Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Committee Reporting Requirements

State Requirements

Political committees are required to file reports disclosing the money that they raise and spend on an FPPC Form 460.  Generally, state law requires committees to file these reports semi-annually on January 31 and July 31 of each year.  Committees may also have to file two pre-election reports if they are active in a given election.  Ballot measure committees must also file reports on April 30 and September 30 during any year that a measure, supported or opposed by the committee, is not on the ballot.  Committees that spend funds during the signature gathering period may have additional filing requirements as discussed below.

In addition to the FPPC Form 460, committees may be required to file the following supplemental campaign statements: FPPC Forms 462, 465, 496, 497 and 511; and SFEC Forms 113, 162 and 163.

24-Hour Contribution and Expenditure Reports

During the period that begins 90 days before the election and covers through the date of the election, 24-hour reports are required when a committee makes receives or makes contributions of $1,000 or more OR makes independent expenditures of $1,000 or more affecting a single candidate or measure.  If the filing deadline falls on a weekend, the report will be due the next business day, except when the filing deadline falls on the weekend immediately preceding an election.

FPPC Form 496 Late Independent Expenditure Report

An independent expenditure is an expenditure that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or the qualification, passage or defeat of a clearly identified measure, or taken as a whole and in context, unambiguously urges a particular result in an election but which is not made to or at the behest of the affected candidate or measure.

When a person (including a committee) makes independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more per candidate or measure during the 90 days prior to an election or on the date of the election, FPPC Form 496 must be filed within 24 hours.  A committee must file the Form 496 Late Independent Expenditure Report in electronic format (Exception: Only state committees may file Form 496 in paper format).

If the Form 496 relates to a candidate for City Elective office, the committee must also submit a copy of the communication along with the Form 496 filing.  The corresponding communication must be filed by email or personal delivery (the communication must reference the Form 496 report number to which it relates).

FPPC Form 497 Late Contribution Report

Contributions totaling $1,000 or more from a single source made to or received by candidate committees or primarily formed committees during the 90 days prior to an election, as well as on election day, must be reported on FPPC Form 497 within 24 hours.

The Form 497 must be electronically filed as follows:

A primarily formed ballot measure committee or a primarily formed candidate committee must file Form 497 when it receives contributions that total in the aggregate $1,000 or more from a single source during the 90 days before the election, including the date of the election.  When reporting a non-monetary contribution, the Form 497 is due within 48 hours of receiving the non-monetary contribution.

A general purpose committee must file Form 497 when it makes contributions that total in the aggregate $1,000 or more to a candidate or a committee primarily formed to support a candidate(s) or ballot measure(s) during the 90 days before the candidate’s or measure’s election, including the date of the election.

In addition, a committee must file Form 497 when it makes contributions that total $1,000 or more to a state or county political party committee during the 90 days before any state election, including the date of the election.

Also, under a new state law effective January 1, 2018, certain committees must file the Form 497 when making contributions totaling $5,000 to support or oppose a local ballot measure or referendum. Further information available at http://www.fppc.ca.gov/the-law/recent-changes-to-the-political-reform-act.html.

FPPC Form 462 Verification of Independent Expenditures Report

FPPC Form 462 is required to be filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission within 10 days of making an independent expenditure that totals $1,000 or more in a calendar year to support or oppose a candidate or measure. A candidate or measure is listed only once for each election.

FPPC Form 511 Paid Spokesperson Report

FPPC Form 511 is required to be filed with the SF Ethics Commission if either of the following expenditures is made to a spokesperson:

The committee makes expenditures totaling $5,000 or more to an individual for his or her appearance in a printed, televised, or radio advertisement, or in a telephone message, that supports or opposes the qualification, passage or defeat of a state or local ballot measure; or

The committee makes expenditures of any amount to an individual for his or her appearance in a printed, televised, or radio advertisement, or in a telephone message, that supports or opposes the qualification, passage, or defeat of a state or local ballot measure and the advertisement states or suggests that the individual is a member of an occupation that requires licensure, certification, or other specialized, documented training as a prerequisite to engage in that occupation.

Notification to Donors of $5,000 or more

Committees that receive one or more contributions totaling $5,000 or more in a calendar year from an individual or entity must send the contributor written notice that they may have a filing obligation.

Generally, the notice must be mailed, faxed or emailed to the contributor within two weeks of receiving contributions totaling $5,000 or more. But, if a contribution of $10,000 or more is received in the 90 days prior to the election, or on the date of the election, the notice must be sent to the contributor within one week. A copy of each notice or a record of all notices showing the date sent and the name and address of the person receiving the notice must be retained.

You do not need to send the notice again for subsequent contributions received from the same contributor in the same calendar year. In addition, the notice is not required to be sent if the source of the contribution is a candidate, officeholder, or an existing committee because they already are required to file campaign statements.

The notice may be tailored as long as it contains language substantially similar to the language below:

“If your contribution(s) to this committee and to other California state or local committees total(s) $10,000 or more in a calendar year, California law requires you to file a Major Donor Committee Campaign Statement (Form 461). The deadline and location for filing this statement will depend upon the timing and type of contribution(s) you have made. For additional information, contact the SF Ethics Commission at 415-252-3100.”

FPPC Manuals and Filing Schedules

The Fair Political Practices Commission has produced filing charts which set forth specific requirements and deadlines for each type of committee.  Complete information about committee reporting requirements are set forth in the FPPC’s manuals for general purpose committees, “primarily formed” candidate committees, and ballot measure committees.

Local Requirements

Disclosure During Signature Gathering Periods

Local law requires any committee that raises or spends funds to support or oppose a recall, initiative or referendum petition to file campaign disclosure statements during periods in which signatures are gathered. A committee is required to file campaign disclosure statements during signature gathering periods if it is any of the following:

• A committee primarily formed to support or oppose the qualification of a measure; or

• A recipient committee that is a proponent of a recall, initiative or referendum petition; or

• A committee that makes independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more in a calendar year to support or oppose the qualification of a measure and that is either a general purpose recipient or independent expenditure committee.

