Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Spending to Influence: Campaign Consultants

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This section analyzes the financial activity of individuals and firms providing campaign consulting services to candidates and ballot measures (i.e., “campaign consultants”) during the June and November 2014 elections in San Francisco.

The user is able to examine payments to specific individuals and consulting firms as well as spending on particular ballot measures and candidates.  This page provides details about overall spending.  The next pages provide information about which consultants were active during the 2014 election year and which ballot measures or candidates had consultant activity associated with them. 

See the visual below to explore information about campaign consultants and some conclusions that can be drawn from the relevant data.

Campaign consultant reporting in San Francisco

The San Francisco Regulation of Campaign Consultants Ordinance requires individuals and firms that earn $1,000 or more in a year for campaign management or campaign strategy services to file reports with the Ethics Commission disclosing their clients, campaign activities, financial receipts and campaign contributions.  Approved by voters in 1997, the ordinance recognizes the influence of campaign consultants on City elections and governance and is the only one of its kind in the state, and perhaps the country.

Because it was enacted via the initiative process, the ordinance may only be amended by the voters. A measure to mandate electronic reporting failed in 2011, and thus consultants continue to file quarterly reports on paper. The paper reports are entered into the Ethics Commission’s campaign finance database manually, and scanned forms are available for download.  The Ethics Commission publishes quarterly summaries of the reported information on its website.


In 2014, expenditures on campaign consultants reached a record high of over $12 million.  Total expenses for the previous five years averaged between $2 – $6 million per year.  2014 was especially high because of payments to consultants to oppose Measure E, the proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.  There were 32 active consultants in the 2014 elections, either operating as firms or individuals. Many firms worked on more than one election item.  Consultant spending generally correlated with the desired election outcome.

Only ballot measures and candidates that employed consultants are shown in this analysis.  If a ballot measure or candidate is not found, it is because there was no campaign consultant reporting data associated with it.  All candidates or measures are from the November 2014 election unless otherwise noted.

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