Can’t Get There from Here? The First Public Funds Payment is May 13

The primary election is on June 25.  Chances are you’re ramping up your campaign and spending money on petitioning and visibility.  It sure would be nice to get public funds now, but they’re not coming until May 13 at the earliest.  So, what should you do? Well, you have options, but each comes with compliance considerations. 

Going Back to Well-Off Contributors

Let’s start with the most obvious; aggressive fundraising.  You probably have supporters from your district who have given you $100, $150 or $250.  Going back to proven donors to pay for specific efforts in your campaign might seem like the low hanging fruit.  But hold on.  Remember, a matchable contribution becomes non-matchable when a contributor from your district exceeds $250 in aggregate donations.  The Public Campaign Finance Board will flag it and deny your campaign the matching funds, a potential loss of $2,300. 

If you need to go back to contributors with the potential to make additional large contributions, start with your out-of-district supporters.  Those contributions were never matchable anyway.  Just remember your contribution limit, $5,000 for Senate and $3.000 for Assembly per election. 

Bridge Loans

Another option is to obtain a bridge loan until you get your expected public funds.  Loans are permitted.  HOWEVER, the portions of loans that are not repaid by election day are considered contributions. If you don’t receive the expected public funds and have a large loan repayment outstanding, you will be penalized.  

The PCFB has not published guidance on penalty assessments, but if the unpaid loan is large enough, they may consider it a “fundamental breach of certification for participation” in the Program.  That would permanently disqualify you from receiving public funds and trigger a demand for repayment of any public funds you may have received, along with other penalties.  If you obtain a loan in anticipation of receiving public funds, proceed with caution, and understand the risks going in. 

Loans must be formalized in a loan agreement between the campaign and the lender and executed at the time the loan is made.  The agreement must contain all the terms of the loan.  Of course, the loan and repayments must be disclosed in your financial disclosure statements. 


Senate Bill 7564, passed by the legislature this past summer, would have set earlier public funds payment dates,. But the bill was vetoed by the Governor.  So we’re stuck with a first possible payment date of May 13, just 43 days before the primary.  Whatever you do to tide you over until then, make sure you do it with an eye towards compliance. 


Leo Glickman