Public Campaign Financing

Law

Under Maryland Election Law, Section 13-505, counties may establish their own system of public campaign financing. In September 2014 the Council unanimously enacted Bill 16-14, which established a Public Election Fund to provide public campaign financing for County Executive and County Council candidates. When the Council enacted Bill 16-14 it was the first measure of its type in the Washington metropolitan region and in Maryland.  The Council amended its campaign finance law in 2018 with Bill 40-18, and again in 2020 with Bill 31-20.

The goals of this law are to:

  • Encourage greater voter participation in County elections
  • Increase opportunities for more residents to run for office
  • Reduce the influence of large contributions from businesses, political action groups and other large organizations

The Maryland State Board of Elections is responsible for certifying candidates and generally administering the public campaign financing system.

The County’s Director of Finance is responsible for establishing a Public Election Fund and distributing the public contributions to certified candidates.

The Council is responsible for appropriating funds.  As of January 2021, the Council has appropriated $7.2 million to the Public Election Fund.

To qualify for public financing, a candidate would have to:

  • File a Notice of Intent prior to collecting qualifying contributions
  • Establish a publicly funded campaign account
  • Refuse to accept a contribution from any group or organization including a political action committee, a corporation, a labor organization or a State or local central action committee of a political party
  • Collect a qualifying number of contributions from County residents: at least 500 for County Executive candidates, 250 for at-large Council candidates and 125 for district Council candidates
  • Meet qualifying dollar thresholds ($40,000 for County Executive, $20,000 for at-large Councilmember and $10,000 for a district Councilmember)
  • Not accept a contribution from a resident of greater than $250 per 4-year election cycle.

Only contributions from County residents are eligible for matching funds, which are as follows:

  • County Executive candidates - $6 for each dollar of the first $50 of a qualifying contribution received from a County resident, $4 for each dollar for the second $50, and $2 for each dollar for the third $50.
  • County Council candidates - $4 for each dollar of the first $50 received from a County resident, $3 for each dollar for the second $50, and $2 for each dollar  for the third $50.

The maximum limits on public funds per candidate for either the primary election or the general election are $750,000 for a County Executive candidate, $250,000 for a Council at-large candidate and $125,000 for a district Council candidate. Matching funds will only be disbursed to a certified candidate in a contested election and will not be distributed for self/spouse contributions to candidates running unopposed.

A candidate who wins the nomination after receiving County matching funds up to the maximum for the office during the primary, may continue to receive matching funds from the County up to the maximum amount for that office during a contested general election for additional qualifying contributions received.

Public contributions to certified candidates must be used for primary or general election expenses. With certain limited exceptions, candidates must return any unspent public campaign funds after withdrawing as a candidate, losing in a primary election or at the conclusion of the general election.

Further details on the County’s public campaign financing can be found in the  - ARTICLE IV. PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING. (amlegal.com).

The Maryland State Board of Elections and the Montgomery County Department of Finance provides a summary guide (last updated in June 2021) of the County’s campaign finance law,  County Public Financing Program.

Public Election Finance Committee

Bill 16-14 also established a Public Elections Fund Committee. This Committee must report to the Council by March 1 of each year and estimate the funding necessary to implement the campaign finance system and recommend an appropriation for the Public Election Fund for the following fiscal year.

For additional information related to the Committee, contact Naeem Mia.

For questions related to procedures, eligibility, deadlines, and use of contributions, please contact the Public Campaign Financing Program Liaison.

2022

January 25: Agenda

2021

September 21: Agenda | Minutes

2020

January 30: Agenda

June 16:  Agenda | Minutes

October 8:  Agenda | Minutes

December 9:   Agenda | Minutes

2019

January 17: Agenda | Minutes

June 18: Agenda | Minutes

September 12: Agenda | Minutes

November 12: Agenda | Minutes

2018

January 29: Agenda | Minutes

September 27: Agenda  | Minutes

2017

October 30: Agenda | Minutes

June 5: Agenda | Minutes

May 15: Agenda | Minutes

February 13: Agenda | Minutes

January 12: Agenda | Minutes

2016

January 11: Agenda | Minutes

February 16: Agenda | Minutes

September 20: Agenda | Minutes

November 10: Agenda | Minutes

December 8: Agenda

2015

April 29: Agenda | Minutes

May 18: Agenda | Minutes

July 8: Agenda | Minutes

September 8: Agenda | Minutes

October 5: Agenda | Minutes

November 2: Agenda | Minutes

December 1: Agenda | Minutes

  • David Scull, Chair
  • Nancy McMahan Farrar, Vice Chair
  • Lee Annis
  • Stephen Whitted
  • William Ewing
  • Lionel Lissom
  • Jaclyn Sackstein