Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Preliminary Review

After a formal complaint is submitted, or if the Executive Director chooses to process an informal complaint, Commission staff will conduct a preliminary review to determine if there is reason to believe a violation of law has occurred to warrant a full investigation.  Staff may examine documents and interview the complaint, respondent, and any other witnesses.

After preliminary review, the Executive Director may decide that the complaint does not warrant further investigation for a number of reasons, including:

  • Credible evidence clearly refutes the allegations;
  • The allegations are not a violation of law that the Commission can enforce;
  • The complaint does not contain specific allegations;
  • The allegations in the complaint are already under investigation or have already been resolved.

If a complaint does not warrant further investigation, the Executive Director will dismiss the complaint and shall take no further action, except that she or he may:

  • Tell the complainant of the decision;
  • Issue a warning letter to the respondent;
  • Refer the complaint to another agency for appropriate action.

If after preliminary review, the Executive Director has reason to believe a violation of law may have occurred, the complaint is sent to the District Attorney and City Attorney, who have 10 working days to review the complaint to determine whether either office will pursue an investigation.

Within 14 days of notification from the District Attorney and City Attorney that neither office will pursue its own investigation, the Executive Director will inform the complainant (1) what action has been taken on the complaint, and (2) the next steps for the complaint.

Due to confidentiality restriction in SF Charter section C3.699-13(a), Commission staff is unable to provide any information or status updates to the complainant or any member of the public.

Complaint Investigation

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