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Campaign Finance Guide
Section 4: Contributions

What is a Contribution?
(DC Official Code § 1-1101.01(6)(A))

A contribution is any gift or transfer of money, goods or services, a subscription (including any assessment, fee, or membership dues), loan (except a loan made in the regular course of business by a business engaged in the business of making loans), or anything of value, made for the purpose of financing, directly or indirectly, the election campaign of a candidate or any operations of a political committee involved in such a campaign, to obtain signatures on any initiative, referendum or recall measure, or to bring about the ratification or defeat of any initiative, referendum, or recall measure.

Contribution Limits
(DC Official Code §1-1131.01)

Individuals, partnerships, committees, corporations, and labor organizations may make contributions in support of or in opposition to candidates for nomination or election to office. Contributors must be knowledgeable of the limits imposed by the Act on contributions. Contributions made to support or oppose initiative or referendum measures, are unaffected by the limits. Political committees are limited to contributions of $5,000.00 from any one source in any one election (including primary and general elections, but excluding special elections). Notwithstanding the foregoing, contributions to a candidate’s principal campaign committee are treated as contributions to the candidate and subject to the individual candidate contribution limitations.

No person may contribute to the support of an individual’s campaign for nomination as a candidate or election to public office, including both the primary and general elections or special elections, amounts exceeding:

  • $2,000 for Mayor, Shadow Senator and Shadow Representative
  • $1,500 for Chairman of the Council
  • $1,000 for an At-Large Council member
  • $500 for President of the Board of Education, At-Large Member, Board of Education, or for a Ward Council member
  • $200 for a member of the Board of Education elected from a school district or for an official of a political party
  • $25 for a member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission
  • Unlimited for the purposes of contributions made to support or oppose initiative or referendum measures.

No person may make contributions in any one election, for the Mayor, Shadow Senator or Shadow Representative, the Chairman of the Council, any member of the Council and each member of the Board of Education (including primary and general elections, but excluding special elections) which, when totaled with all other contributions made by that person in that election to candidates and political committees, exceeds the total sum of $8500.00.

Candidate's Contributions to Their Own Campaign

There are no limits to what candidates can contribute financially to their own campaigns as long as candidates use their own money, and report the contributions made from personal funds.

Rules Concerning Contributions Made by Partnerships
(DC Official Code § 1-1131.02)

All contributions made by partnerships must be attributed to both the partnership and to each partner, on the Report of Receipts and Expenditures. A partner’s contribution must be attributed as follows:

  • In direct proportion to the partner’s share of the partnership profits, according to instructions which must be provided by the partnership to the political committee or candidate; or
  • By agreement of the partners, as long as only the profits of the partners to whom the contributions are attributed are reduced (or losses increased) in proportion to the contribution attributed to each of them. Contributions by a partnership or by a partner may not exceed the limitations on contributions as prescribed by DC Official Code, Section 1-1131.02. No portion of such contribution may be made from the profits of a corporation that is a partner.

Corporate Contributions
(DC Official Code § 1-1101.01(8))

Contributions from corporations to political campaigns are allowed in the District of Columbia. However, a corporation, its subsidiaries, and all political committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by the corporation and its subsidiaries share a single contribution limitation for purposes of the contribution limits imposed by DC Official Code § 1-1131.01.

In-Kind Contributions
(DC Official Code § 1-1101.01(6)(A))

A contribution of goods, services or property offered free or at less than the usual and normal charge, or payments by a third party for goods and services are in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions must be valued at the current local fair Market Value at the time of the contribution. In-kind contributions (i.e., goods and services provided to a political committee or candidate) are treated as any other contribution and are subject to contribution limits. In-kind contributions must be reported and itemized under the appropriate category of receipts.

Itemized and Unitemized Contributions
(DC Official Code §§ 1-1102.01 and 1-1102.06)

Contributions of each person who has made one (1) or more contributions in the aggregate of $50.00 or more to a political committee or candidate within a calendar year must be itemized on a Report of Receipts and Expenditures. In addition, the total sum of individual contributions of less than $50.00 made during a reporting period must be reported on a Report of Receipts and Expenditures.

Things to Remember

  • The Campaign Finance Act imposes limits on contributions made in support of candidates for nomination or election to office, and to political committees.
  • Contributions made to support or oppose initiative or referendum measures are unaffected by the limits.
  • Corporations may make political contributions in the District of Columbia.