The Seattle City Council approved new campaign finance rules today. Under the changes, candidates for local office can’t roll over campaign funds from one election to the next and can’t start fundraising until Jan. 1 of the year before an election.
Vote was 7-2 with Council President Sally Clark and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen voting no.
Council members said they took the steps to limit the influence of money on local elections and reduce the amount of time that elected officials are fundraising at the same time they’re making policy.
Current incumbents will have 30 days after the legislation is signed to transfer holdover funds to a new campaign without being subject to the new rules.
The state of Washington and 16 other states prohibit state elected officials from fundraising during legislative sessions. Other cities, including Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles, have fundraising windows in place for local elections.
Rasmussen said the legislation did little to address either the costs of running for office or the advantages of incumbents. He also questioned whether it would open the city to a lawsuit for infringing on political speech.
Clark said the changes might encourage bigger checks in a shorter window of time and discourage women and minority candidates who typically rely on more, smaller donations.