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Some states have limits on financial contributions to candidates. These vary according to the source of the contribution (individuals, political action committees, corporations and unions) and the office the candidate is seeking. Additionally, in some states, the laws restricting contributions made during a legislative session differ from those addressing contributions made outside that window or on foreign contributions.

What are the limits for individuals giving to candidates?

Contribution limits for individuals giving to candidates vary by state. Eleven states[4] allow for higher contribution limits from individual donors when the candidates agree to spending limits.

What are the limits for political action committees giving to candidates?

Limits for PACs follow a similar pattern to limits from individuals in that they vary by state. Ten states[7] use the same contribution limits for PACs as they use for individual contributions. Overall, contribution limits from PACs range from $180 to $59,900. Some states set limits based on committee type (small-contributor committees, big PACs, mega PACs, etc.).

What are the limits for corporations giving to candidates?

Contributions from corporations are much more strictly limited than contributions from individuals or PACs. Five states[11] have other limits, and Washington places individual limits on in-state corporations and prohibits outside corporate contributions.

What are the limits for unions giving to candidates?

Contributions from corporations are much more strictly limited than contributions from individuals or PACs. Five states[11] have other limits, and Washington places individual limits on in-state corporations and prohibits outside corporate contributions.

Are there restrictions on contributions to candidates during legislative sessions?

Twenty-nine[18] prohibit only lobbyist contributions during session.

What states address foreign political contributions in statute?

Twenty-three states have regulations relating to foreign or out-of-state contributions. In all 23, contributions from foreign nationals are banned outright; in 12 states, contributions from foreign corporations are also banned. Some states have exceptions for contributions from foreign-owned, domestic corporations.

Do states address cryptocurrency as a medium for political contributions in statute?

The use of cryptocurrency for making political contributions is an emerging area of legislative interest. Most states have no regulations on cryptocurrency, although the Federal Election Commission began permitting cryptocurrency contributions to federal campaigns in 2014.

Fourteen states have some sort of regulation regarding cryptocurrency or digital currency contributions. Six states[21] have administratively approved its use. Georgia and Illinois allow candidates to accept cryptocurrency, but no specific laws or rules have been adopted. Colorado and Washington limit cryptocurrency contributions to $100 per cycle per candidate; Georgia and Montana require that cryptocurrency contributions be converted to U.S. dollars immediately to ensure they do not exceed the legal limit.


[1] Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

[2] Mississippi allows unlimited contributions to statewide and legislative candidates; for most other candidates, there is a limit of $2,500, and for state supreme court and court of appeals candidates, the limit is $5,000.

[3] New York’s limit for contributions to statewide candidates ranges from $7,500-$22,600.

[4] Colorado and New Hampshire.

[5] Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

[6] Indiana, Mississippi and Wyoming.

[7] Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia.

[8] Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Virginia.

[9] Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

[10] California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

[11] Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

[12] Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Virginia.

[13] Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

[14] California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

[15] Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee.

[16] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington.

[17] Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

[18] Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin.

[19] Arkansas, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon and South Carolina

[20] Arizona, Tennessee and Washington.

[21] Colorado, Montana and Ohio.

Political action committees are subject to different contribution limitations than candidates. Like limits on contributions to candidates, limits on contributions to PACs vary depending on the source of the contribution.

What limits, if any, do states set on individual contributions to PACs?

Most states—27[22]—do not limit what an individual can contribute to a PAC. Other states typically limit individuals giving to PACs to between $1,000 and $10,000, with a few outliers: Colorado caps individual contributions at $625, Massachusetts at $500 and Louisiana at $100,000.

What limits, if any, do states set on corporate or union contributions to PACSs?

States are more varied in their treatment of corporate and union contributions to PACs than in their treatment of individual contributions to the groups. While 17 states[27] have limits ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, with Illinois ($20,000) and Louisiana ($100,000 in a four-year period) being outliers.

What limits, if any, do states set on political party contributions to political action committees?

Thirty states[31] set a limit between $1,000 and $20,000.

