Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Contributor & Third Party Restrictions

Persons wishing to make contributions to City candidates must be sure to comply with applicable contribution limits and prohibitions.  Most notably, City candidates may not accept contributions from corporations, foreign nationals (without a green card), or certain contractors (or their officers and directors) who are negotiating or recently negotiated a City contract (see below for more details). See SF C&GC Code §§ 1.114(b) and 1.126, and 11 CFR 110.20.

All other contributions to City candidates are limited to $500 per source (SF C&GC Code § 1.114(a)).

A full explanation on applicable limits for candidate contributions can be found in the Commission’s guide for contributors.

Note that contributions to non-candidate committees, including ballot measure committees, are generally not subject to limits unless the contributor is a contractor doing business with the City.  Also, there is generally no limit on independent election-related spending (i.e., not coordinated with a candidate).

Ban on Contributions from Contractors Doing Business with the City

A person who contracts with the City and County of San Francisco, a state agency on whose board an appointee of a City elective officer serves, the San Francisco Unified School District, or the San Francisco Community College District may not make a contribution to:

  1. an individual holding a City elective office if the contract must be approved by such individual, the board on which that individual serves or a state agency on whose board an appointee of that individual serves;
  2. a candidate for the office held by such individual; or
  3. a committee controlled by such individual or candidate.

The ban applies when:

  1. the City and County of San Francisco, a state agency on whose board an appointee of a City elective officer serves, the San Francisco Unified School District, or the San Francisco Community College District is a party to the contract,
  2. the contract or series of contracts in the same fiscal year has a total anticipated or actual value of $50,000 or more in a fiscal year, and
  3. the City elective officer, a board on which that officer serves, or the board of a state agency on which the officer’s appointee serves must approve that contract or series of contracts. The ban goes into effect when negotiations commence. (For officeholders, candidates and their controlled committees, the ban on receiving contributions from contractors begins when the contract is submitted for approval.)

The ban ends when either the parties terminate contract negotiations or six months have elapsed from the date the contract is approved.  During this period, a contribution may not be made from the following persons:

  • any party or prospective party to the contract,
  • the contracting party’s board of directors, its chairperson, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer,
  • any person with an ownership interest of more than 20 percent in the contracting party,
  • any subcontractor listed in the contract, and
  • any committee that is sponsored or controlled by the contracting party.

Restrictions on Contributions to Department Heads and Appointed Officials

California Government Code section 84308 prohibits department heads and members of appointed boards and commissions from soliciting contributions in excess of $250 from persons who are parties to, or participants in, proceedings pending before them, and from making decisions affecting a source of campaign contributions of more than $250.

Section 84308 applies to department heads and appointed boards and commissions. Although the section does not apply to elected bodies such as the Board of Supervisors, when members of an elected body are sitting as members of an appointed body, they are subject to section 84308. But if the entire body is made up of elected officials, as for example, where the Board of Supervisors is designated to sit as the Transportation Authority, section 84308 does not apply. 2 C.C.R. § 18438.1.

The prohibition under Section 84308 applies:

  • while a proceeding is pending before the officer’s agency; and
  • for three months following the date of the decision.

Reporting Requirements

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