Analysis of Campaign Finance Laws by State

Campaign finance laws are in place to protect our political process from corruption while enabling candidates to ethically raise funds. 

The use of money to influence an election has been a source of dispute since before our nation's founding. George Washington spent $195 to buy meals and ale for voters the night before his election to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1757. The Virginia Legislature soon put a stop to that nonsense.

Campaign finance laws regulate the source, amounts, and use of contributions in elections and required disclosures. These laws cover individual candidate campaigns, political parties, and donors. They also cover third parties paying for political advertisements for or against a candidate or ballot issue.

What Is a Political Contribution?

A political contribution is:

  • A gift
  • A loan
  • An advance
  • A deposit of money
  • Payment from a third party
  • Forgiveness of a loan
  • Payment of a personal expense or service
  • Transfer of anything of value (or a contract or agreement to do any of the above)

Candidates may only accept contributions to influence the outcome of an election, pay off campaign debt, or pay for expenses associated with an election challenge.

Who Can Make a Contribution to a Candidate?

The following entities can make a contribution:

  • A person. In some states, it matters that the donor lives in the state where the candidate will serve in office (see Alaska).
  • Political party committees. In some states, political parties can donate an unlimited amount to a campaign fund. Other states cap political party donations to candidates, usually at the same contribution limit of people.
  • Corporate contributors. Five states allow unlimited corporate contributions; 22 states prohibit contributions to candidates. The rest set a limit on corporate donations.
  • Political Action Committees. PACs enable members to pool their contributions to support a candidate, a ballot initiative, or legislation. Corporations can contribute to a PAC and avoid the restriction on corporate contributions to a candidate. Thirteen states allow unlimited PAC contributions to a specific candidate; the rest set a limit.
  • Other contributor categories can include unions, nonprofits, associations, Super PACs, and more.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has more information on state limits on candidate contributions. You can also follow pending legislation on campaign finance at the NCSL page: 2015 to Present Campaign Finance Legislation Database.

Federal Laws That Have Affected State Campaign Finance Laws

Federal campaign finance laws regulate finances for federal candidates, like presidential and congressional campaigns. State campaign finance laws regulate finances for statewide offices and local candidates. State laws do not need to match federal laws. But sometimes, federal court decisions influence state laws.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the government could not restrict independent expenditures from corporations, labor unions, and other associations. The Court said that restrictions impede their political communication and violate their First Amendment right to free speech.

After Citizens United, some states raised or eliminated their contribution limits for corporations, unions, and associations. Increased finance campaign disclosure laws can reduce the impact of Citizens United.

Citizens United also led to the creation of Super PACs. These political committees can spend on campaigns, issues, and legislation, not candidates.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission that limiting the amount of an individual's contribution violated their civil rights. Some states changed their rules about total contribution limits in response. Some stopped enforcing limits. Wisconsin saw its existing law struck down in court.

What Do State Campaign Finance Laws Cover?

State campaign finance laws vary, but they typically cover such topics as:

  • The requirements for candidacy
  • Contribution limits from people, corporations, committees, PACs, etc.
  • Contributions rules for candidates, candidate committees, political parties, ballot initiatives
  • How often candidates and campaigns must report contributions, and what information they must disclose. (See NCSL for state-specific information on disclosure and reporting requirements).
  • Public financing and associated limits to soliciting contributions and expenditures

Campaign Financial Filing Requirements

Serious candidates — those who have filed and received contributions of a designated amount — must:

  • Appoint a campaign committee. The campaign finance committee form will list all the members and a designated filing agent authorized to file reports.
  • File a Statement of Economic Interests. This form outlines the candidate's previous year's finances.

Candidates must report their finances to the Secretary of State. The timing of required financial reporting depends on the amount of contributions a candidate gets and expenditures made.

Reporting and disclosure requirements may be weekly, monthly, annually, or whenever the candidate gets a major contribution.

Public Financing

Some states offer public financing for candidates running for office. Once a candidate has raised a certain amount of money or gotten enough signatures, they qualify for state funds to run their campaign. States offer this financing to prevent wealthy and connected people from dominating elections.

'Clean Elections' States

These states provide full funding for all political campaigns within the state. Candidates must raise a nominal sum from donors to show they have public support. In return, the state funds the campaign to the amount set for the election.

