Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Reminder about Changes to Campaign Finance Laws and Regulations, the February 2, 2015 Semi-Annual Deadline

Date: January 20, 2015

To:

  • Recipient committees (Including Candidates and Officeholders)
  • Candidates for the November 3, 2015 election who do not have a committee 
  • Major donor and independent expenditure committees

From: John St. Croix, Executive Director

Re:

  1. Reminder about changes to campaign finance laws and regulations;
  2. Courtesy notice regarding the February 2, 2015 semi-annual filing deadline;
  3. Information on terminating committees;
  4. Guidance on preparing and filing campaign statements; and
  5. Additional Filing Requirements

Please review this memorandum carefully.  It contains important information about your campaign disclosure filing obligations.  If you have questions on any of the items discussed below, please call our office at 415-252-3100 during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1. Reminder about changes to campaign finance laws and regulations

The following are changes to rules and regulations governing campaign committees. 

  • $50 payment to the Secretary of State: A committee that has not terminated by 12/31/2014 will need to pay a $50 fee to the Secretary of State no later than January 15, 2015. If the payment is late, a penalty of $150 may be assessed.
  • Form 462: The form must be filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) within 10 days from the date of an independent expenditure that totals, in the aggregate, $1,000 or more to support or oppose a candidate or measure in a calendar year. A candidate or measure is listed only once for each election. The verification states that the independent expenditure(s) was not coordinated with the affected candidate or measure committee or their opponent and the committee reported all contributions and reimbursements.

For more information about these and other changes, please contact Ethics Staff at 415-252-3100 or by email at ethics.commission@sfgov.org.

2. Courtesy notice regarding the February 2, 2015 filing deadline

This section provides important information about the upcoming February 2, 2015 filing deadline.  Please review the information below to determine your filing obligation.

A. Who needs to file?

The following filers must file a semi-annual statement with the Ethics Commission:

a. Non-candidate recipient committees must file:

  • FPPC Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement.
  • Committees that made independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a single candidate or measure must also file a Form 465 Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.

b. Candidate/Officeholder committees must file:1

  • FPPC Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement.

c. Candidates for the November 3, 2015 election who filed a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement by 12/31/2014, DID NOT have a committee in the year 2014 and WILL NOT raise or spend $1,000 or more in 2015 must file a Form 470 Officeholder and Candidate Campaign Statement-Short Form for the 2014 calendar year. 

d. Major donor and independent expenditure committees must file:  

  • FPPC Form 461 Major Donor and Independent Expenditure Committee Campaign Statement if there was any activity during the reporting period covering through 12/31/2014.  However, if you already filed a Pre-Election statement, you must file a Semi Annual statement covering through 12/31/2014 even if you did NOT have any activity after your Pre-Election filing.
  • Committees that made independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a single candidate or measure must also file a Form 465 Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.

e. For statements that are NOT electronically filed, the Commission requires an original and one copy of each statement signed and dated by the treasurer and/or candidate. You may obtain FPPC forms at the Fair Political Practices Commission website: http:www.fppc.ca.gov.  You may obtain local SFEC forms at the SF Ethics Commission website: https://www.sfethics.org.

B. What is the period covered by the Statement?

The statement covers the period between: either (a) the day after the closing date of the previous statement filed through December 31, 2014; or (b) if no statement was filed in 2014, January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.2;

C. What records do you need to keep?

State law requires committees to keep all campaign records for a period of four years from the date the related campaign statement was filed.  The candidate and treasurer are responsible for maintaining the records and for the accuracy of the records.  In general, you must keep a record of all receipts and expenditures.  For more detail on the types of records that you must maintain, please refer to the recordkeeping section of the relevant FPPC Campaign Disclosure Manual.  FPPC Manuals may be obtained from the Commission’s office or from the FPPC’s website at www.fppc.ca.gov

D. Do you need to file electronically?

All major donor committees, recipient committees and independent expenditures committees must file the following FPPC forms electronically: 460, 461, 465, 496 and 497.  A committee that files electronic campaign statements must continue to file electronically until it terminates.  You do not need to file a paper statement if you are required to file electronic statements.  There are two ways to comply with this requirement:

  1. Internet Filing.  Committees may use the Commission’s free San Francisco Electronic Disclosure System (SFEDS).  A registration form and a user guide are available on the Commission’s web site at www.sfethics.org
  2. Political Reporting Services.  Campaigns may wish to purchase political software or reporting services.  You may obtain a list of qualified third-party software vendors at http://www.ss.ca.gov/prd/approved_vendors.htm.  (Please note that these are listed for informational purposes and that the Commission does not endorse these services.) 

E. What is the fee for the late filing of paper and/or electronic reports?

Filing deadlines will be strictly enforced.  Late filings are subject to a $10-per-day late fee for paper reports and a $25-per-day late fee for electronic reports. 

