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Campaign Finance Regulations: Coordination with Small Donor Elections Program

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A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding coordination with the Small Donor Elections Program. While this page includes FAQs, they are not legal advice. For exact language and legal requirements, view Portland City Code and City Charter.


Do candidates participating in the Small Donor Elections Program have to comply with the City’s campaign disclosure regulations?

Yes. However, candidates participating in the Small Donor Elections Program do not need to include the Program or City on communication disclosures.

Do candidates participating in the Small Donor Elections Program have to comply with the Contribution limits, such as in-kind and seed-money?

A City candidate participating in the Small Donor Elections Program may receive any amount that program allows a participating candidate to receive.

Candidates participating in the Small Donor Elections Program are not allowed to accept contributions over $250, with some exceptions. What are Program participants supposed to disclose on voter communications?

First, Code Section 2.10 requires all candidates to list the political committees or other entities that paid to provide or paid to present each voter communication. Candidates participating in the Small Donor Elections Program likely have political committees or entities that must be disclosed.

Second, all candidates must list their top five dominant contributors, if they contributed more than $1,158 during the election cycle, on communications related to City candidate elections. For the purposes of these regulations, in-kind contributors and seed money contributors may qualify as disclosable top dominant contributors.

If a political committee does not have any donors who contributed more than $1,158, this second disclosure would not apply.

The Small Donor Elections Program allows candidates to accept in-kind contributions and seed money. Do candidates need to disclose those donations?

For the City’s campaign finance disclosure regulations, in-kind contributions and seed money contributions are treated no differently from any other type of contribution.

If the seed money or in-kind contribution is valued at more than $1,158 AND if the donation came from one of the top five donors of the political committee or entity who paid to provide or paid to present a particular voter communication, then disclosure is required.

I was a candidate participating in the Small Donor Elections Program, and the election recently ended. Am I allowed to collect contributions after the election?

Generally, candidates are still allowed to accept contributions under the City’s campaign finance regulations, with a few caveats.

Under the Charter's regulations, candidates are limited to receiving $579 from individuals and political committees during an election cycle, and they are not allowed to receive any contributions from entities other than political committees during an election cycle (See Code Section 2.10.010).

Some candidates may have received contributions that are allowable under the Small Donor Elections Program but not allowable under the remaining provisions of the City campaign finance regulations. For example, the Program has an in-kind contribution limit designated in administrative rule while the campaign finance regulations has a $579 in-kind contribution limit. As another example, candidates not participating in the Program are not allowed to receive contributions from entities other than political committees. In situations such as these, candidates would generally not be able to raise more funds from those contributors until after the election cycle in which they were received ends.

Are candidate debates and forums required to comply with accessibility requirements?

Yes. Code Section 2.09 requires debates and forums to be accessible if it is open to the public. This section of the code also defines what it means to be accessible. The Small Donor Elections Program provides funding up to $10,000 to help provide accessibility needs for debates and forums. If you would like to contact the Small Donor Elections Program to request funds to provide accessibility, you may call them at 503-823-4345 or email them at smalldonorelections@portlandoregon.gov.

Where do I file a complaint about a candidate debate or forum lacking accessibility?

The City's Code Section 2.09 reiterates requirements for accessibility that are captured in state and federal law. If you would like to file a complaint about a lack of accessibility, you may file with designated state and/or federal bureaus as follows:


Have additional questions? Please contact the City Elections Office at elections@portlandoregon.gov or 503-865-6503.