California Proposition 208, Campaign Contribution and Spending Limits (1996)
A successful lawsuit was filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 208. A federal district judge declared it unconstitutional, so its provisions did not go into effect.
If Proposition 208 had gone into effect, it would have:
- Limited the amount of campaign contributions that an individual or group could make to a candidate for state and local elective office.
- Prohibited lobbyists from making contributions.
- Established voluntary campaign spending limits.
- Limited when campaign fund-raising may occur.
- Established penalties for violations of the measure and increased penalties for existing campaign law violations.
In 2000, voters passed California Proposition 34 (2000). Proposition 34 was regarded as an attempt to accomplish what the unconstitutional Proposition 208 had set out to do, but with significantly more lenient limits on campaign donations. Ross Johnson, who later became the chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, apologized in 2009 for his advocacy in 2000 of Proposition 34.
Text of measure
The official ballot summary that appeared on the ballot said:
- Limits a contributor's campaign contributions per candidate to $100 for districts of less than 100,000, $250 for larger districts, and $500 for statewide elections. Committees of small contributors can contribute twice the limit. Contribution limits approximately double for candidates who agree to limit spending. Limits total contributions from political parties, businesses, unions and others. Prohibits transfers between candidates.
- Limits fundraising to specified time before election.
- Prohibits lobbyists from making and arranging contributions to those they influence.
- Requires disclosure of top contributors on ballot measure advertising.
- Increases penalties under Political Reform Act.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office provided an estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact for Proposition 206. That estimate was:
- Adoption of this measure would result in costs to state and local governments for implementation and enforcement of new campaign finance limitations in the range of up to $4 million annually.
- The measure would result in unknown, but probably not significant, additional state and local election costs.
- Official Voter Guide to Proposition 208
- Full text of Proposition 208
- November 5, 1996 California election results (PDF)
- PDF of the paper version of the November 5, 1996 Ballot Propositions Voter Guide
- League of Women Voters analysis