What happens to all the leftover campaign cash?

Election season is over and the “leftover” season is upon us. What are the rules in Oregon on leftover campaign contributions for both winners and losers? Is a new car in the cards for Jessica Gomez?

— Ted K., Medford

There was a lot of campaign cash flying around this election, and Jessica Gomez, who ran for Senate District 3, received $570,066.88 in contributions. She’s got $8,082.67 left in her account, not enough to buy a new car but enough to buy a used one.

But Gomez and other candidates who receive contributions under state campaign finance laws cannot use the money to buy a car for themselves.

Actually, the options for the leftover money are quite limited.

“You can give it to another candidate, to a charity or just leave it in there,” said Debra Royal, chief of staff for the Oregon Secretary of State. “They can’t use it for personal purposes. That would be illegal.”

Over the years, we’ve noticed that candidates sometimes make donations to other candidates, or just leave the money in the account until they decide to run for another office.

So it doesn’t look like Gomez will be able to buy a new car with the leftover money, Ted.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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