Election Commission

August 27, 2007


What is the Millionaires’ Amendment?

The Millionaires’ Amendment is a part of the McCain-Feingold Law passed in 2002 that increases contribution limits for candidates who face opponents who put substantial sums of their personal funds into their own campaigns.

How much money does the millionaire have to put in before his or her opponent gets increased limits?

  • There is a $350,000 threshold that triggers the Millionaires’ Amendment in House races. 

  • In Senate races, it depends on how populous the state is.  For example in Arizona the threshold is $663,040, and in Connecticut it is $514,960.  In a large state like California, the millionaire would have to put in at least $2,454,000 before the Millionaires’ Amendment is triggered.  This link has a list of the threshold amounts for Senate races in every state.

How does the Millionaires’ amendment work?

  • Once the millionaire candidate trips the spending threshold, the candidate must notify his  opponents and the FEC by filing a FEC Form 10 within 24 hours.
  • Opposing candidates then follow the instructions on Form 11 to determine whether or not they have increased limits.

How much do the contribution limits go up?

  • In House races, the limits can increase to $6,900 per election.
  • In Senate races, the increase in limits depends on how much money the millionaire candidate puts it.  Increased contribution limits will be $6,900 or $13,800 per election.

Under certain circumstances the national and state parties may make unlimited coordinated party expenditures on behalf of their general election candidate.

Is it true that once the millionaire candidate puts in an amount to trigger the Millionaires’ amendment, all opponents get increased limits?


  • Not all candidates will have increased limits.  For example, if a candidate in the Republican primary donates money to his campaign during the primary season, then only his Republican primary opponents are eligible for increased contribution limits.
  • If the millionaire candidate wins the Republican primary and contributes or transfers personally donated funds to his general election campaign above the threshold amounts, then his general election opponent may also be entitled to increased limits during the general election.

Will the millionaire’s opponents automatically receive increased limits if the millionaire candidate exceeds the threshold?

No. A candidate who has considerably outraised a millionaire opponent will not have increased limits unless the millionaire candidate’s contributions significantly narrow the fundraising gap.

What factors go into whether or not a candidate receives increased limits?

With the exception of special elections, increased limits depend upon:

  • The difference between what the millionaire candidate and his opponent have each contributed; and
  • The difference in fundraising between the millionaire candidate and his opponent as of 06/30/07.

To determine whether increased limits apply, take one half of the overall fundraising difference between the two candidates and subtract that amount from the difference in personal funds.  If what you are left with exceeds the threshold amount ($350,000 in House races, or see this table for Senate races), the non-millionaire candidate receives increased limits.

Below are two fictional races.  In the first scenario the non-millionaire has vastly out raised the millionaire.  In the second case, the fundraising between the two candidates is closer:

In a House race, John Doe has raised $1,500,000.  John’s millionaire opponent has raised $100,000 and contributed $375,000 in personal funds.  Under these circumstances, John Doe is not entitled to increased limits.

In a Connecticut Senate race, Jane Smith has raised $1,000,000.  Jane’s millionaire opponent has raised $800,000 and contributed $750,000 in personal funds.  Under these circumstances Jane Smith is entitled to increased limits.

How do I know if a particular candidate will receive increased limits?

With the exception of special elections, we need a couple of pieces of information:

  • Each candidate’s Gross Receipts as of June 30, 2007.  You can find this on page 3Z-1 on the candidates’ July Quarterly reports here .
  • Each candidate’s contributions and loans to their campaign.
  • The Form 11 instructions.
  • For Senate candidates, this chart.

With this information, you can use the worksheet in the Form 11 instructions to determine whether or not there are increased limits.

If a millionaire candidate contributes money during the primary, does his opponent in the general election automatically get increased limits?

If the millionaire candidate contributes or transfers money to his general election campaign, then his opponent may receive increased limits.  More specifically, if money the millionaire contributed during to his primary campagin is transferred to his general campaign, then those funds count towards the triggering threshold for the general election.  For example, if a candidate contributed $800,000 dollars to the primary campaign but only spent $200,000 of those funds during the primary, the remaining $600,000 that is transferred to the general campaign would count toward the threshold ($350,000 in House races, or see this table for Senate races) for the general election.

Other Resources

2007 Senate Threshold amounts

2004 Senate Races Where the Millionaire's Amendment was Invoked

2004 House Races Where the Millionaire's Amendment was Invoked

More information about the Millionaire's Amendment