Section 18680, California Elections Code: Misuse of campaign funds
18680. Every person who is entrusted with money or things of value for the purpose of promoting or defeating any initiative, referendum, or recall petition or any measure that has qualified for the ballot is a trustee of the money or things of value. If a person wrongfully appropriates the money or things of value to any use or purpose not in the due and lawful execution of the trust, the person shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment. The following expenses are within the due and lawful execution of the trust:
- (a) Securing signatures to initiative, referendum, or recall petitions.
- (b) Circulating initiative, referendum, or recall petitions.
- (c) Holding and conducting public meetings.
- (d) Printing and circulating prior to an election:
- (1) Specimen ballots.
- (2) Handbills.
- (3) Cards.
- (4) Other papers.
- (e) Advertising.
- (f) Postage.
- (g) Expressage.
- (h) Telegraphing.
- (i) Telephoning.
- (j) All salaries and expenses of:
- (1) Campaign managers.
- (2) Lecturers.
- (3) Solicitors.
- (4) Agents.
- (5) All persons employed in transacting business at headquarters or branch offices, if the business transacted is related to promoting or defeating an initiative, referendum, or recall petition or any measure which has qualified for the ballot.
- (k) Maintaining headquarters and branch offices.
- (l) Renting of rooms for the transaction of the business of an association.
- (m) Attorney's fees and other costs in connection with litigation where the litigation arises directly out of any of the following:
- (1) Activities related to promoting or defeating an initiative, referendum, or recall petition or any measure that has qualified for the ballot.
- (2) The enactment, by the initiative process, of any ordinance, charter amendment, statute, or constitutional amendment.
- (3) An election contest or recount.
- (4) A violation of state or local campaign, disclosure, or election laws.
The amendment of this section by adding subdivision (m) thereto, made at the 1991-92 Regular Session of the Legislature, does not constitute a change in, but is declaratory of, the existing law.
Expenses for food, clothing, shelter and other personal needs of the trustee are not within the due and lawful execution of the trust.
However, expenses for travel and necessary accommodations for the trustee are within the due and lawful execution of the trust, if the travel and accommodations are related to promoting or defeating an initiative, referendum, or recall petition or any measure that has qualified for the ballot.
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