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Political Reform Act Restrictions on Agency Activities


California public agencies that engage in ballot measure activities need to be aware of California Fair Political Practices Commission rules. Note that these restrictions apply both before and after a measure qualifies for the ballot.

The Fair Political Practices Commission:

  • Requires public agencies to report expenses for communications that expressly advocate or “unambiguously urge” a certain result in an election.
  • Prohibits public agencies from paying for mass mailings that expressly advocate or “unambiguously urge” a particular result in an election.

A public agency “unambiguously urges” a result when either:

  • The communication can reasonably be characterized as campaign material or activity, or
  • The communication is not a fair presentation of the facts serving only an informational purpose when taking into account the communication’s style, tenor and timing. 

See “Documents and Resources” section at right for the specific regulatory language, as well as other resource materials.

Public agencies should consult with agency counsel regarding the application of these requirements in a given situation.



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