Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Executive Director’s Report – May 27, 2015

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
TO THE SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION
For the Meeting of May 27, 2015.  

1. Budget/Staffing.

Staff requested and received a one-time adjustment of $51,111 to its FY 2014-15 budget in order to complete the translation of its publicly-posted documents into Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog as required by the City’s Language Access Ordinance.  Completion of the translations will address the issues raised in a June 2014 Civil Grand Jury Report, which found that the Ethics Commission provides written information only in English, although San Francisco has strong political participation from communities and officials whose first language is not English and who require guides and educational materials relevant to their needs. The report recommended that the Ethics Commission make its guides and education materials available in the City’s major languages as is done in other City departments.

The documents that have been selected for translation provide information regarding the Ethics Commission’s services and programs. They include, but are not limited to, guides for candidates seeking public office, lobbyists and campaign committees, a manual on governmental ethics laws for public officials and employees, and information about reporting requirements for persons seeking to influence decisions by government officials.

All required budget documents have been submitted.  The Mayor’s proposed budget is due to be released on June 1, 2015.

2. Investigation and enforcement program.

As of May 15, 2015, there were 19 pending formal complaints alleging violations within the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction. 

Category # of Complaints
Campaign Finance 7
Conflict of Interest 5
Governmental Ethics 1
Lobbyist Ordinance 4
Campaign Consultant Ordinance 0
Sunshine Ordinance 2
TOTAL 19

3. Campaign finance disclosure program.

a. Filing deadline.   On April 20, 2015, seven committees were added to the Commission’s Non-Responsive Filers List for failing to file their required campaign statement for the period ending 12/31/2014, which was due 2/2/2015.  The next filing is July 31, 2015 for the First Semi-annual statement, which covers the reporting period ending June 30, 2015.  In the interim, staff receives and processes campaign statements for this and other filing deadlines.  Staff continues to answer questions from and conduct outreach to candidates and other committee representatives about campaign finance filing obligations.

b. Collection of late filing fees and contribution forfeitures.  In the fiscal year 2014 -2015, as of May 15, 2015, the Commission collected $24,378 in late fees and forfeitures.  As of May 15, 2015, the Commission’s outstanding late fees and forfeitures were $8,111, of which $6,601 is pending at the Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR). 

# Committee/
Filer
ID # Treasurer or Responsible Officer Date referral effective Original amount referred Last month’s balance Current balance (Changes are in bold) Status
1 Chris Jackson For Community College Board 1347066 Chris Jackson 7/12/13 $6,600.94 $6,600.94 $6,601 Pending at Small Claims Court
            TOTAL $6,601  

c. Status of accounts to San Francisco Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR).  The following chart provides details on active accounts referred to BDR as of May 15, 2015:

4. Revenues report.

For fiscal year 2014-2015, the Commission was budgeted to generate $70,000 in revenues.  As of May 15, 2015, the Commission received $143,016 or 204% of anticipated revenues for the year. 

Source Budgeted Amount FY 14-15 Receipts
Lobbyist Fees $37,000 $91,500
Other Ethics General $1,000 $8
Campaign Finance Fines $23,000 $24,378
Campaign Consultant Fees $5,000 $14,550
Lobbyist Fines $1,000 $50
Statements of Economic Interests Fines $1,000 $1,420
Other Ethics Fines $1,000 $9,500
Campaign Consultant Fines $1,000 $1,610
Unallocated $0 $0
Total $70,000 $143,016

5. Lobbyist program. 

As of May 15, 2015, 139 individual lobbyists were registered with the Commission.  Total revenues collected to date for the 2014-2015 fiscal year amount to $91,550, including $91,500 in lobbyist registration fees, and $50 in lobbyist fines.  The filing deadline for the next lobbyist disclosure statement is June 15, 2015.

6. Campaign Consultant program. 

As of May 18, 2015, 23 campaign consultants were registered with the Commission.  $14,550 in registration fees and $1,610 in fines have been collected so far during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. 

The next campaign consultant quarterly report deadline is Monday, June 15, 2015, covering the reporting period from March 1, 2015 through May 31, 2015.  Staff will send reminders to all active campaign consultants prior to the deadline.