What limits, if any, do states set on PAC-to-PAC funds transfers?

Twenty-seven states[35] have limits on transfers between PACs, ranging from $500 to $50,000.


[22] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

[23] Alaska, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

[24] Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

[25] Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, South Dakota and Vermont.

[26] Indiana and Ohio.

[27] Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and New York.

[28] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming

[29] Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia.

[30] Delaware and Oklahoma.

[31] Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois and Massachusetts.

[32] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

[33] Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia.

[34] Missouri and Oklahoma.

[35] Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana and Massachusetts.

While not all states set limits on campaign or other political contributions, all have some level of requirement that information relating to political contributions or political expenditures be disclosed. The variations are many; below we address disclosure requirements for candidates, independent expenditure groups and political action committees.

What are disclosure requirements for contributions to candidate campaigns?

Twenty-five states have no disclosure threshold for contributions or expenditures on candidate campaigns; everything must be reported in these states. The other states have thresholds that range from $100 to $5,000[36].

Which states have disclosure requirements for independent expenditures and what is the threshold?

Independent expenditures are those made to support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure—but are done without coordination with the campaign for or against the candidate or measure. Forty-seven states have disclosure requirements for independent expenditures with a reporting threshold ranging from $100 in seven states[39] do not define independent expenditures and therefore do not have disclosure thresholds.

Who is required to report independent expenditures?

Most states have similar requirements on who must report independent expenditures. Individuals, corporations and groups such as political action committees must report in nearly every state, although nine states do not require reports from individuals.

What types of reports on independent expenditures are required? When are reports due?

Reporting varies depending on whether the expenditure is made by a committee or a non-committee entity. Fifteen states distinguish between committee and non-committee reports; committee reports are typically due quarterly or annually and include a pre- and postelection reporting requirement. Non-committee reports are typically triggered by the date and amount of the expenditures (i.e., a report may be due within seven days if the expenditure meets the reporting threshold).

States that do not break out reporting by committee versus non-committee groups typically follow a periodic reporting schedule. Tennessee, for instance, requires semiannual reports during nonelection years, quarterly reports during election years, and a pre-primary and pre-general election statement. Seventeen states have periodic reporting schedules. Finally, some states simply require a report for every expenditure over a dollar threshold—Virginia requires a disclosure report within 24 hours of making any expenditure over $1,000 in a statewide election, or over $200 for any other election or when the expenditure is disseminated, whichever is first. In addition to their general reporting rules, many states also have a special-circumstance reporting rule that is triggered in the run-up to an election. For example, Colorado requires a report to be made within 48 hours if an expenditure over $1,000 is made within 30 days of an election. Twenty-six states have similar special-circumstance rules.

Which states have disclosure requirements for political action committees and what is the threshold?

All 50 states require political committees or political action committees to disclosure campaign-related contributions and expenditures if the state’s reporting threshold is met. Twelve states[40] have no disclosure threshold for PACs regarding contributions or expenditures; everything must be reported in these states. The other states have reporting thresholds that range from $100 to $5,000, with Georgia being an outlier at $25,000.


[36] Disclosure requirements for candidate campaigns by state are as follows: $100 (Hawaii, Indiana, Washington); $200 (Mississippi); $250 (Pennsylvania); $500 (Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri [unless a candidate receives $325 from a single source]), Montana [local candidates], South Carolina, Vermont); $750 (Minnesota); $1000 (Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee); $2,000 (California); $2,500 (Louisiana); $3,000 (Kentucky); $5,000 (Illinois, Nebraska and Washington.)

[37] Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington.

[38] California, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Vermont.

[39] Alabama, Indiana and Missouri.

[40] Alaska, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Coordination laws or rules are used by states to determine when a communication by individuals or groups is coordinated with an elected official or candidate. Coordinated communications are generally treated as campaign in-kind contributions and are subject to contribution limits and disclosure and reporting requirements.

