The Honorable Joseph M. James, in evaluating a PA Supreme Court case and relevant laws which provide local municipalities the ability to legislate in the area of campaign finance, has upheld the Ethics Hearing Board’s authority to enforce the City Code Ordinances on Campaign Finance Regulations, found in Chapter 198 of the Code. 

Here is some news coverage of the case described as “a win for transparency, for common-sense oversight of campaign spending, and most importantly for City of Pittsburgh voters.” Click on the different news clippings to be linked to each source. 

PDF with News Clippings leading to online articles.


Campaign Finance and Election FAQs:

The City requires financial disclosures detailing campaign activity related to the local City of Pittsburgh races for Mayor, City Council and Controller.

Ethics Hearing Board filings provide early snapshots of the reports that are not required to be filed with the County until approximately a week before the election. We use the same forms as the County (Campaign Finance Report, Campaign Finance Statement, Independent Expenditure Report).

EHB General Election Filings:

  • Tuesday, August 15 deadline to cover a reporting period of June 6 through July 31
  • Monday, October 9 deadline to cover a reporting period of June 6 through September 30

Learn more about our filing options below. If you have any questions, please call 412-255-2122, we're here to help!


  1. For candidates – complete and return the correct form based on whether the amount of contributions (including in-kind contributions) received, the amount of money expended and the liabilities incurred each are (a) above $250 or (b) below $250 during the reporting period;
  2. For candidate committees and political committees– (if applicable, a candidate is not required to have a committee) complete and return the correct form based on whether the amount of contributions (including in-kind contributions) received, the amount of money expended and the liabilities incurred each are (a) above $250 or (b) below $250 during the reporting period; and
  3. For candidates - complete and return this total contributions form to detail the name of each contributor and the total contributions made in the current election cycle.
    1. Note this Total Contributions Report “details the name of each contributor and the total contribution made by each contributor to the candidate committee both in the then current election cycle.” Accordingly, continue to add to the spreadsheet or form for each report.

  4. For Independent Expenditures - State Independent Expenditure Report
  5. For Everyone -- Unsworn Declarations (no notary requirement due to Covid)
    1. Unsworn Declaration for Campaign Finance Reports (DSEB – 502R)
    2. Unsworn Declaration for Campaign Finance Statements (DSEB – 503S)  
    3. Unsworn Declaration for Independent Expenditure Reports (DSEB-505I)
  6. For Candidates with No Committee and No Intention to Receive Contributions or Make Any Expenditures Over $250: Waiver of Expense Account Reporting.


  • There are detailed instructions at the end of the County forms. Procedural questions as to how to complete these forms can be directed to our office or to the County. Our phone number is 412-255-2122 and you can reach the County’s Elections Division at 412-350-4500..
  • Reports are due even if there is no activity; in such a case you can file a one-page waiver. Call us to learn more.
  • If you end your campaign or are no longer a candidate, you are still required to submit filings for the reporting period during which you were a candidate. Please inform us that this will be your last report by either checking the box that states “Termination Report” or simply email and let us know that you are no longer running.    
  • Please note that for our purposes, you can leave the field “Filer Identification Number” at the top of the form, as well as the "type of report" box, blank.  
  • All reports must be legible.
  • Failure to comply with campaign finance requirements will be strictly enforced.
  • You may leave the "type of report" box blank.

Tips for completing a fillable PDF form on your computer: 

Due to the fact that certain browsers do not save form contents before downloading, it is advised that users download the form first, then fill it out. Then you can safely save and/or print. 


  • Chrome: Does not save form information after download. 
  • Internet Explorer 11: Does save form information after download. 
  • Firefox: Does save form information after download. 
  • MS Edge: Does save form information after download. 
  • Other: It is advised to download the form first, then fill it out so that information is not lost. 

To download a PDF form, look for the save icon (it typically resembles a floppy disk) either on the top left or right of the PDF interface. The location and icon will differ depending on browser used. In some cases, browsers will not open the PDF in a new tab and instead the user receives a download notification. 

Open the PDF from your download location and fill it out. When done, go to File > Save As > select the location to save the file > click save. 

  • Each candidate and their committee (if any) who are running for the next election. Note, some candidates, such as third party candidates, do not appear on the primary ballot.

  • Individuals or committees making Independent Expenditures
    • Every person, other than a Political Committee or Candidate, who makes Independent Expenditures to encourage or defeat an election outcome, or to advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified Candidate or question appearing on the ballot, other than by contribution to a Political Committee or Candidate, in an aggregate amount over one hundred dollars ($100.00) during a calendar year, shall file with the City's Ethics Hearing Board a form prepared by the Ethics Hearing Board, in physical or electronic form, based on the State's Independent Expenditure Report. Reports required by this subsection shall be filed by dates on which reports by Candidates making expenditures are required under this section.
  • Committees formed to support or oppose ballot issues
    • All Political Committees shall report to the City's Ethics Hearing Board all expenditures to, or made on behalf of, any question appearing on the ballot, in the same manner required of a Candidate Committee, as described in subsection (1) of this section. Political Committees must also report in the same manner required of a Candidate Committee, as described in subsection (1) of this section, all Independent Expenditures made to encourage or defeat an election outcome, or to advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified Candidate or question appearing on the ballot. This provision is in addition to any other filing and reporting provisions of this Code that apply to such committees, their treasurers and chairpersons.

Find voting resources on the local League of Women Voters website here.

And at the state website here.

You can also sign up for reminders from Votes PA below:

Link to voting reminders and updates.

Your voter registration status, address, party, voting districts and polling location can be found below.

Link to PA Voters Services.

