Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Press Release – January 11, 2011 – Summary of Actions Taken at January 10, 2011 Meeting

Contact:
John St. Croix
(415) 252-3100

For release: January 11, 2011

SUMMARY OF ACTIONS TAKEN AT JANUARY 10, 2011 MEETING

At its meeting on January 10, 2011, the San Francisco Ethics Commission took the following actions:

The Commission considered and approved several proposed amendments to the Campaign Consultant Ordinance (“Ordinance”), San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.500 et seq.  None of these proposed changes will go into effect unless approved by the voters. 

  • By a vote of 3-1, approved new section 1.505, which provides that in addition to changes to the Ordinance made by the voters, the Ethics Commission and the Board of Supervisors (“Board”) may make changes to the Ordinance under the following conditions:  the amendment furthers the purposes of the Ordinance, 4/5 of the Ethics Commission approves the amendment, the proposed amendment is available for public review for at least 30 days prior to any action by the Board, and the Board approves the amendment by at least a 2/3 vote of all of its members.
  • By a vote of 4-0, approved amendments to the definitions of “candidate” and “measure” in section 1.510(e) and (h), respectively; and added the term “City elective office” in section 1.510(f), while deleting the term “local office” in current section 1.505(i).
  • By a vote of 4-0, approved amendments to the definitions of “economic consideration” and “vendor” in section 1.510(g) and (i), respectively.  If the amendments are approved by the voters, the Commission will consider regulations to clarify “anything of value” and the appropriate time periods for reimbursements for expenses received by consultants.
  • By a vote of 3-1, approved new section 1.525, which sets forth the general rule that it is unlawful for any campaign consultant to provide campaign consultant services or to accept any economic consideration for providing campaign consultant services without first registering with the Ethics Commission and complying with reporting requirements; and establishes a prohibition against any attempt to evade the legal obligations of the Ordinance.
  • By a vote of 4-0, approved the following changes:
    • In subsection 1.540(a), deleted the $100 per day late fine for reports that should have been submitted within 30 days of an election.  Consultants would continue be subject to the $50 per day late fee for late filings;
    • In subsection 1.540(c), clarified that the Commission will apply “a preponderance of the evidence” standard  in its enforcement proceedings concerning the Ordinance;
    • In subsection 1.540(c), added the words “intentionally or negligently,” to make clear that a violation may be intentional or negligent;
    • In subsection 1.540(c), added the issuance of warning letters as a remedy for the violation or potential violation of the Ordinance;
    • In subsection 1.540(e), added language providing for joint and several liability;
    • Deleted current section 1.525(e) (“Any person or entity which intentionally or negligently violates Section 1.510 is guilty of a misdemeanor.”);
    • In subsection 1.540(f), added language to clarify that an administrative action commences on the date that the Commission serves a probable cause report on a respondent, which is consistent with section 2.150(b) of the Lobbyist Ordinance.
    • Added new subsection 1.540(g), which sets out a limitations period for the collection of fines and penalties, which tracks language that appears in section 1.168(c)(4) of the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance and section 2.150(c) of the Lobbyist Ordinance.
  • By a vote of 4-0, approved the remaining conforming and technical changes set forth in the January 4, 2011 version of the draft amendments.

The Commission also approved the retention of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office as legal counsel to advise the Commission on matters that directly involve the November mayoral 2011 election.

The Commission’s next scheduled meeting will be held on Monday, February 14, 2011, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 408 City Hall. 

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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. 

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