October 16, 2012 •
Seattle Amends Campaign Finance Rules
The Seattle City Council approved a bill last night that changes the way campaign finance will work in future elections. Council Bill 117548 was approved by a 7-2 vote, but it will not take effect until after the upcoming November elections.
The new law changes the definition of election cycle, which now starts January 1 in the year prior to the general election for that office and will end April 30 following the election. Candidates will only be allowed to raise money and accept contributions during the election cycle period. The new law also limits the amount of money incumbents can carry over to the next election. The council believes that this will give challengers more of an opportunity to unseat an incumbent.
Currently, there is no limit to how much money candidates can stockpile, leading most incumbents to create massive war chests to fend off challengers. The new law does not allow any candidate to carry money over past the end of the election cycle. Current city council members have 30 days to transfer their current funds to a new campaign without being subject to the rules. Political committees are also subject to the carry-over provisions.
Finally, the new law also raises the contribution limits from $600 to $700 to candidates for mayor, city council, or city attorney.
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