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Campaign Finance Regulations: General Questions

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A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding general questions related to the City of Portland's campaign finance regulations in City 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.


Which provisions of the campaign finance regulations are currently upheld and enforceable?

To find out which specific provisions are currently deemed unconstitutional, visit the Campaign Finance Legal Status update page. For a general overview, see below:

Do advertisements for ballot measures have the same disclosure requirements as city candidates?

Code Section 2.10 regulates City of Portland candidate elections. Ballot measures, whether qualified by initiative, referendum, or Council-referral, are not subject to disclosure requirements in City Code 2.10.

I saw an advertisement for the governor's election, but the candidate did not disclose the sources that funded the campaign. Will your office investigate?

Code Section 2.10 was passed by Portland voters and only regulates City election races. Candidates running for mayor, auditor, or a city council seat are subject to regulations in Code Section 2.10.

Other elections, such as gubernatorial, congressional, and presidential elections are not subject to the disclosure requirements in City Code 2.10.

I saw an advertisement from a candidate for mayor, but the ad did not list any campaign funders. How should I report this potential violation?

If you believe a candidate is not complying with the campaign disclosure requirements, fill out a complaint form or send an email with all required information to elections@portlandoregon.gov. Required information includes: subject of complaint, alleged violation, and any relevant evidence you may have related to the alleged violation. See the Auditor’s Office rule regarding submitting complaints for all information that must be included in complaints.

If the inquiry is a valid complaint, our office will launch an investigation according to the regulation requirements. If necessary, the City Elections Office may contact you for additional information.

Can people submit complaints anonymously?

No. The Auditor’s Office cannot accept complaints submitted anonymously. However, if you want your information to be confidential, please indicate so in your complaint. The Auditor’s Office will keep information confidential to the greatest extent allowed by law. However, some provisions of Oregon public records law may require disclosure of complainant information.

How is this different than other campaign finance regulations that currently exist?

Candidates for City elections must adhere to both state and City campaign finance regulations. Oregon’s Secretary of State is responsible for enforcing statewide campaign regulations, which are primarily disclosure and registration based in the state’s database of transactions, known as the Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting (ORESTAR). In contrast, City regulations are specific to contribution limits and disclosures on certain campaign communications.

To view state election laws or search the public database of campaign finance disclosures, see the links below:

Code Section 2.10 (the City’s campaign disclosure, contribution limits, and related regulations for City candidate elections) are additional regulations that only apply to candidates running for City offices: Mayor, Councilor, and Auditor.

The City also runs a program that provides eligible candidates with matching public funds, called the Small Donor Elections Program. This voluntary program provides matching public funds to qualified candidates in City elections. The program is separate from the City’s campaign finance regulations.

Who oversees and enforces the City campaign finance regulations?

The City Auditor’s Office oversees and enforces these regulations. The Office investigates complaints and publishes decisions regarding alleged violations.

Are there any administrative rules?

Yes. The City Auditor’s Office has adopted the following administrative rules:

  1. ARA 13.01 describes the purpose, authority, and construction of the administrative rules.
  2. ARA 13.02 offers definitions for the campaign finance regulations.
  3. ARA 13.03 offers details on filing a valid complaint, including treatment of retroactive allegations. The rule also describes investigation processes and clarifies penalties and enforcement criteria for certain violations.
  4. ARA 13.04 offers additional interpretation on digital media, social media, and other electronic campaign communication disclosures.
  5. ARA 13.05 aligns the City with state law on when contributions are considered received and clarifies when candidates participating in the City's public funding of elections program are subject to Charter contribution limits.

To view all of the Administrative Rules from the Auditor’s Office, visit the Administrative Rules Page.

Candidates are prohibited from accepting more than $579 from individuals or committees during an election cycle, and communication to voters must include the top five dominant contributions per election cycle. How does your office calculate election cycles?

Although broadly defined by City Code 2.10.080 H, candidates running for city office in the November 2024 general election will all have an election cycle from November 9, 2022, through November 5, 2024.

How do I find out who contributed to a particular candidate?

The Oregon Secretary of State maintains the Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting (ORESTAR) database. Effective January 1, 2007, the public can search for specific statements of organization, contributions, expenditures, and campaign finance activities by candidate committees or political committees. For additional guidance on how to search in ORESTAR, see the Secretary of State's latest Campaign Finance Manual or visit the state’s website.


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