Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Notice regarding Campaign Consultant Registration Requirements

Date: March 22, 2012

To:                 

  • All Committees, Candidates & Treasurers
  • All Campaign Consultants & Managers
  • All Interested Persons

From: Catherine Argumedo

Re: Notice regarding Campaign Consultant Registration Requirements


This advisory memorandum provides a brief overview of the campaign consultant registration requirements under San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.500 et seq. (Campaign Consultant Ordinance or “CCO”).

Section 1.510 of the CCO states that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any campaign consultant to provide campaign consulting services, or accept any economic consideration for the provision of campaign consulting services, without first registering with the Ethics Commission and complying with the reporting requirements specified in Section 1.515.”

A "campaign consultant" is any person or entity that receives or is promised economic consideration equaling $1,000 or more in a calendar year for campaign consulting services.  (See section 1.505(a).)

All campaign consultants providing campaign consultant services must first register with the Ethics Commission and then comply with the reporting requirements.  Campaign consultant services are categorized as either “campaign management” or “campaign strategy.”  

"Campaign management" means conducting, coordinating or supervising a campaign to elect, defeat, retain or recall a candidate, or adopt or defeat a measure, including but not limited to hiring or authorizing the hiring of campaign staff and consultants, spending or authorizing the expenditure of campaign funds, directing, supervising or conducting the solicitation of contributions to the campaign, and selecting or recommending vendors or subvendors of goods or services for the campaign.  (See section 1.505(c).)

"Campaign strategy" means plans for the election, defeat, retention or recall of a candidate, or for the adoption or defeat of a measure, including but not limited to producing or authorizing the production of campaign literature and print and broadcast advertising, seeking endorsements of organizations or individuals, seeking financing, or advising on public policy positions.  (See section 1.505(d).)

“Candidate,” for the purposes of the CCO, includes a local officeholder who has taken affirmative action to seek nomination or election to any elective office.  Therefore, if an individual or entity provides “campaign consultant services” for a local officeholder who is seeking nomination or election to any elective office, even if the office is not a local office, is required to register as a campaign consultant with the Ethics Commission and comply with the reporting requirements under the CCO.

  • For example, if a member of the Board of Supervisors is running for State Assembly, then a consultant providing “campaign consultant services” for that State Assembly campaign would be required to register with the Ethics Commission.

In order to register with the Ethics Commission, a consultant must file a Registration Report (Form 1) and pay fees (amount depends on earnings).  If the consultant has a new client, then the consultant must also file a Client Authorization Statement (Form 4) and pay a $50 client fee for each client.  Anytime a consultant adds a new client after initial registration, s/he must file a Form 4 and pay the $50 client fee within 15 days of being retained by or receiving economic consideration from that new client.

After registering, consultants are also required to file quarterly reports (Form 3), which are due on the following dates: March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15. 

Once a consultant terminates services for a client, s/he must file a Client Termination Statement (Form 5) within 30 days of terminating services for that client.

At the beginning of each year, all consultants are required to submit a Re-Registration Report (Form 2) and pay fees for that year.

The requirement to file quarterly reports continues until a consultant terminates his or her status as a campaign consultant by filing all required forms, including the Campaign Consultant Termination Statement (Form 6).

For all statements or reports, the Campaign Consultant Ordinance authorizes the Ethics Commission to fine the consultant $50 per calendar day after the deadline until the original report is received by the Commission.  (See section 1.525(a).)

For further information regarding the campaign consultant program, please visit the Ethics Commission’s website: https://www.sfethics.org/ethics/2009/06/campaign-consultants.html

If you have any questions regarding filing requirements, please contact Commission staff at 415-252-3100.

Was this page helpful?

Scan with a QR reader to access page:
QR Code to Access Page
https://sfethics.org/ethics/2012/03/notice-regarding-campaign-consultant-registration-requirements.html