3. Information on terminating committees

If no funds are left in the campaign bank account and you will not raise additional funds, you should close the account and campaign committee by filing Form 460 Termination (covering through 12/31/2014) indicating a zero-ending cash balance and Form 410 (mark the termination box).  Before terminating, you must have filed all required campaign statements, disclosing all reportable transactions, including the disposition of leftover funds and elimination of all debts. 

If you do not terminate your committee, you must continue to file Form 460.  Please call Commission staff at 415-252-3100 for information on your future filing obligations (if you do not terminate) and what you can do with the money remaining in your campaign bank account.

4. Guidance on preparing campaign statements

If you need guidance in preparing your campaign statements, you may schedule an appointment to meet with staff by calling 415-252-3100.  Due to the high volume of filings received around the filing deadline, staff encourages you to address your filing concerns several days before the February 2 filing deadline.

5. Additional Filing Requirements

A. Notification by candidates for the Board of Supervisors or Mayor of reaching activity thresholds

A candidate for the Board of Supervisors or Mayor must file a threshold form within 24 hours of receiving or spending $10,000 or more (supervisorial candidates) or $50,000 or more (mayoral candidates).

In a race where at least one candidate has been certified as eligible to receive public funds, all candidates involved in such race must file the threshold form with the Ethics Commission within 24 hours of receiving contributions, or making expenditures that equal or exceed $100,000 (supervisorial candidates) or $1,000,000 (mayoral candidates). Thereafter, the candidate must file an additional supplemental statement within 24 hours of every time the candidate receives additional contributions, or makes additional expenditures that in the aggregate equal or exceed $10,000 (supervisorial candidates) or $50,000 (mayoral candidates).  The Ethics Commission will update its website and notify candidates when it certifies a candidate as eligible to receive public funds.    

B. Notification by candidates for City Attorney, District Attorney, Sherriff or Treasurer

A candidate who wishes to accept the voluntary expenditure ceiling (VEC) must file Form SFEC-128 no later than the August 7, 2015 deadline for filing nomination papers.
In a race where at least one candidate has accepted the VEC, all candidates running for office in the same race must file Form SFEC-134(b) within 24 hours of receiving contributions, making expenditures, or having funds that exceed 100 percent of the applicable VEC.  The Ethics Commission will update its website and notify candidates when at least one candidate in a race has accepted the VEC. 

C. Notification by persons (other than candidates) who make expenditures related to candidates

In a publicly funded supervisorial race or a race where the voluntary expenditure ceiling (VEC) is in place, any person other than a candidate committee who makes or incurs expenditures for the purpose of distributing independent expenditures, electioneering communications, or member communications that clearly identify any candidate that equals or exceeds $5,000 per candidate, must within 24 hours of each time it reaches the $5,000 threshold file Part IV of the Third Party Disclosure Form.  The costs of a communication that supports or opposes more than one candidate or measure must be apportioned among each candidate and measure in the communication.

In addition, the Third Party Disclosure Form is also required to be filed in the situations described below, which are not limited to publicly funded races or races where the VEC is in place. Please refer to the Third Party Disclosure Form for detailed instructions.

  • When independent expenditures of $1,000 or more are made for a mass mailing that supports or opposes a candidate for City elective office;
  • When payments are made for an electioneering communication that is distributed 90 days before an election and that totals $1,000 or more in a calendar year for a candidate for City elective office or a City elective officer who is the subject of a recall election; and
  • When a person authorizes, administers or pays for a persuasion poll.

D. Public financing program for the November 3, 2015 election

In the November 3, 2015 election, public funding is available to eligible candidates running for the Board of Supervisors or Mayor.  To receive public, a candidate for the Board of Supervisors must demonstrate, among other things, that he/she raised at least $10,000 ($15,000 for incumbents) in qualifying contributions ($10-100) from at least 100 (150 for incumbents) residents of the City (from 5/4/14-8/24/15).  To receive public funds, a candidate for Mayor must demonstrate, among other things, that he/she has raised at least $50,000 ($75,000 for incumbents) in qualifying contributions ($10-$100) from at least 500 (750 for incumbents) residents of the City (from 5/4/14-8/24/15).  Prior to applying for public funds, a candidate must have filed a statement of participation or non-participation (SFEC-Form 142a) by June 9, 2015, indicating an intent to apply for public funds.  A candidate may apply for public funds beginning February 3 through August 25, 2015.  For more information about the public financing program, refer to the Supplement for Candidates for the Board of Supervisors or the Supplement for Candidates for Mayor.

S:\CAMPAIGN\2015\2.2.2015\Courtesy Notice\2nd Semi Annual sent 1.20.2015.docx

1 When a candidate or officeholder controls more than one committee for offices within the same jurisdiction, all committees of that candidate or officeholder must file statements each time any committee statement is due.  When an elected officeholder in one jurisdiction runs for an office in another jurisdiction, the officeholder and all committees that he or she controls must file statements in both jurisdictions (see Cal. Code Regulations §18405).

2 Candidates without committees file Form 470.  The period covered by a Form 470 is the calendar year (i.e., 1/1/14-12/31/14).

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