The Ethics Commission is authorized to conduct audits pursuant to the San Francisco Charter Section C3-699-11(4) and San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 2.135. Candidates receiving public financing are subject to mandatory audits (SF C&GC Code 1.150). Additionally, the Commission may initiate additional discretionary or randomly selected audits of any committee, irrespective of whether the committee received any public funds. As an overview, the Ethics Commission’s audit process generally involves the following steps:
- In the calendar year following an election, the Ethics Commission is required to initiate mandatory audits of candidates receiving public financing within 60 days after the date the candidate committees’ first post-election campaign report is required to be filed pursuant to Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.106.
- At his or her discretion, the Executive Director may initiate additional discretionary audits of any committee, irrespective of whether the committee received any public funds pursuant to Section 1.150(a) and the Commission’s authority under San Francisco Charter Section C3-699-11(4) and San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Code Section 2.135. Committees for these audits are selected using an objective criteria method from a pool of eligible committees active in elections during the calendar year. This selection criteria are made public at a Commission meeting, and the list of committees selected for audit is published on the Ethics Commission’s web-site.
- Auditees are notified, provided with information to help them know what to expect during the audit, and asked to provide Commission auditors with all relevant records for their activities during the audit period. Commission Auditors review all relevant records and communicate any audit findings in a draft audit report to the committee for initial response or clarification.
- If the committee provides additional documentation or written explanation that may affect the materiality of a finding, the audit report may be revised. Once revisions have been completed and a committee’s comments or responses have been incorporated, a final audit report will be issued. By identifying findings in which a committee did not materially comply with the requirements of the Political Reform Act (“the Act”) (California Government Code section 81000, et seq.) and San Francisco’s Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance (“CFRO”) (San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.100, et seq), the final audit report provides a written public record of the degree to which a committee materially complied with applicable campaign laws.
- The final audit report is published on the Ethics Commission’s web-site and reports with findings are forwarded for enforcement review and for any further action that may be warranted.