The purpose of coordination rules is to preserve a distinct division between candidates and others paying for communications, so individuals and groups don’t circumvent campaign finance laws. Individuals or groups are permitted to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on independent expenditures, so long as it’s not coordinated with a candidate or political committee.

What states have coordination definitions?

Fourteen states define coordination in their statutes or rules and five do so in their independent expenditure definitions or statutes. Twenty-nine states mention coordination in their independent expenditures or expenditure definitions, but do not specifically define coordination. Two states do not mention coordination at all in their statutes.

Some states offer public financing programs for candidates, often referred to as “clean elections” or “matching funds” programs. The types of public funding and who has access to the funds varies by state, although participation is always optional.

What states offer public financing programs for campaigns?

Fourteen states offer some type of public financing for elections. Four of them[45] provide it for state supreme court justices, with some overlap. To qualify for public funding, candidates must meet a threshold number of contributions in each state, ranging from 15 to 1,500 unique contributions; in some states they must meet a required dollar contribution amount or a contribution from a certain percentage of voters in the state.

For more information, visit Public Financing of Campaigns: An Overview.


[41] Arizona, Connecticut, Maine and New Mexico.

[42] Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

[43] Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine and Minnesota.

[44] Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

[45] New Mexico and West Virginia.

Most states restrict the ways campaign funds can be used. Most require that campaign funds be used only for expenditures “reasonably related” to campaign activities. What that means in each state varies. For instance, some states are explicit about the use of campaign funds for child care. States also may define how campaign funds are dispersed once a campaign is over.

How many states have statutory restrictions on how campaign funds can be used?

Forty-four states define how campaign funds can be used.

What uses of campaign funds may be allowed, or may be restricted?

Campaign funds can generally be used for expenditures “reasonably related” to campaign activities, and candidates are restricted from using funds for anything that might be considered “personal.” That said, the details vary by state. Typically, food, beverage, travel expenses and wages for campaign staff are all considered to be acceptable uses of campaign funds. “Personal use” can be challenging to define: Eight states[49] prohibit the payment of a fine, penalty or restitution damage incurred during a campaign. Finally, there are some spending categories that are split. For instance, in California, Utah and Iowa, hiring an attorney is considered a personal use of funds and is prohibited, whereas in Delaware, hiring an attorney is deemed to be a use of funds reasonably related to a campaign.

Which states allow campaign funds to be used for child care?

Twenty-four states have moved toward permitting campaign funds to be used for child care expenses incurred during an election. Fifteen states[51] have approved the use by their campaign finance boards or commissions.

How do states regulate the dispersal of surplus campaign funds?

Thirty-three states have provisions expressly describing how surplus campaign funds can be used. Despite using broadly similar statutory language, states vary on the finer points of their regulations. Thirty-one states[55] allow candidates to use funds for subsequent elections.


[47] Alabama, California, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, New York, Tennessee and Utah.

[48] Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New York and Utah.

[49] Alaska, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee.

[50] Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Montana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

[51] Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

[52] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

[53] Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

[54] Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

[55] Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, South Carolina, Nevada and West Virginia.

All states require some reporting of campaign finance, and that means some entity or agency within each state is responsible for receiving those reports. Likewise, each state has one or more campaign finance enforcement mechanisms.

Which state entity is responsible for receiving and processing campaign finance reports?

Each state designates an agency or office to receive campaign finance reports. Among the most common are the office of the secretary of state, the state board of elections or a state ethics commission. Some states have offices expressly created to field campaign finance reports. In 23 states [60] multiple agencies or offices are responsible for the reports.

Which state entity handles campaign finance investigations and enforcement?

Forty-five states divide enforcement power between a civil agency that can impose civil penalties and the state attorney general or a local prosecutor who can investigate and prosecute criminal offenses. (The civil agency often is the same one that receives campaign finance reports, such as the secretary of state or the state board of elections.) The other five states[61] rely on either their board of elections or their ethics commission to enforce campaign finance law.

For more information, visit Campaign Finance Enforcement.


[56] Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

[57] Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

[58] Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

[59] Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

[60] Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

[61] Mississippi, Montana, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

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