SSFs may make contributions to candidates and to their authorized committees. The limit on contributions from an SSF to a candidate or candidate’s committee depends on whether the SSF qualifies as a multicandidate committee.
Contributions from non-multicandidate SSF
During the 2019-2020 election cycle, an SSF may contribute up to $2,800 per candidate, per election, unless it qualifies as a multicandidate committee.
Contributions from multicandidate SSF
An SSF that has qualified as a multicandidate committee may contribute up to $5,000 per candidate, per election. When making a contribution to a candidate or candidate’s campaign, a multicandidate SSF must give the recipient a written notification that it has qualified as a multicandidate committee. For convenience, the statement may be pre-printed on the committee’s checks, letterhead or other appropriate materials.
Contribution limits for 2019-2020
|Candidate committee||PAC† (SSF and nonconnected)||Party committee: state/district/local||Party committee: national||Additional national party committee accounts‡|
|Donor||Individual||$2,800* per election||$5,000 per year||$10,000 per year (combined)||$35,500* per year||$106,500* per account, per year|
|Candidate committee||$2,000 per election||$5,000 per year||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
|PAC: multicandidate||$5,000 per election||$5,000 per year||$5,000 per year (combined)||$15,000 per year||$45,000 per account, per year|
|PAC: nonmulticandidate||$2,800* per election||$5,000 per year||$10,000 per year (combined)||$35,500* per year||$106,500* per account, per year|
|Party committee: state/district/local||$5,000 per election (combined)||$5,000 per year (combined)||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
|Party committee: national||$5,000 per election**||$5,000 per year||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
*Indexed for inflation in odd-numbered years.
†“PAC” here refers to a committee that makes contributions to other federal political committees. Independent-expenditure-only political committees (sometimes called “Super PACs”) may accept unlimited contributions, including from corporations and labor organizations.
‡The limits in this column apply to a national party committee’s accounts for: (i) the presidential nominating convention; (ii) election recounts and contests and other legal proceedings; and (iii) national party headquarters buildings. A party’s national committee, Senate campaign committee and House campaign committee are each considered separate national party committees with separate limits. Only a national party committee, not the parties’ national congressional campaign committees, may have an account for the presidential nominating convention.
**Additionally, a national party committee and its Senatorial campaign committee may contribute up to $49,600 combined per campaign to each Senate candidate.
Gifts of money
Monetary contributions exceeding $100 must be made by check or other written instrument drawn on the SSF’s account.
Purchase of fundraising items and tickets
An SSF may purchase tickets to a fundraising event held by a candidate’s committee, or it may purchase items sold for fundraising purposes by the committee. The entire amount paid for a ticket or item is considered a contribution.
How the candidate limits work
House and Senate candidates
The limits on contributions to House and Senate candidates apply separately to each election in which a candidate participates. In House and Senate races, each primary election, general election, runoff and special election is considered a separate election with a separate limit. (A special election may itself involve separate primary, general and/or runoff elections, each with a separate contribution limit.) In some cases, a party caucus or convention is considered a primary election. The Commission strongly recommends that SSFs designate their contributions for a particular election.
Party caucus or convention
A party caucus or convention constitutes a separate election only if it has the authority under state law to select a nominee for federal office. (Notable examples of these types of conventions are those held in Connecticut, Utah and Virginia.) Otherwise, there is no separate limit for a caucus or convention; it is considered part of the primary process.
Candidates who lose in the primary
A candidate is entitled to receive contributions for a particular election only if he or she seeks office in that election. Thus, a candidate who loses the primary (or otherwise does not participate in the general election) does not have a separate limit for the general.
Unopposed candidates; elections not held
An SSF may make a contribution to a candidate for a particular election even if:
- The candidate is unopposed in an election; or
- A primary or general election is not held because the candidate is unopposed or received a majority of votes in the previous election.
- The date on which the election would have been held is considered the date of the election.
All presidential primary elections held during an election year are considered one election for the purposes of the contribution limits. A multicandidate SSF, therefore, may give only $5,000 to a presidential candidate’s primary campaign, regardless of how many separate state presidential primaries the candidate participates in.
In the general election, a multicandidate SSF may contribute $5,000 to a candidate (and a non-multicandidate committee, $2,800) with some exceptions for candidates who have chosen to accept public funding. SSFs may contribute to a publicly funded presidential nominee’s “compliance fund.” A compliance fund is used solely for legal and accounting expenses incurred in complying with federal law. Gifts to compliance funds are considered contributions and are subject to the per-candidate, per-election limits.