The city of San Diego’s Ethics Commission released an opinion today that could curtail how political parties can donate to next month’s City Council primaries.

Political parties can contribute unlimited amounts to council campaigns for the June 8 primary by taking advantage of a window in the city’s campaign finance rules. The local Republican Party, whose lawsuit spurred changes to city campaign laws, has announced it would give $20,000 to Lorie Zapf, a candidate in District 6 running to replace termed-out Democrat Donna Frye.

But the Ethics Commission is requiring political parties to conform to the city’s $500 individual contribution limits. In other words, if the Republican Party donates $20,000 to Zapf, then it would need to identify 40 people who gave $500 to the party.

These rules, Ethics Commission Executive Director Stacey Fulhorst said, are to prevent parties from acting as a “pass through” from donors to candidates.

Local Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric, who committed to making the Zapf donation, said he hadn’t see the commission’s opinion and needed to consult his attorneys before commenting on how it might affect the donation.

“At this point I’m unsure,” Krvaric said. “But we’re committed to our support for Lorie Zapf.”


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