Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Reporting & Recordkeeping for Candidates

State and local law impose a number of reporting and recordkeeping rules on City candidates, which require the regular disclosure of a campaigns receipts and expenditures.

County Central Committee seats are NOT considered City elective offices and have different filing obligations. Candidates for these seats should see the Information for Candidates for County Central Committee page.

Campaign reporting

A campaign must file semi-annual campaign reports as well as two “pre-election” reports in the months before the election. These reports are filed electronically using FPPC Form 460.  Candidate campaigns receiving contributions of $1,000 or more in during the 90 days prior to an election must also file a FPPC Form 497 electronically within 24 hours.  (Note that City candidates may not contribute to other candidates, ballot measures, or charitable organizations.)  Most campaigns will file these forms electronically with the Ethics Commission pursuant to a filing schedule established by state law.

Candidates who do not raise $2,000 or more, and who do not spend $2,000 of their own money, will file an FPPC Form 470, which is subject to a different filing schedule.

Cross-Filing Rules: When a candidate or officeholder controls more than one committee for the purpose of election to office, all committees of that candidate or officeholder MUST file FPPC Form 460 semi-annual and pre-election statements each time any committee statement is due (see Cal. Code Regulation Section 18405).

Voluntary Expenditure Ceilings in Races Other Than Board of Supervisors and Mayor

A candidate for Assessor, City Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Treasurer, the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District or the Governing Board of the San Francisco Community College District may accept the applicable voluntary expenditure ceiling by filing an Acceptance of Voluntary Expenditure Ceiling Statement (SFEC Form 128) with the Ethics Commission indicating that he or she accepts the applicable expenditure ceiling. This form is due by the deadline for filing nomination papers and may not be withdrawn once filed. The Ethics Commission will post on its website a list of candidates who have accepted the voluntary expenditure ceiling.

Any candidate who files a statement accepting the spending limit and makes campaign expenditures that exceed the limit at a time when the limit has not been lifted will be subject to penalties.

The voluntary expenditure limits are as follows:

  • $243,000: Office General City Attorney, Treasurer, District Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor and Public Defender
  • $104,000: Board of Education and Community College District

Any candidate committee that receives contributions, makes expenditures, incurs expenses or has funds in its campaign trust account that exceed 100 percent of the applicable expenditure ceiling must, within 24 hours of exceeding 100 percent of the applicable expenditure ceiling, file Form SFEC-134(b) with the Ethics Commission. This requirement applies only if at least one candidate for the City elective office has filed a statement with the Ethics Commission to accept the applicable voluntary expenditure limit.

Within 24 hours after receiving such notice, the Ethics Commission will lift the voluntary expenditure ceiling if:

(1) a candidate seeking election to the same City elective office, who has declined to accept the voluntary expenditure ceilings, receives contributions or makes qualified campaign expenditures in excess of 100 percent of the applicable voluntary expenditure ceiling; or

(2) a person or persons make expenditures or payments, or incur expenses for the purpose of making independent expenditures, electioneering communications or member communications that total more than 100 percent of the applicable voluntary expenditure ceiling, and those expenditures or communications clearly identify a candidate seeking election to the same City elective office; or

(3) a candidate seeking election to the same City elective office, who has accepted the voluntary expenditure ceiling, makes qualified campaign expenditures in excess of 100 percent of the voluntary expenditure ceiling.

If the Commission lifts the limit, the Commission will inform every candidate for that office that the voluntary expenditure ceiling has been lifted.

The provisions related to the raising of the individual expenditure ceilings are considerably different for candidates for Mayor and the Board of Supervisors who seek public financing. These candidates should refer to the Public Financing page.

See S.F. C&GC Code §§ 1.128, 1.130 and 1.134(b).

Other reports

Local law imposes the following additional reporting requirements:

Candidates must file a “mass mailing” report (SFEC Form 161) when he or she sends over two hundred substantially similar pieces of mail supporting his or her candidacy. The report and the copy of the mailing are due within 5 working days of the mailing, unless the mailing occurs within the final 16 days before the election, in which case the report is due within 48 hours.

Candidates must file a “transfer of funds” report (SFEC Form 122) when funds held in a candidate’s committee are transferred to another committee established by or on behalf of the candidate.

Candidates running for the Board of Supervisors or Mayor must file the Statement of Participation or Non-Participation (SFEC Form 142a) no later than the deadline for filing nomination papers. A candidate who is interested in seeking public funds must file this form indicating an intent to participate in the program. Candidate committees must file this form electronically and candidates who are not required to create a committee may file this form in paper format.

Candidates for the Board of Supervisors must electronically file the Threshold Form within 24 hours of receiving or spending $10,000 or more and candidates for Mayor must electronically file within 24 hours of receiving, spending or having $50,000 or more. In a race where at least one candidate receives public funds, all candidates for that race must electronically file the Threshold Form within 24 hours of reaching the $100,000 threshold (Board of Supervisors races) or $1,000,000 threshold (Mayoral races). Thereafter, candidates must electronically file the Threshold Form within 24 hours of each time they spend an additional $10,000 (supervisorial candidates) or an additional $50,000 (mayoral candidates).

Recordkeeping

City candidates are required to maintain records that substantiate their campaign reporting.  These records will be reviewed in any audit of the campaign (audits of campaigns receiving public funds are mandatory). The Commission has published a guide to records that must be collected and retained for four years and guidelines for organizing those records.

Late filing fees and fines

City candidates that fail to file campaign reports may be subject to civil, criminal and administrative penalties. Late-filed reports also trigger late filing fees of $10 per day for paper filings and $25 per day for electronic filings.  In certain instances, these late filing fees may be waived. The Ethics Commission has adopted a policy on late filing fees and waivers. A candidate or campaign may pay late fees on-line with a debit/credit card or e-check.
After the campaign

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