In 2021, the even-numbered Council Districts are up for election.

Below is a color-coded map of the nine Council Districts. Click on the map to display in larger size.

Map of council district up for election.

To learn if you are located within one of these districts, find your “voting district” listed with your voter registration information. (Found under “precinct” on your state voter registration info).

City of Pittsburgh candidates are subject to contribution limits that currently match the limits for federal candidates. New FEC contribution limits are in effect. The full chart may be seen here: Below is an image to highlight the relevant column:

FEC Contribution LimitsChart Example

As you can see from the prior FEC chart, limits increased from $2,900 to $3,300 for contributions from Individuals and non-multicandidate PACs. The other donor categories remain the same, with limits of $2,000 or $5,000.

Per Pittsburgh Code Section 198.02, if a candidate, or candidate committee, accepted donations earlier this year, that candidate or committee can now follow up with applicable donors and request up to an additional $400, the difference between the old limit and new.  
Contribution limits are tied to the election cycle. Each election cycle starts the date after the last covered election for the desired seat. For most City of Pittsburgh races, the last covered election is the general election, or for district 5, it is the special election. The election cycle will conclude on the date of the primary election. Then, a new election cycle begins for the few months between the primary and general elections.

The length of election cycles, and thus relative contribution limits, is a matter under consideration for potential revision to Chapter 198. You can voice your opinion about campaign finance reporting and contribution limits here:

Additionally, City of Pittsburgh employees are limited to contributing $100 or $200 to their employer within a four-year consecutive period, as detailed in § 197.04.   

For reporting purposes, the date of a political contribution is the date that the contribution is received by the campaign. Note the following instances are not sufficient to indicate the date of a contribution: the act of pledging a political contribution or depositing a political contribution into the bank account associated with a candidate committee, or expending campaign funds that a political contribution may have been planned for or otherwise earmarked.

Similarly, "stacking" contributions, whereby a candidate accepts a contribution for the primary election and the general election at the same time or during the same election cycle, is prohibited.

A “Public Official” is a defined term and includes those serving in elected and appointed positions in the City of Pittsburgh government.

Elected positions include the Mayor, Members of City Council, and the Controller. All candidates running for City-elected office must file campaign finance reports for the election(s) for which they will appear on the ballot.

The definition for Public Official also includes those appointed by the Mayor, City Council, or a governmental body; as well as and members of Boards, Authorities and Commissions that have the authority to expend public funds or exercise governmental power.

Due to our current Covid-related office closure and temporarily low staffing levels, all reports should be completed and emailed to

Anyone who requires an accommodation for effective communication or a modification of policies or procedures to participate in a program, service, or activity provided by the City of Pittsburgh should contact the City ADA Coordinator as soon as possible but no later than two business days before the event. Hillary Roman, City of Pittsburgh ADA Coordinator,; Remote Ph: (412) 301-7041; Office Ph: (412) 255- 2102 int. 457.

For all other questions, please contact the Ethics Office here.

 A contribution includes:  

  • Any payment, donation, gift, subscription, assessment, contract, payment for services, dues, loan, forgiveness of a loan, advance or deposit of money or any valuable thing, to a candidate or political committee made for the purpose of influencing any election in this Commonwealth;  
  • Paying debts incurred by or for a candidate or committee before or after an election;  
  • Purchasing tickets for events such as dinners, luncheons, rallies and all other fundraising events;  
  •  Granting discounts or rebates not available to the general public;  
  • Granting discounts or rebates by television and radio stations and newspapers not extended on an equal basis to all candidates for the same office;  
  • Any payments for the benefit of any candidate;  
  • Any payments for the services of any person serving as an agent of a candidate or committee by a third party;  
  • Any receipt or use of anything of value received by a political committee from another political committee; and  
  • Any return on investments by a political committee. 

Note: Limitations related to contributions do not apply to volunteer labor hours.  

The City Code Ordinances on Campaign Finance Regulations, found in Chapter 198 of the Code is your guiding document. Note some instructions for completing the campaign finance reports are located at the end of the forms, and certain applicable areas are detailed on the State’s resource page

Please direct questions to

The City Code provides a $50 per day late fee for each required filing.  

Example: If a candidate fails to file their reports in March, or if they file a deficient report, they will be fined $50 each and every day that goes by until the required reports are received (with potential additional fines assessed by the board or courts if the matter is not timely corrected). If the same candidate also fails to file in April, they will then owe $100 per day: $50/day for the March filing and $50/day for the April filing.

In calculating the amount due, do not include the date of the filing deadline. Count every day it is late from the day after the deadlines noted above.  

Submit payments to the City of Pittsburgh Dept. of Finance Cashier’s Office.  

While paying, remember to identify that your payment relates to an Ethics Hearing Board matter.
You can pay online, through the same way the City collects real estate taxes. PAY ONLINE WITH A CREDIT CARD OR ECHECK HERE
You may also be able to pay at the Cashier’s window walk-in hours during the times available for payment of real estate taxes. The Cashier’s Office may be reached at 412-255-2525.
Remember to email Ethics Hearing Board staff of your payment.


Candidate's Campaign Finance Reports

2023 campaign finance reports for candidates and candidate committees filed with the Ethics Hearing Board will be posted in the table below. Remember, these supplement or are in addition to City Controller and County campaign finance reporting requirements. (2023 report will be added soon.)

2023 General Election

Candidates have the option to disclose the financial activities of their campaign in hard copy or through a web filing option.

Campaign finance reports are public records available by request to Ethics Hearing Board staff. Thank you for your patience while the City of Pittsburgh website undergoes updates.