2022 State Elections Toolkit
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Key Takeaways:

  • While the federal government has banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in one form or another since 1907, the states are still remarkably split on permitting corporate contributions to state and local candidates.
  • Twenty nine states and the District of Columbia permit corporate contributions to state and local candidates.
  • Knowledge of contribution limits placed on corporate donors is instrumental to any corporate political giving strategy. In addition to knowing the legality of corporate contributions, corporations also need to be mindful of the contribution limits placed on these kinds of political donations.

Corporate contributions to political candidates get a bad rap from both sides of the political aisle. The federal government has banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in one form or another since Tillman Act in 1907, but even 115 years after the first ban on corporate contributions was passed in Congress, the states are still remarkably split on permitting corporate contributions to state and local candidates. 

States Allowing Corporate Contributions

Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia permit corporate contributions to state and local candidates within statutory contribution limits. States permitting and prohibiting corporate contributions are illustrated in the map below.

Contribution Limits Matter

Of course, it’s not as simple as which states permit corporate contributions and which do not. In addition to knowing the legality of corporate contributions, corporations also need to be mindful of the contribution limits placed on these kinds of political donations. 

Only five states (Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia) permit corporations to donate unlimited sums of money to candidates. The remaining 24 states limit the amount of money that corporations may give. These limits may be either based on:

  • Election (e.g., corporations can donate $3,000 to a statewide candidate in Florida in both the primary and general elections); 

  • Election cycle (e.g., corporations can donate $6,000 to a statewide candidate in Hawaii for a two or four year period between elections); or, 

  • Year (e.g., corporations can donate $5,000 in aggregate to statewide candidates in Indiana each calendar year). 

Exceeding the contribution limit can have various implications for the corporate entity, including criminal penalties so it’s incredibly important to know not only whether the corporation can contribute but you should also know how much and with what frequency the corporation can contribute.

Need Help?

Is your corporation seeking to engage in state and local elections and not sure what your compliance requirements are? We can help. Don’t make illegal contributions — reach out to our team with questions