California Campaign Finance 101
Our last email elicited several questions about campaign finance so over the next few months we will provide you with short briefings about that subject. Today we address direct donations to candidates and committees that can donate to candidates.
From 2011 to 2016, GFC “bundled” donations from individuals to candidates for the legislature. Bundling simply means encouraging donations made directly by donors to candidates. Some of you may have hosted or attended events for candidates at which donation checks were collected. Those are informal bundling events. There are also more formal bundling organizations; e.g., from what we can tell, California Donor Table is a bundler. Bundled donations are reported by the Secretary of State under the donor’s name.
In 2016, inspired by the way organizations like SEIU operate, GFC launched the Govern For California Courage Committee. Committees can collect annual donations and then, under the authority of the chairs of the committee, use those donations to make donations to candidates. The principal benefit of a committee lies in the speed and ease with which it can operate. Bundling is a slower and more cumbersome process. Also, organizations such as SEIU and GFC can charter local affiliates that can each sponsor their own committee, which may coordinate with other committees provided each committee is governed independently. Donations to and from committees are reported under committee names. E.g., so far in the 2021-22 election cycle, Dignity CA SEIU Local 2015 has received two donations and made donations and incurred expenses that you can see here, SEIU California State Council Small Contributor Committee has received 14 donations and made donations and incurred expenses that you can see here, Govern For California Courage Committee (co-chaired by Cathy Dean and me) has received 260 donations and made donations and incurred expenses that you can see here, and GFC Courage Committee – Bay Area Chapter (co-chaired by Mason Harrison and Greg Hirshman) has received 58 donations and made donations and incurred expenses that you can see here.