January 13, 2009 – Meeting Summary
Contact: For release:
John St. Croix January 13, 2009
SUMMARY OF ACTIONS TAKEN AT JANUARY 12, 2009 MEETING
At its meeting on January 12, 2009, the San Francisco Ethics Commission took the following actions:
- Approved, by a vote of 3-0, a formal order in Re Ethics Complaint No. 24-050928, In the Matter of The Friends of Tony Hall for Supervisor (ID# 1221830) and Tony Hall, Candidate, Respondents. In approving the formal order, the Commission issued its final findings and conclusions on the matter. Under the order, Respondents are directed to pay a fine of $6,000 for violations of California Government Code sections 89510(b), 89512 and 89516(d)(2) and San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code sections 1.106 and 1.122(b)(i).
- Considered a summary of the feedback that staff received from persons who participated in the November 4, 2008 election about their experience with the public financing program and other provisions in the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance.
- Received testimony from persons regarding the Commission’s communications with other departments, boards and commissions and members of the public. In particular, the Commission heard from the Chairperson of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, who suggested that there be regular discussions with Commissioners on open government laws and that the Task Force develop processes that would complement the Commission’s processes. The Commission will continue its consideration of this matter in upcoming meetings.
- Received testimony from the Mayor’s Budget Officer for the Ethics Commission, discussed budget issues and, by a 3-0 vote, directed staff to prepare a budget that, in recognition of the City’s financial crisis and the independent nature of the Commission, proposes neither additional funding under its five-year plan nor the cuts that have been requested of all General Revenue departments.
- Approved, by a 3-0 vote, an amendment to Ethics Commission Regulation 67.33-1 that would require all Sunshine Ordinance Declaration filers to file a Sunshine Declaration within 30 days of being sworn in or assuming office and an annual Declaration by April 1. The regulation also provides that an officer or employee who assumed office between October and March 30 and timely filed a Declaration need not file another Declaration on the April 1 immediately following assumption of office. This process tracks the filing deadlines for an assuming office Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) and an annual SEI under state law. Regulations approved by the Commission become effective 60 days after their adoption unless before the expiration of the 60-day period, two-thirds of all members of the Board of Supervisors vote to veto the regulation.
- Approved, by a 3-0 vote, a letter providing comments on proposed Regulation 18247.5 to the Fair Political Practices Commission. The proposed regulation provides more clarity in defining what constitutes a “primarily formed” or “general purpose” committee. However, the Commission is concerned that the proposed $50,000 activity level and three-year look-back provisions may lead to less campaign disclosure in San Francisco in the critical months before an election.
The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Monday, February 9, 2009, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 408 City Hall.
The Ethics Commission, established in November 1993, serves the public, City employees and officials and candidates for public office through education and enforcement of ethics laws. Its duties include: filing and auditing of campaign finance disclosure statements, lobbyist and campaign consultant registration and regulation, administration of the public financing program, whistleblower program, conflict of interest reporting, investigations and enforcement, education and training, advice giving and statistical reporting.