Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Reporting Instructions for Independent Expenditure Advertisements featuring Local Candidates for City Elective Office

Effective December 20, 2019, any committee required by law to file a late expenditure report (FPPC Form 496) in connection with an advertisement (e.g., billboard advertisement, flyer, poster, or mailing) that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for City elective office must include the itemized costs attributed to the candidate, including but not limited to photography, design, production, printing, distribution, and postage (in additional to the general description of the expenditure required under state law). The itemization should include the name of the vendor and the cost of each service or item provided by the vendor.

To comply with this requirement, committees must disclosure this additional information using one of the following three options:

Option A.  Include the itemized costs in the “Description of Expenditure” field under section 2 of the Form 496; OR

Option B.  Include the itemized costs in the “additional comments” section of the Form 496; OR

Option C.  Include the itemized costs in an appropriately labeled document in PDF format that is attached to the Form 496 filing in Netfile or a compatible third-party system.

Please note: Filers who do not know the actual costs associated with an independent expenditure when they file Form 496 may provide a good faith estimate, provided that they amend the form within 48 hours of receiving more information about the actual costs of the independent expenditure. Additionally, media submissions pursuant to Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.161(b) (e.g., mass mailing communication, print advertisement; video and audio advertisement including transcripts) must be attached to the corresponding filing within the NetFile system or a compatible third-party system. The Ethics Commission has prepared guidelines describing the electronic formatting specifications that represent the minimum and suggested quality for media submission to ensure communications are clear and legible and will successfully transmit to the Ethics Commission.

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).

Reporting Examples

Scenario:

A committee makes a $2,000 independent expenditure to support a single local candidate 90 days before the candidate’s election. The committee must file a Form 496 with the Ethics Commission within 24 hours after the expenditure is made and must include the itemized costs attributed to the candidate for City elective office.

Reporting Option A:

2.  Independent Expenditures Made Attach additional information on appropriately labeled contribution sheets
DateDescription of ExpenditureAmount
12/20/2019Mailing – Spotlight Printing, graphic design, $750; Kinkos, printing, $500; USPS, postage, $750$2,000.00

Reporting Option B:

2.  Independent Expenditures Made Attach additional information on appropriately labeled contribution sheets
DateDescription of ExpenditureAmount
12/20/2019Mailing$2,000.00
Additional Comments Section of Form 496

12/20/2019 Mailing: Spotlight Printing, graphic design, $750; Kinkos, printing, $500; USPS, postage, $750.

Reporting Option C:

2.  Independent Expenditures Made Attach additional information on appropriately labeled contribution sheets
DateDescription of ExpenditureAmount
12/20/2019Mailing$2,000.00

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