A full investigation will generally require the collection of additional documentary evidence as well as witness interviews, including interviews of the complainant and the person alleged to have committed a violation (the respondent). If necessary, the Executive Director may subpoena witnesses to compel them to testify or produce relevant documents.
The Commission may in some cases defer to investigations by the District Attorney or City Attorney. It may also conduct joint investigations with those offices, as well as with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) and other governmental agencies. The Commission’s Investigation Suspension and Parallel Proceedings Policy outlines the circumstances and policy justification for deferring an investigation in certain instances.
After a full investigation is initiated, the Commission makes all final decisions on a complaint. Staff makes only recommendations to the Ethics Commission.
If the full investigation indicates that a violation has occurred, the Executive Director may settle the matter and ask the Commission to approve a written settlement ordering the respondent(s) to pay an administrative fine or take other remedial action.
If there is no settlement, the Executive Director will begin the hearing process by seeking a finding by the Commission that probable cause exists to believe a violation has occurred.
The Commission may also decide to close a case for lack of sufficient evidence or other reasons. The Commission may send warning letters, if appropriate, in these instances depending upon the facts of the case.