7. Statements of Economic Interests.

As of May 18, 2015, 472 persons (95 percent) have electronically filed their Annual Form 700.  Notices about non-filers were sent to filing officers and department heads in the first week of May.  Reminders will be sent to filing officers and non-filers the first week of June.  Persons who have not filed by July 1, 2015 will be referred automatically to the Fair Political Practices Commission for enforcement.

Fifty-five percent have filed their Annual Sunshine Ordinance Declaration, and 25 percent have filed their Certificate of Ethics training.  (The April Executive Director Report failed to correctly state that the percentage of persons who had filed their Certificate of Ethics Training was 17 percent.)

8. Permit Consultant Program.

As of May 18, 2015, 21 individuals have registered with the Permit Consultant program.  Sixteen Disclosure Reports for the period January 1 to March 31, 2015 have been received.  Staff is working with Department of Building Inspection (DBI) personnel to educate permit consultants about the filing requirements.  Staff will also be using data from the DBI permit consultant database to identify potential registrants.

9. Outreach and Education.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015, Deputy Executive Director Jesse Mainardi met with representatives of San Francisco chapter of Represent.US, which seeks to pass and improve anti-corruption laws in cities and states across the United States.   The group discussed the state of the City’s campaign laws and Represent.US’s potential plans.

For the calendar year 2015, staff has scheduled 14 workshops to provide training to campaign committees of their obligations under state and local campaign finance laws.  Of the 14 workshops, five will cover requirements pertaining to candidates seeking office in November 2015, five will cover requirements pertaining to ballot measure committees and four will cover requirements pertaining to general purpose committees (also referred to as political action committees).  In addition, to the 14 scheduled training workshops, staff will schedule additional training and/or conduct one-on-one training as needed.  Separately, on an on-going basis staff provides training to candidates and campaign treasurers on using the Commission’s online electronic filing system, SFEDS.  

Additionally, the Commission continues to offer trainings on Statements of Incompatible Activities to City departments via web trainings.  The following are web video trainings available on the Commission website:

  • Department of Building Inspection SIA Training
  • Controller’s Office SIA Training
  • Department on the Environment SIA Training
  • Governmental Ethics Ordinance Training for City Employees
  • Medical Examiner’s Office SIA Training
  • Non-Candidate Recipient Committee Training
  • Public Utilities Commission SIA Training
  • SIA Template Language Training

10. Technology

At the February 23, 2015 meeting, the Commission approved regulations to allow public financing applications to be submitted electronically.  On May 5, 2015, the Commission released a new component to its electronic filing system to allow candidates for Mayor and Board of Supervisors to submit qualifying and matching funds requests, all supporting documentation, and a variety of other forms related to the public financing program in electronic format.  Commission staff will review applications in the new system and send responses back directly into the candidate’s filing account.  Candidates that use the new public financing component will now only have to data enter contributions once for both public financing and disclosure forms.  Candidates currently raising funds in anticipation of applying for the November 2016 election may start to use the new system. 

11.  Records Requests

The Commission has received 21 records requests since the start of April, over half of which required immediate disclosure of records.  Immediate disclosure requests require a response by close of business on the day following the day of the request.  Otherwise, public records requests require a response within 10 days.  Immediate disclosure requests cause staff to suspend their other regular duties, no matter how important, to research and compile records by the deadline. 

In the past two months, it has caused delays in the release of the new public financing system and other planned improvements to the Commission’s web site.  In addition it has reduced the staff’s capacity to work on the Commission’s legislative proposals and investigation of complaints and to provide timely support to filers.

12. Staff Project Calendar.

The staff project calendar for 2015 which was approved by the Commission in March follows:

  Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
1. Limits for candidate-controlled committees     Mtg     Mtg      
2. Reporting of bundling               Mtg  
3. “Public benefit” contribution bans                  
4. Slate mailer filings                  
5. Enforcement regulations/policies                 Mtg
6. Forfeiture/late fine penalties                  
7. Expenditure lobbyists                  
8. Additional gift of travel reporting                  
9. Permit Consultant regulations                  
10. Form 700 electronic filing   Mtg              

Notes:

  • Shaded squares indicate staff work on the issue.  Issues with no shaded squares will not be addressed by staff in 2015.
  • “Mtg” indicates the Commission will consider the issue at a public meeting during that month.

Respectfully submitted,

 

_________________________
John St. Croix
Executive Director

S:\ED Report\2015\05.27.2015.docx

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