Background

Washington State voters enacted contribution limits in 1992 by approving Initiative 134. The Public Disclosure Commission enforces these limits and has the authority to make inflationary adjustments at the beginning of even numbered years. Only the Legislature or the voters, through the initiative process, can make other changes to contribution limits, such as expanding or eliminating them.

Making Contributions

Donors giving to candidates subject to contribution limits may make primary election contributions up to 30 days after the date of the primary if candidate loses in the primary and the candidate's authorized committee has insufficient funds to pay primary debts outstanding as of the date of the primary.

No general election contribution is permitted after December 31 of the election year from any contributor -- except the candidate using personal funds for his or her own campaign.

Candidates 

  • A candidate may contribute unlimited personal funds to his or her own campaign, unless the candidate registered a mini reporting campaignLoan repayments are limited.
  • Contributions from the candidate's spouse and family members are subject to limits.
  • Any contributions received for an election in which the candidate is not on the ballot or a write-in candidate must be returned.
  • Contributions for the primary election must be given on or before primary election day, unless the candidate lost the election and has debt to retire. Find more information about accepting primary contributions after the election.
  • Active campaign funds may not be contributed to other candidates or political committees. After the election, remaining surplus funds may be transferred to a bona fide party or caucus campaign committee. These surplus funds transfers are reported as campaign expenditures.
  • There are no limits on contributions to local office candidates not listed here.

Bona Fide Party & Caucus Campaign Committees

Bona fide party and caucus committees' limits for contributions to most candidates are based on the jurisdiction's registered voter counts. Legislative district and county bona fide party committees may contribute only to candidates that are elected by voters living within the district or county.

Bona fide parties and the caucus campaign committees may transfer money between themselves without limit, but other political committees contributing to them must observe limits.

Registered Voter Counts & Political Party and Caucus Campaign Committees' Contribution Amounts

Recipient of Contribution Contribution Limit
Bona Fide Party Committee (Exempt) Only from Surplus Funds
Bona Fide Party Committee (Non-Exempt) Only from Surplus Funds
Caucus Political Committee Only from Surplus Funds
Judicial Candidate Prohibited
King Co Hosp Dist 1 & 2 Prohibited
Legislative Candidate Prohibited
Local (County, City, School Board) Office Prohibited
PAC Prohibited
Port Commissioners Prohibited
Snohomish Co Hosp Dist 2 Prohibited
State Executive Candidate Prohibited

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Terms

Cycle = the period starting January 1 after the last general election for the office and ending December 31 after the next general election for the office.

Year = a calendar year.

Per election means each election when the candidate is on the ballot or appears as a write in candidate.

Per registered voter means the number of active registered voters in the jurisdiction as of the previous year's general election.

Non-Exempt Account is the account from which direct contributions to candidates must be made

Exempt Account expenditures are limited to authorized uses set out in RCW 42.17A.405(15) and WACs 390-17-030 and 390-17-060,  Bookkeeping requirements are explained at  WAC 390-17-065.