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont

'Matching Funds' States

These states encourage candidates to limit their contributions and expenditures by participating in a state funding program. This program then gives a percentage of the campaign funds needed.

  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Florida
  • West Virginia

Party Financing

Some states provide public money for political parties. These funds go to conventions, voter registration drives, and related party activities. Taxpayers can contribute part of their tax return to the party of their choice. The amount is small, between $1 and $25.

State Limits by Contribution Type

Eleven states allow unlimited contributions by all donors. Individuals, corporations, and party organizations may contribute any amount to candidates and PACs.

  • Alabama (excluding Super PACs)
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi (except for judges)
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia

Nine states limit contributions by parties, PACs, and corporate donors to the amount allowed for individual donors. For instance, Georgia limits candidates to $8,400 from all 2024 general and primary elections contributors.

  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • West Virginia

All other states have a variety of limits on the amount of campaign contributions to state and candidates for local elections. The actual dollar amount changes every year according to state laws.

Disclaimer: State laws constantly change through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.

State Individual State party PAC Corporate Union


$5,400 state

$6,650 local


$10,400 local

$8400 legislative

$80,400 statewide

Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Arkansas $2,900 Same as individual Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
California $5,500-36,400 depending on candidate

$5,500 city/county

Otherwise unlimited

PACs: individual

Small contributor: $5,500-36,400 depending on candidate

Same as individual

Same as individual




$679,025 governor

$135,775/other state



PACs: individual

Small donor: $6,750 governor


Prohibited Prohibited
Connecticut $250-3,500 depending on candidate $5,000-50,000 depending on candidate $375-5,000 depending on Prohibited



$3,000-$75,000 depending on candidate Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual



Not over $250,000 state

Not over $50,000 legislative

Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual





Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual
Illinois* $6,900/candidate Unlimited* $68,500/election cycle $13,700/election cycle $13,700/election cycle
Indiana Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited



$2,000/all other

Same as corporate
Kansas $2,100/candidate Unlimited Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Louisiana $1,000-5,000 depending on office Unlimited Same as individual or double Same as individual Same as individual



Not over $25,000/year to all candidates

Same as individual Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited


Registered lobbyists limited to $200/candidate



PAC aggregate limits between $7,500-150,000, depending on the candidate

Prohibited Prohibited
Michigan $1,225-8,325 depending on candidate $12,250-$750,000 depending on candidate Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Minnesota Varies depending on office and election period*
Up to 10x individual limits Same as individual Prohibited Same as individual
Missouri $2,000-2,825 depending on candidate Same as individual Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Montana $400-1,000 depending on candidate $2,000-100,000 depending on candidate Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Nevada $5,000/candidate/election Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual
New Hampshire $5,000/election $5,000/election Same as party limits Same as individual Prohibited
New Jersey




Unlimited: all other

$8,200/candidate/election Same as individual Same as individual
New York* Limits based on individual and family donations

Prohibited in primary

Unlimited in general

Same as individual Same as individual, with annual $5,000 limits Same as individual
North Carolina $6,400/candidate/election Unlimited Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
Ohio $15,499.69/candidate/election $874,182.62/statewide candidate $174,371.53/senate candidate $86,798.27/house candidate Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited




Limited committee $5,000/candidate Prohibited Prohibited
Rhode Island $1,000/candidate $25,000/candidate Same as individual Prohibited Prohibited
South Carolina





Same as individual Same as individual Same as individual
South Dakota



Unlimited Unlimited Same as individual Same as individual



Aggregate limits:






$14,400/state rep


Same as PAC

Same as PAC

Unions must register as PACs




Aggregate limits per legislative district* Same as individual Same as individual
Same as individual



$20,000 state

$1,000-86,000 depending on candidate Prohibited Prohibited






Prohibited Prohibited

*All states except Illinois and Indiana prohibit corporate and union contributions or limit them to the same amount as individual donors.

For local offices, contribution limits vary depending on the district's population.

Campaign Laws Change — Stay Informed

Campaign finance laws change, sometimes yearly. If you are seeking public office or wish to contribute to a candidate's campaign but have concerns about complying with your state's campaign finance requirements, talk to an election law attorney in your community who can explain your rights.

Was this helpful?