As we learned at a League of Women Voters Alameda program last year, it’s expensive to run for public office, even in our relatively small town. In the 2016 City Council race, candidates spent an average of $30,000 each, with the two winning candidates spending just under $50,000 each.
Campaign financing is a double-edge sword: on the one hand, it’s a way of measuring which candidates have generated sufficient support among the populace to raise money for their campaigns. On the other hand, special interests can leverage their deep pockets to influence the outcome.
Transparency is the key. To that end, campaign finance laws require candidates to declare all contributions large and small. In California, candidates for all public offices – federal, state or local – must file a California Form 460 several times during the election cycle to document the source and amount of all campaign contributions over $100. In between filings, large contributions must be documented with the filing of California Form 497 within 24 hours. This gives voters an opportunity to factor in the amount and source of all contributions to candidates on their ballot.
Anybody can access California Form 460 and 497 filings on the Secretary of State’s website. In addition, the Alameda City Clerk posts filings for all local candidates on the city’s website.
To enable Alameda voters to better understand the source of campaign funds without wading through these lengthy reports, the League of Women Voters of Alameda has created the following charts which compare campaign funds contributed so far this year by the type of contributor, the location of the contributor and the size of contributions. If you find this information of interest, you can access the filings at the website above to see a list of specific contributions to each candidate.
We will update these charts after subsequent filing deadlines at the end of September, end of October and after the final election reports are filed by January 31, 2019. Please let us know if you find this information helpful and what further we can do to increase your knowledge of the source of funding for each candidate.
Understanding the Charts
The charts show totals of campaign contributions to candidates who filed for office by July 31, 2018. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. A set of charts also tracks contributions to groups for and against Measure K. Another set tracks contributions to General Purpose Committees not directly tied to Measure K. No groups have filed for campaigns for or against Measure F.
All the information for the following charts comes directly from the publicly available California Forms 460 and 497 for the November 6, 2018 election filed by October 25, 2018 as posted on the City of Alameda website.
The data reflect both monetary and non-monetary contributions in excess of $100 from any one source. Contributions of less than $100 are not itemized and are therefore not reflected in the totals except as noted in the Contributions by Size chart.
The total contributions to individual candidates do not reflect amounts spent on their behalf by General Purpose Committees. If the candidates are not coordinating this support, they are not required to include it as a financial contribution to their campaign.
Categories of information in the charts (type of contributor, location of contributor and size of donation) are the same categories used to record the information in the 460s and 497s; we have labeled the categories somewhat differently for clarity.
Location is determined by the mailing address listed for the contributor in the filing forms. If the contribution came from a group, the address of the group rather than its individual members determines how the contribution is categorized by location.
The charts cover only contributions since the start of the current reporting period January 1, 2018. The charts do not reflect contributions to incumbents with campaign committees who reported funds that were raised before that date. Contributions collected by candidates when they ran for a different office and were transferred to the campaign fund for the office they are currently seeking are included in the “political” category.
Where the total of contributions among various candidates or groups vary greatly (such as with Measure K), we have created an inset with a different scale for those with lesser amounts to make it easier to read and compare.