information
Storm damage recovery

Campaign Finance Regulations: Disclosure Requirements

Information
On this page

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding disclosure requirements on communications to voters for Portland candidate elections. While this page includes FAQs, they are not legal advice. For exact language and legal requirements, view Portland City Code and City Charter.


I’m running for office. What exactly do I need to disclose on my campaign communications?

View the City of Portland Elections Office's guidance on disclosure requirements.

With limited exceptions, communications related to City candidate elections must include the following disclosure information: 

  • Any political committee, candidate committee, or entity (business, organization, corporation, etc.) that paid to provide or paid to present the voter communication should be listed as specifically required, depending on the type of communication.
  • If a political committee, candidate committee, or entity spends or receives at least $1,158 for political advocacy over the course of the election cycle, communications must also include the following:
    • The names of the five largest contributors who donated more than $1,158 over the election cycle.
    • The types of  businesses where each listed contributor has obtained a majority of income over the previous five years, with each business identified by the name associated with its six-digit code from the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
    • For each listed political committee or nonprofit:Their top three funders during the elections cycle must be disclosed. However, if any entity is a small donor committee, the top three funders of the small donor committee do not also need to be listed.

Note: Candidates participating in the City's Small Donor Election Program do not need to include the Program or City on communication disclosures.

Which type of items are considered exempt from requiring disclosures?

The following items are exempt from campaign disclosure regulations:

  • Bumper stickers
  • Campaign signs smaller than six square feet
  • Small items worn by individuals, such as buttons or stickers
  • Flyers or other pieces of literature distributed to fewer than 500 people

Additionally, individuals, entities, or political committees that do not receive or spend at least $1,158 for political advocacy over the election cycle do not need to include disclosures of top five dominant contributors. 

I'm running for office, but I do not plan to participate in the City's Small Donor Election Program. Do I still need to disclose my campaign contributions?

Yes. Code Section 2.10 applies to all candidates running for office in a City election.  See FAQs on Coordination with the Small Donor Election Program for more detail.

I have campaign social media accounts. Do I need to list my funding sources on every individual post?

Funding sources may be listed in a static, easily available biography or profile section of a social media account used for campaign communications. When disclosures are included in this manner, disclosures are not required in the text portion of every communication, such as in every text-based Tweet. However, if you publish a professionally-produced communication (such as a video advertisement, audio, or photo) via social media, different requirements apply and you should list the funding sources for that professionally-produced communication as required.

See the Auditor’s administrative rules on social media and electronic communication for more information and guidance.

My political committee funded a campaign communication with general pooled funds received from various sources. What is the disclosure requirement on these types of communications?

In a situation where there is no particular tie to a funder for a campaign communication, the political committee should list its top dominant contributors as outlined in the regulations as follows:

  1. Political committees or other entities paying to provide or paying to present the communication (this includes all overarching committees or entities) that are funding the communication).
  2. For each of the above’s top five dominant contributors – name and income sourcing.

See specifics in Code Section 2.10.030.

I am wondering if my campaign communication will comply with the City’s disclosure regulations. Will your office review my ad before it’s distributed?

The Auditor’s Office can provide general information and interpretation of requirements. For specific legal advice or formal opinions, all candidates and campaigns are individually responsible for compliance and should seek outside legal advice.

How often should I update my required disclosure information? What about on my campaign’s website and social media accounts?

Generally, disclosures must be current to within 10 business days. Audio and video communication must generally have disclosures that are current to within five business days.

It is recommended that disclosures be dated to ensure timely disclosure. See guidance on which communications require five versus 10 business day updates.

What are penalties for campaigns found to be in violation of these requirements?

For campaign contribution violations, the Charter requires a penalty of two to 20 times the amount of unlawful contribution or expenditure.

In determining the amount due as a civil penalty and factors considered by the Auditor's Office, see the Auditor’s Office Administrative Rule (ARA) 13.03

For violations other than contribution violations, such as a failure to comply with disclosure regulations, the Auditor’s Office may issue a penalty up to $3,000 per violation. If the Auditor’s Office finds reason to believe the subjects of the complaint put for a good faith effort to comply with Code Section 2.10, the City Auditor may, upon first offense, issue a letter of education and warning and/or include requirements for additional training.

I am not affiliated with a campaign. However, I want to produce communication pieces supporting my preferred candidate or opposing other candidates. Do I need to comply with the regulations in City Code 2.10?

Yes. Code Section 2.10 states, “Each Communication to voters related to a City of Portland Candidate Election shall Prominently Disclose the true original sources of the Contributions and/or Independent Expenditures used to fund the Communication.”

ORS 260.005(10) defines independent expenditure as “an expenditure by a person for a communication in support of or in opposition to a clearly identified candidate or measure that is not made with the cooperation or with the prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate or any agent or authorized committee of the candidate, or any political committee or agent of a political committee supporting or opposing a measure….”

Note: In accordance with ARA 13.04 (A)(3), entities and individuals only need to disclosures of dominant contributors if they have received or spent at least $1,158 for political advocacy during the election cycle.

For independent expenditures providing a campaign communication in City candidate elections:

For each of the largest five dominant independent spenders paying to provide or paying to present a communication, the communication must disclose:

a.  The name of the individual or entity providing the independent expenditure.

b.  The types of businesses from which the maker of the independent expenditure has obtained a majority of income over the previous five years, with each business identified by the name associated with its six-digit code from the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Any person or entity expending funds to produce communication related to a City of Portland candidate election must comply with the regulations set forth in Code Section 2.10.

Note: In accordance with ARA 13.04 (A)(3), entities and individuals only need to disclosures of dominant contributors if they have received or spent at least $1,158 for political advocacy during the election cycle.

I do not accept campaign contributions from entities, and I only accept contributions less than $579. What am I required to disclose on my communication?

Code Section 2.10.030 requires communication to voters to include the names of any political committees (or other entities) that paid to provide or paid to present the communication. Even if a candidate’s principal campaign committee does not have dominant contributors, that candidate must still disclose their political committee if sufficient funds for the communication come from the committee.

For further State Law requirements on disclosures, check the Secretary of State's Elections Division website.

If no political committee or entity is involved in presenting the communication, no disclosure is required.

What is considered “professionally-produced content” requiring disclosure information within the content itself?

ARA 13.04(B)(2)(a) specifies that professionally-produced content “may include, but is not limited to, content developed by professionals specifically hired to produce the content or content developed with the use of specialized editing or expertise.”

Although the Auditor’s office is not specifically monitoring campaign use of professional services to create and publish content, if there are questions about whether something is professionally produced, the Elections Office encourages full disclosure.

Political committees and other entities that produce City candidate communication have to disclose their top five dominant contributors if they spend or receive at least $1,158 for political advocacy. What is political advocacy?

Political advocacy is supporting or opposing a candidate, measure, or political party. If a political committee or entity spends or receives at least $1,158 over the course of the election cycle for the purposes of supporting or opposing a candidate, measure, or political party, then they must list their top five dominant contributors on any communication related to City candidate elections. This aggregate cost includes the cost of the communication being produced in the above question.


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