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California Fair Elections Act Of 2008; Article 7. Legal Defense, Officeholder, and Inaugural Funds   

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(a) Notwithstanding Section 85316, a Secretary of State or candidate for the office of Secretary of State may establish a separate account to defray attorney's fees and other related legal costs incurred for the candidate's or elected state officer's legal defense if the candidate or elected state officer is subject to one or more civil or criminal proceedings or administrative proceedings arising directly out of the conduct of an election campaign, the electoral process, or the performance of the elected state officer's governmental activities and duties. These funds may be used only to defray those attorney's fees and other related legal costs.

(b) A Secretary of State may establish a separate account for expenses associated with holding office that are reasonably related to a legislative or governmental purpose as specified in this subdivision and in regulations of the commission. The total amount of funds that may be deposited in a calendar year into an account established pursuant to this subdivision shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(c) A Secretary of State may establish an inaugural account to cover the cost of events, celebrations, gatherings, and communications that take place as part of, or in honor of, the inauguration of the Secretary of State.

(d) The maximum amount of contributions a candidate or elected state officer whose office is covered by these provisions may receive from a contributor in a calendar year for all of the accounts described in subdivisions (a), (b), and (c) combined is five hundred dollars ($500). All contributions, whether cash or in kind, shall be reported in a manner prescribed by the commission. Contributions to such funds shall not be considered campaign contributions.

(e) Once the legal dispute is resolved, the candidate shall dispose of any funds remaining after all expenses associated with the dispute are discharged or after the elected state officer whose office is covered by these provisions leaves office, for one or more of the purposes set forth in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (b) of Section 89519.

(Added by Stats. 2008, Ch. 735, Sec. 4.)