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San Diego city moneySAN DIEGO — A divided Rules and Economic Development Committee Wednesday approved a proposal to limit the amount of money political parties can give candidates and causes in municipal elections in San Diego.

The recommendation, which passed on a 3-2 vote, would hold party contributions to $20,000 for citywide campaigns, like for mayor or city attorney, and $10,000 for City Council races. It will next go to the full City Council for final approval.

San Diego’s old $1,000 lid was struck down by a judge as too restrictive, so there were no limits on party giving for the 2012 elections.

The city’s Ethics Commission had recommended limits of $12,000 for citywide campaigns and $3,000 for council races, but committee members David Alvarez and Marti Emerald said the Republican Party threatened to sue if the lower levels became law.

The higher limits are “legally, the safest way to go forward,” Alvarez said. Emerald called them a “reasonable limit.”

Committee members Kevin Faulconer and Mark Kersey cast the dissenting votes. Faulconer said he backed the prior $1,000 limit and thought the Ethics Commission should be supported.

The item is expected to be considered by the full City Council before June 3, when the next election cycle begins — one year from the next scheduled primary vote for even-numbered council offices.