Home>Articles>Fair Campaign Practices in California

California State Capitol (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Fair Campaign Practices in California

Code of Fair Campaign Practices provides voters guidelines in determining fair play and to encourage candidates to discuss issues instead of untruths or distortions

By Chris Micheli, January 31, 2022 6:41 am

California’s Elections Code provides rules for fair campaign practices in this state. They are contained in Division 20, Chapter 5, in Section 20400 to 20444. Article 1 deals with General Intent and Section 20400 declares that the legislative purpose of Chapter 5 is to encourage every candidate for public office in this state to subscribe to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

The it also the intent of the Legislature that “every candidate for public office in this state who subscribes to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices will follow the basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play in order that, after vigorously contested, but fairly conducted campaigns, the citizens of this state may exercise their constitutional right to vote, free from dishonest and unethical practices which tend to prevent the full and free expression of the will of the voters.”

In addition, the purpose in creating the Code of Fair Campaign Practices is to give voters guidelines in determining fair play and to encourage candidates to discuss issues instead of untruths or distortions.

Article 2 provides a definition of the word “code” for Chapter 5. Article 3 contains the “Code of Fair Campaign Practices.” Section 20440 states that, at the time an individual is issued his or her declaration of candidacy, nomination papers, or any other paper evidencing an intention to be a candidate for public office, the elections official is required to give the individual a blank form of the code and a copy of this chapter.

In addition, the elections official is required to inform each candidate for public office that subscription to the code is voluntary. The text of the code reads as follows:

“CODE OF FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES

There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play which every candidate for public office in the State of California has a moral obligation to observe and uphold in order that, after vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaigns, our citizens may exercise their constitutional right to a free and untrammeled choice and the will of the people may be fully and clearly expressed on the issues.

THEREFORE:

(1) I SHALL CONDUCT my campaign openly and publicly, discussing the issues as I see them, presenting my record and policies with sincerity and frankness, and criticizing without fear or favor the record and policies of my opponents or political parties that merit this criticism.

(2) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.

(3) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any appeal to negative prejudice based on a candidate’s actual or perceived race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, sexual orientation, sex, including gender identity, or any other characteristic set forth in Section 12940 of the Government Code, or association with another person who has any of the actual or perceived characteristics set forth in Section 12940 of the Government Code.

(4) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any dishonest or unethical practice that tends to corrupt or undermine our American system of free elections, or that hampers or prevents the full and free expression of the will of the voters including acts intended to hinder or prevent any eligible person from registering to vote, enrolling to vote, or voting.

(5) I SHALL NOT coerce election help or campaign contributions for myself or for any other candidate from my employees.

(6) I SHALL IMMEDIATELY AND PUBLICLY REPUDIATE support deriving from any individual or group that resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent, to the methods and tactics that I condemn. I shall accept responsibility to take firm action against any subordinate who violates any provision of this code or the laws governing elections.

(7) I SHALL DEFEND AND UPHOLD the right of every qualified American voter to full and equal participation in the electoral process.

I, the undersigned, candidate for election to public office in the State of California or treasurer or chairperson of a committee making any independent expenditures, hereby voluntarily endorse, subscribe to, and solemnly pledge myself to conduct my campaign in accordance with the above principles and practices.”

Section 20441 requires the Secretary of State to print blank forms of the code. The Secretary of State must supply the forms to the elections officials in quantities and at times requested by the elections officials.

Section 20442 requires the elections official to accept, at all times prior to the election, all the completed forms that are properly subscribed to by a candidate for public office.

Section 20443 provides that every code subscribed to by a candidate for public office is a public record open for public inspection. Section 20444 prohibits a candidate for public office from being required to subscribe to or endorse the code.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Spread the news:

 RELATED ARTICLES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.