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San Francisco Ethics Commission Audit Report: Michael Sweet for District 6 Supervisor, FPPC ID #1244465


San Francisco      
Ethics Commission                   

30 Van
Ness Avenue, Suite 3900
San Francisco CA  94102
Phone 581-2300 Fax 581-2317



I.           Introduction

This Audit Report contains information pertaining to the audit of the committee, Michael Sweet for District 6 Supervisor, Identification Number 1244465 (“the Committee”), for the period from January 1, 2002 through January 31, 2003.  The audit was conducted to determine whether the Committee materially complied with the requirements of the Political Reform Act (“the Act”) (California Government Code Section 81000, et seq.) and San Francisco’s Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance (“CFRO”) and Electronic Filing Ordinance (S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Sections 1.100, et seq., and 1.300, et seq.).

For the period covered by the audit, the Committee received $42,824 in contributions and $37,205 in public funds, and incurred expenditures of $78,976.  The law provides that any candidate who receives public financing must return unexpended campaign funds to the Election Campaign Fund up to the amount of public funds received by the candidate.  The Committee had unexpended funds of $928.75, which it must return to the Election Campaign Fund.[1]

There was one material finding with respect to this Audit: the Committee failed to file Itemized Disclosure Statements for five mass mailings, in violation of S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.161.

II.         Committee Information

The Committee was formed in April 2002 to support the election of Michael Sweet for Member, Board of Supervisors, District 6, in the November 5, 2002 general election.  Dayna Bender was the Committee’s treasurer.  As stated above, the Committee received public financing for Mr. Sweet’s 2002 supervisorial campaign. 

III.       Audit Authority

San Francisco Charter Section C3.699-11 authorizes the Ethics Commission to audit campaign statements that are filed with the Commission.  San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.150(a) requires that the Commission audit all candidates who receive public financing.  Audits of publicly financed candidates include a review of campaign statements and other relevant documents to determine whether the candidate complied with applicable requirements of State and local law.

IV.        Audit Scope and Procedures

This audit was performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards.  The audit involved a thorough review of the Committee’s records for the time period covered by the audit.  This review was conducted to determine:

  • Compliance with all disclosure requirements pertaining to contributions, expenditures, accrued expenditures, and loans, including itemization when required;
  • Compliance with applicable filing deadlines;
  • Compliance with restrictions on contributions, loans and expenditures;
  • Accuracy of total reported receipts, disbursements and cash balances as compared to bank records;
  • Compliance with all record-keeping requirements; and
  • Compliance with all provisions related to the Commission’s public financing program.

V.         Summary of Applicable Law

S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.161: Filing of Itemized Disclosure Statement for Mass Mailings

The Political Reform Act defines mass mailings as 200 substantially similar pieces of mail sent within a calendar month.   Section 1.161 of the S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code requires any candidate for City elective office who pays for a mass mailing that advocates for or against candidates for City elective office to include on the mailing the statement “paid for by ______(insert candidate’s name and street address)” in not less than 14-point type and in a color or print which contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible.  The candidate must also file with the Ethics Commission a clearly legible original or copy of the mass mailing and an Itemized Disclosure Statement within five working days after the date of the mailing.

VI.        Material Findings

S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.161: Failure to File Itemized Disclosure Statements for Mass Mailings

The Committee did not file Itemized Disclosure Statements for Mass Mailings.   From a review of the invoices and receipts, the auditor determined that there were five mass mailings for which the Committee should have filed Itemized Disclosure Statements for Mass Mailings.

With regard to this matter, Mr. Sweet stated that on May 9, 2002, he attended a workshop offered by Ethics Commission staff, at which there was no discussion of the requirements regarding mass mailing disclosures.  Thereafter Mr. Sweet retained a Sacramento-based campaign consultant to whom he presented materials from the May 9 workshop.  The materials did not make reference to the new requirements in section 1.161, which took effect in August 2002.  Mr. Sweet also stated that although the Ethics Commission subsequently sent notifications to campaigns regarding the new requirement, neither he nor his campaign treasurer understood that the requirement was inconsistent with the guidelines that they received at the May 9 workshop. 

Mr. Sweet added that his Committee intends to file the required itemized disclosure statements shortly and that he has asked the consultant to gather the information necessary to make such filings.

VII.      Conclusion

Through the examination of the Committee’s records and campaign disclosure statements, the auditor identified one material finding: the Committee failed to file Itemized Disclosure Statements for five mass mailings, in violation of S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.161.

Audit reports are posted to the Commission’s web site and are forwarded to the Members of the Ethics Commission and, in cases of a violation of law, to the appropriate enforcement agency.

____________________________________                                    __________________

             Shaista Shaikh                                                                                      Date

             Public Finance Administrator

____________________________________                                    __________________

             Ginny Vida                                                                                           Date

Executive Director                                           

[1] The unexpended funds were calculated by subtracting qualified campaign expenditures such as unpaid bills and monthly bank account maintenance fees from the amount of cash that the Committee had on hand on the 30th day following the election in which the candidate was elected or defeated.  On December 5, 2002, the Committee’s reconciled cash balance was $1,073.05.  Thereafter, the Committee incurred qualified campaign expenditures such as monthly bank fees from December 2002 through November 2003, for a total of $144.30.  

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