Since July 2013, the Ethics Commission has resolved violations of certain provisions of the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance through an accelerated process and according to scheduled, or “fixed,” penalties. The Commission’s prior “Fixed Penalty Policy” governed that process. At its meeting on February 12, 2021, the Ethics Commission adopted a significantly expanded version of that Fixed Penalty Policy for implementation as the “Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program” (the Program).
The Program is designed to provide accountability for violations of City laws while reducing the amount of time and resources required for a more formal case resolution. The Program does this by establishing a standardized method for resolving an expanded range of matters through a streamlined stipulated settlement with the Ethics Commission, and by establishing a framework of standardized penalty formulas for violations of forty-one provisions of law across three articles of the San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code (SF C&GCC). The Program likewise identifies circumstances under which the issuance of a warning letter is appropriate in lieu of seeking administrative penalties. In keeping with the prior Fixed Penalty Policy, Staff included in this expanded version only those violation types that require little, if any, additional investigation or other evidence to show that the violation occurred. Because these matters will be handled through a streamlined administrative procedure, the Program will allow the Commission’s investigative and enforcement staff to reserve a larger share of investigative resources for broader scope investigations of greater severity, complexity, and breadth.
Because stipulations resolved through the Program apply standardized penalty formulas and may provide summary descriptions of the violation at issue, matters resolved under the Program will generally result in a penalty that is less severe, and in a description of the violation and surrounding events that is less detailed, in comparison to matters resolved through the regular administrative enforcement process. Notwithstanding these distinctions, both the streamlined and the regular administrative processes require action by the Commission in a publicly noticed meeting.
Adopted by unanimous vote of the Commission, the Commission’s Revised Fixed Penalty and Streamlined Administrative Resolution Program operates as a pilot program until Staff’s implementation might result in recommended changes for subsequent adoption through the regulatory process.
For questions regarding how the Program operates, please contact the Ethics Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.