To comply with the filing requirements of S.F. C&GC Code section 1.113, a committee primarily formed to support or oppose a recall, initiative or referendum petition must file FPPC Form 460 during the signature gathering period.  Any general purpose recipient or independent expenditure committee that meets the requirements of California Government Code section 84203.5 must file campaign statements under the same 1.113 filing schedule governing a committee supporting or opposing the recall, initiative or referendum petition as follows:

• A general purpose recipient committee that is a proponent of such measure must file Forms 460 and 465;

• A general purpose recipient committee that is not a proponent of such measure must file Form 465; and

• An independent expenditure committee must file Form 465.

The table below shows reporting periods and filing deadlines that apply to statements filed during signature gathering periods. These filing periods apply from the time that a committee begins to circulate a signature petition and cover through the earlier of the date that the signature petitions are submitted or the submission date under state law.

Filing Deadline Reporting Period
the 5th day of every month covering through the last day of the previous month
the 20th day of every month covering through the 15th day of the month
the 5th day of the month following the end of the circulation period to disclose contributions or expenditures made during the signature gathering period covering through the last day of the previous month

Also, within one business day of the first date that a petition is circulated to qualify a measure for the ballot, the proponent must file a Notice for Initiative, Recall and Referendum Petitions (SFEC Form-113) with the Ethics Commission to inform the Commission that the proponent has begun to circulate the petition. (C&GC Code section 1.113.)

Pre-Election Statements by General Purpose Committees

In San Francisco, the requirement to file pre-election statements may be triggered by payments other than expenditures supporting or opposing candidates or measures.  A San Francisco general purpose committee is required to file pre-election statements during any pre-election period in which the committee makes payments of $500 or more, excluding payments for costs related to the establishment and administration of that committee. Exempted costs include those for legal and accounting fees and other expenses incurred in setting up and running a sponsored committee. (C&GC Code section 1.135.)

Expenditure Dates on Electronically Filed Campaign Statements

Electronic statements must include the date incurred for any expenditure required to be reported on the statement.

24-Hour Expenditure Reports Regarding City Candidates

During the period that begins 90 days before the election and covers through the date of the election, 24-hour reports are required when a committee makes expenditures of $1,000 or more affecting a single candidate. (Note: State law also requires the 24-hour reporting of independent expenditures regarding ballot measures as discussed above).

When a person (including a committee) makes independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more per candidate during the 90 days prior to an election or on the date of the election, FPPC Form 496 must be filed within 24 hours along with a copy of the communication:

When a person (including a committee) makes electioneering communications or member communications totaling $1,000 or more per candidate during the 90 days prior to an election, one of the following forms must be filed within 24 hours along with a copy of the communication:

FPPC Form 496 Late Independent Expenditure Report

An independent expenditure is an expenditure that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or the qualification, passage or defeat of a clearly identified measure, or taken as a whole and in context, unambiguously urges a particular result in an election but which is not made to or at the behest of the affected candidate or measure.

A committee making an independent expenditure of $1,000 or more per City candidate must file a Form 496 Late Independent Expenditure Report in electronic format (Exception: Only state committees may file Form 496 in paper format). The corresponding communication must be filed by email or personal delivery (the communication must reference the Form 496 report number to which it relates).

SFEC Form 162 Electioneering Communications Report

An electioneering communication is a communication that: 1) refers to a clearly identified candidate for City elective office or a City elective officer who is the subject of a recall election; and 2) is distributed within 90 days before an election for the City elective office sought by the candidate or a recall election regarding the City elective officer to 500 or more persons eligible to vote in that election.

A committee making an electioneering communication of $1,000 or more per City candidate must file a Form 162 Electioneering Communications Report along with the corresponding communication, by email or personal delivery (the communication must reference the Form 162 report number to which it relates).

SFEC Form 163 Member Communications Report

A member communication is a communication made by an organization or its committee for the publication, dissemination or communication to the organization’s members, employees or shareholders, or to the families of the organization’s members, employees or shareholders by newsletter, letter, flyer, e-mail or similar written or spoken material, that supports or opposes a candidate or measure during the 90 days prior to an election.

A committee making a member communication of $1,000 or more per City candidate must file a Form 163 Member Communications Report and must be filed, along with the corresponding communication, by email or personal delivery (the communication must reference the Form 163 report number to which it relates).

Communications that Affect Multiple Candidates

Payments for a communication that refers only to one candidate are attributable entirely to that candidate. Payments for a communication that refers to more than one candidate, or also refers to one or more ballot measures, should be apportioned among each candidate and measure according to the relative share of the communication dedicated to that candidate or measure.

Coordinated Expenditures are Contributions

An expenditure is not considered independent and will be treated as a contribution from the person/committee making the expenditure to the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose benefit the expenditure is made, if the expenditure funds a communication that is made at the request, suggestion, direction or in consultation, concert or coordination with the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose benefit, the expenditure is made. An expenditure is also not considered to be independent if the candidate makes or participates in making any decision regarding the timing, location, mode, intended audience, volume of distribution or frequency or placement of the communication (see section 1.115 of the S.F. C&GC Code for more information).

The Ethics Commission has produced its own guides for General Purpose Committees and Ballot Measure Committees which set forth local rules that apply to those committees.  It has also produced a Fact Sheet explaining the electioneering communication” and “member communication” reporting rules.

Recordkeeping

Committees are required to maintain records that will substantiate their campaign reporting.  These records will be reviewed in any audit of the committee. 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

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

Disclaimer Requirements

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