Political Election Campaign Finance Contribution Limits in the 2008 Presidential Election

As the 2008 Presidential Election becomes even more important with the current financial meltdown, individuals and candidates from cities such as Rancho Santa Fe, California, Del Mar, CA, Carlsbad and La Jolla in San Diego to cities such as San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Anaheim, and Irvine in Orange County, from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara to Ventura and Oxnard, to Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Murrieta and Temecula to Indian Wells, Palm Springs, La Quinta, Palm Desert and elsewhere in the Coachella Valley are having questions about campaign election finance laws and are looking for answers from election lawyers and campaign finance attorneys as to what amounts are permissible to contribute.

The individual campaign contribution limits for all federal offices for 2007-2008 are:

$2,3000 per election for a candidate for a federal office

This $2,300 can be contributed each individual in a married couple as well.

$28,500 per calendar year to a national party committee.

This applies separately to a party’s national committee, House and Senate campaign committee.

$10,000 per calendar year to state, district and local party committees.

$5,000 per calendar year to any other political committee.

An aggregate total of $108,200 per two year election cycle with a maximum of $47,200 per two year cycle to candidates and $65,500 to all national party committees and PACs, of which no more than $40,000 can be given to PACs

Foreign nationals may not contribute to any candidate, nor may any federal contractors. Corporations and labor unions may only establish PACs.

Cash of only $100 may be contributed. In kind contributions count against contribution limits.

Multicandidate PACs can give $5,000 to an individual candidate, $15,000 to a national party committee.

Non-multicandidate PACs can give $2,300 to an individual candidate, $28,500 to a national party committee.

A multicandidate PAC is a political committee with more than 50 contributors which has been registered for at least 6 months and, with the exception of state party committees, has made contributions to 5 or more candidates for federal office.

Any individual intending to campaign for any elected office needs to know election finance rules and should consult with a political campaign finance attorney at an early stage in their campaign decisions.

News Note – Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has set a new campaign contribution record with his announcement that his campaign fundraising efforts brought in $150 million in the month of September 2008. This gives Barack Obama a huge advantage which is reportedly allowing him to outspend John McCain by as much as 4 to 1 in some swing states. The campaign added 632,000 new donors for a total of 3.1 million donors to date. The average donor contribution to the campaign is $86.

Sebastian Gibson graduated cum laude at UCLA in 1972 and received two law degrees in the U.S. and the U.K., graduating with an LL.B. magna cum laude from University College, Cardiff in Wales and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law in Southern California.

The Sebastian Gibson Law Firm serves all of San Diego, Orange County, Palm Springs and Palm Desert, the Coastal Cities from La Jolla and Del Mar to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana and Irvine and up to Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. We also serve the Inland Empire cities of Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula, Riverside and San Bernardino and all the cities in the Coachella Valley

Mortgages and Loans: Islamic Finance Avoids Interest.

Two million Muslims in the UK face an ethical dilemma if they want a mortgage or a loan. Conventional mortgages and loans all require the payment of interest and “riba” as interest is called under Islamic law, is forbidden by the Koran.

British financial institutions are increasingly catering for Muslims’ specialist needs through a number of alternative arrangements that respects the teachings of the Koran. Here are just two of them:

Ijara with diminishing Musharaka – the mortgage alternative.

Ijara with diminishing Musharaka is an Islamic alternative to a conventional UK mortgage and has been adopted by several British banks and building societies.

In essence, Musharaka means partnership. Under this Islamic financial concept, the bank buys the house and legally becomes its owner. Then throughout the pre-agreed period, say 25 years, a monthly payment is made. Each monthly payment includes a charge for rent and a charge that buys a small proportion of the house itself. It’s form of variable shared equity plan with the proportion of the house being owned by the purchaser, steadily increasing as payments are made. Once the final payment has been made, the house is owned outright. Ijara

Here you tell the bank or financial institution what you want, for example a car, and they buy it. In return for a monthly payment that covers the cost of the bank’s capital, the bank then allows you to use the asset for an agreed period. In reality, it’s a form of leasing

Islamic finance is not widely available in the UK – so where can find it? Here are three suggestions:

Over the last few years Lloyds TSB has introduced Islamic products to 33 of its branches. Their spokesperson says, “It’s important for our customers to see that we are following the right procedures. We have a panel of four Islamic scholars who over-see the products. They offer guidance on Islamic law and audit the products”.

Another high street bank, HSBC, is developing a special range of Islamic products under the Amanah brand name. This range includes home finance plans, home insurance, commercial finance, and various current accounts and pensions. Hussam Sultan, the Amanah product manager says, “As a bank, we are not here to moralise or tell our customers that Amanah finance is the way to please Allah. We’re just here to provide them with a choice”.

