DISCLOSURES REQUIRED BY INDIVIDUALS OR ENTITIES ENGAGED IN THIRD-PARTY SPENDING TO SUPPORT OR OPPOSE A CANDIDATE SEEKING ELECTION TO A COVERED BOARD
Admin. Code Sec. 16.553-3
To provide transparency about persons and entities that spend significant amounts of money to support or oppose candidates for election to a covered board, certain public disclosure reporting is required by third-party spenders.
Initial Statement of Organization
Any person or entity that makes independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more in a calendar year to support or oppose a candidate or candidates for election to a covered board, or makes contributions totaling $1,000 or more to a candidate or a committee required to file disclosures as a candidate to a covered board must file an initial statement of organization with the Ethics Commission.
An “independent expenditure” means an expenditure made in connection with a communication which expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for a covered board but that is not made to or at the behest of the affected candidate or committee.
Campaign Bank Account
Upon the filing of an initial statement of organization, the filer “shall establish or identify” one campaign bank account, at an office of financial institution located in San Francisco, into which all contributions made to the filer or to a person on behalf of the filer shall be deposited. Any funds spent in support of or opposition to the election of the candidate must be deposited in this account prior to expenditure. All expenditures made by the filer in support of or opposition to the election of the candidate must be made from this account.
Filings by Third-Party Spenders
Any person subject to filing an initial Statement of Organization for making third-party independent expenditures to support or oppose a candidate for election to a covered board must file public disclosure statements with the Ethics Commission that detail their campaign fundraising and expenditure activities as noted below. Filers are responsible for submitting these statements with the Ethics Commission until they file a termination statement with the Commission.
Disclaimers Must Appear on Campaign Ads
Candidates for a covered board that pay for certain advertisements – including mass mailings, door hangers, flyers, posters, oversized campaign buttons, bumper stickers, or print advertisements – must include the following disclaimer statements printed in at least 12-point font:
“Paid for by _______ (insert the name of the filer)” and “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
For purposes of this requirement a mass mailing is the same as that term is defined in the California Political Reform Act (CA Government Code Section 81000 et seq.) provided that the mass mailing advocates for or against one or more candidates for one of the covered retirement or health system board.
Exception: Employee organizations that represent employees who are eligible to benefit from the Retirement System. Health Service System or Retiree Health Care Trust Fund are subject to these disclosure and disclaimer requirements provided that an employee organization whose communications are directed solely to its own members shall not be required to
disclose copies of those communications or include any disclaimers on communications to its members.
ETHICS COMMISSION MANDATES:
AUDITS, SUBPOENAS, ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES.
Admin. Code Sec. 16.553-4
Late Filing Fees
In addition to any other penalty, any person who files a paper copy of any statement required by Sections 16.553-1, 16.553-2, and 16.553-3 after the deadline is liable in the amount of $10 per day after the deadline until the statement is filed. Any statement required to be filed electronically filed late will be assessed a $25 per day late fee. The late filing liability imposed may not exceed the cumulative amount stated in the late statement, or $100, whichever is greater. The Ethics Commission’s Executive Director may reduce or waive a late filing fee imposed if the Commission determines that the late filing was not willful, and that enforcement will not further the purposes of the law.
Audits and Retention of Records
The Executive Director of the Ethics Commission may initiate audits of any candidate or any person who made independent expenditures in support of or opposition to any candidate.
All candidates and persons who are required to file statements under Sections 16.553-1, 16.553-2, and 16.553-3 are required to maintain detailed accounts, records, bills, and receipts as necessary to prepare those statements for a period of four years following the election for which they filed those statements.
Any person who intentionally or negligently violates Sections 16.553-1, 16.553-2, and 16.553-3 shall be liable in an administrative proceeding before the Ethics Commission and be held liable for any penalties authorized under the Charter.
Statute of Limitations
Ethics Commission investigations must be commenced within four years after the date on which the violation occurred. Provision of False or Misleading Information to the Ethics Commission: Withholding of Information. Any person who knowingly or willfully furnishes false or fraudulent evidence, documents, or information to the Ethics Commission under these laws, or misrepresents any material fact, or conceals any evidence, documents, or information, or fails to furnish to the Ethics Commission any records, documents, or other information required to be provided is subject to the administrative enforcement penalties provided under Administrative Code Subsection 16.553-4(c).
The Executive Director of the Ethics Commission may issue subpoenas in furtherance of her duties under the Chapter including, but not limited to, audits and enforcement of its provisions.