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SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION AUDIT REPORT:
COMMITTEE FOR BETTER PARKS
This Audit Report contains information pertaining to the audit of the committee, Committee for Better Parks, identification number 991852 (“the Committee”) for the period from January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002. The intent of the audit was to determine whether the Committee materially complied with the requirements and prohibitions imposed by 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 §§ 1.100, et seq., and 1.300, et seq., respectively).
For the period covered by the audit, the Committee reported that it received total contributions of $3,100, repaid $1,000 in loans and incurred expenditures of $1,510. The Commission was unable to conduct a complete audit to determine whether the Committee timely and accurately disclosed its activity because the Committee did not provide its records for review. As a result, the Commission will commence an enforcement action to determine whether the Committee failed to maintain records regarding contributions and expenditures, in violation of Government Code Section 84104 and SF C&GC Code section 1.106; or whether the Committee is in violation of C&GC Code §1.170(e) by failing to furnish the Ethics Commission with a copy of the Committee’s campaign records.
II. Committee Information
The Committee is a general purpose committee formed to support issues related to parks in San Francisco. The Committee indicated on its Statement of Organization that it had qualified as a committee on October 19, 1999. The Committee has not terminated as of the date of this report. During the period covered by the audit, Mark Buell signed as treasurer for campaign statements covering the year 2001. Thereafter, Jan Chernoff assumed the position of treasurer and serves as the Committee’s current treasurer.
III. Audit Authority
San Francisco Charter Section C3.699-11 authorizes the Ethics Commission to audit campaign statements that are filed with the Commission and other relevant documents to determine whether a committee complied with applicable requirements of State and local law. The Ethics Commission, by a random process, selected the Committee for audit.
IV. Audit Scope and Procedures
Audits are performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Audits involve a thorough review of a committee’s records for the time period covered by the audits.
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; and
- Compliance with all record-keeping requirements.
V. Summary of Applicable Law
Government Code Section 84104: Recordkeeping
The Act requires that all campaign contributions (including loans) received and expenditures incurred be reported on the campaign disclosure statements. (Government Code Section 84211). In addition, the Act requires that committee treasurers maintain detailed accounts, records, bills and receipts that are necessary to prepare campaign statements and comply with the campaign disclosure provisions of the Act. (California Code of Regulations Section 18427). The detailed accounts, records, bills and receipts are to be retained by the filer for a period of four years. (Government Code Section 84104). The CFRO incorporates the Act’s provisions regarding disclosure and record-keeping. (S.F. Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.106). For this reason, violations of Sections 84211 and 84104 of the Act are also violations of the CFRO.
San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 1.170(e): Withholding of Information
SF C&GC Code section 1.170(e) states that any person who knowingly or willfully furnishes false or fraudulent evidence, documents, or information to the Ethics Commission under this Chapter, 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 under this Chapter shall be subject to the penalties provided in this section.
VI. Material Findings
Government Code Section 84104: Recordkeeping
In 2004 the Commission sent a letter to the Committee and its treasurer, Jan Chernoff, requesting that the Committee provide its records, covering the years 2001 and 2002, for audit review. Mr. Chernoff provided the auditor with only the Committee’s bank statements. Since then, the auditor has contacted the treasurer many times to request that the Committee provide its records for review. The auditor has not yet received access to the Committee’s complete records such as copies of contribution checks and invoices/receipts for payments. Therefore, the Commission was unable to perform a complete audit to determine whether required campaign statements were timely and accurately filed. The review of the Committee’s bank statements indicated that the total contributions and expenditures disclosed on each campaign statement agreed with the activities listed on the bank statements.
The Commission was unable to fully conduct the audit to determine whether the Committee timely and accurately disclosed its activity because the Committee did not provide its complete records for review. As a result, the Commission will commence an enforcement action to determine whether the Committee failed to maintain records regarding contributions and expenditures, in violation of Government Code Section 84104 and SF C&GC Code section 1.106; or whether the Committee is in violation of C&GC Code §1.170(e) by failing to furnish the Ethics Commission with a copy of the Committee’s campaign records.
Audit reports are posted to the Commission’s web site and are forwarded, in cases of apparent violations of law, to the appropriate enforcement agency.
Date: March 18, 2005