The Islamic Bank of Britain has three branches in London, two in Birmingham and one each in Leicester and Manchester. They’re the only British bank specifically providing for Muslim customers and claim to be halal throughout their operations. All their financial products are approved by their Sharia’a Supervisory Committee – all Muslim scholars who are experts in all aspects of Islamic finance.

For your interest we show below, definitions of some words used widely in connection with Islamic finance.

A Glossary of selected Islamic words used in finance.

Amanah: Means trustworthiness, with associated aspects of faithfulness and honesty. As a central supplementary meaning, amanah also describes a business deal where one party keeps another’s funds or property in trust. This actually the most widely used and understood application of the term, having a long history of use in Islamic commercial law. It can also be used to describe different financial activities such as deposit taking, custody or goods on consignment.

Arbun: Means a down payment. It’s a non-refundable deposit paid to the seller by the buyer upon agreeing a sale contract together with an undertaking that the sale contract will be completed during a prearranged period.

Gharar: This means uncertainty. It’s one of three essential prohibitions in Islamic finance (the others being riba and maysir). Gharar is a sophisticated concept that encompasses certain types of uncertainty or contingency in a contract. The prohibition on gharar is often used as the grounds for criticism of conventional financial practices such as speculation, derivatives and short selling contracts.

Islamic financial services / Islamic banking / Islamic finance : Means financial services that meet the specific requirements of Islamic law or Shariah. Whilst designed to meet specific Muslim religious requirements, Islamic banking is not restricted to Muslims. Both the customers and the service providers can be non-Muslim as well as Muslim.

Ijara: Means an Islamic leasing agreement. Ijarah permits the financial institution to earn a profit by charging leasing rentals instead of lending money and earning interest. The ijarah concept is extended to hire and purchase agreements by Ijarah wa iqtinah.

Maysir: Means gambling. It’s another of three fundamental prohibitions in Islamic finance (the other two being riba and gharar). The prohibition of maysir is often used as the basis for criticism of standard financial practices such as conventional insurance, speculation and derivative contracts.

Mudarabah: A Mudarabah is a form of Investment partnership. Here, capital is provided by the investor (the Rab ul Mal) to another party (the Mudarib) in order to undertake a business or investment activity. Profits are then shared according to pre-arranged proportions but any loss on the investment is born exclusively by the investor and the mudarib then loses the expected income share.

Mudarib: The mudarib is the investment manager or entrepreneur in a mudarabah (see above). It is this managers responsibility to invest the investor’s money in a project or portfolio in exchange for a share of the profits. A mudarabah is essentially similar to a diversified pool of assets held in a conventional Discretionary Managed Investment Portfolio.

Murabaha: means purchase and resale. As opposed to lending money, the capital provider purchases the required asset or product (for which a loan would otherwise have been taken out) from a third party. The asset is then resold at a higher price to the capital user. By paying this higher price by instalments, the capital user effectively gets credit without paying interest. (Also see tawarruq the opposite of murabaha.)

Musharaka: This means profit and loss sharing. It’s a partnership where the profits are shared in pre-arranged proportions and any losses are shared in proportion to each partners’ capital or investment. In Musharakah, all the partners to the commercial undertaking contribute funds and have the right, but without the obligation, to exercise executive powers in that undertaking. It’s a similar concept to a conventional partnership and the holding of voting stock in a limited company. Musharakah is regarded as the purest form of Islamic financing.

Riba: This means interest. The legal concept extends beyond interest, but in simple terms, riba covers any return of money on money. It does not matter whether the interest is floating or floating, simple or compounded, or what the rate is. Riba is strictly prohibited under Islamic law..

Shariah: This is the Islamic law as disclosed in the Quran and through the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A Shariah product must meet all the requirements of Islamic law. To facilitate this, a Shariah board is usually appointed. This board or committee is usually comprised of Islamic scholars available to the organisation for guidance and supervision for the development of Shariah compliant products.

Shariah adviser: Means an independent professional, usually a classically trained Islamic legal scholar, appointed to advise an Islamic financial organisation on the compliance of its products and services with Islamic law, the Shariah. While some organisations consult individual Shariah advisers, most establish a committee of Shariah advisers (often known as a Shariah committee or Shariah board).

Shariah compliant: Means the activity that ensures that the requirements of the Shariah, or Islamic law are observed. The term is often used in the Islamic banking industry as a synonym for “Islamic”- for example, Shariah compliant financing or Shariah compliant investment.

Sukuk: This has similar characteristics to a conventional bond. The difference is that that they are asset backed and a sukuk represents the proportionate beneficial ownership in the underlying asset. The asset is then leased to the client to yield the profit on the sukuk.

Takaful: This is Islamic insurance. Takaful plans are designed to avoid the characteristics of conventional insurance (i.e. interest and gambling) that are so problematical for Muslims. They structure the arrangement as a charitable collective pool of funds based on the comcept of mutual assistance.