Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Reminder about Changes to Campaign Finance Laws and Regulations, the July 31, 2015 Semi-Annual Deadline, Terminating Committees, Preparing Campaign Statements, Additional Filing Requirements

Date: July 27, 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 July 31, 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

In June 2015, the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor approved numerous amendments to the City’s Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance (“CFRO”). In addition to repealing certain contribution limits, these amendments updated and streamlined CFRO’s reporting and disclaimer requirements. The amendments took effect July 25, 2015.

The Commission will send all committees a Fact Sheet of these changes and updates to CFRO shortly.

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 July 31, 2015 filing deadline

This section provides important information about the upcoming July 31, 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 6/30/2015, DID NOT have a committee in the year 2015 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 2015 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 6/30/2015.  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 June 30, 2015; or (b) if no statement was filed in 2015, January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015.2;

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.  Please also refer to the SF Ethics Commission’s List of Records Required for Audit, which can be found at www.sfethics.org.

D. Do you need to file electronically?

All recipient committees, major donor 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 6/30/2015) 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 July 31 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 an SFEC 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, Community College Board, District Attorney, Sheriff 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. 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 funds, 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.

D. Reports required during the 90 days prior to an election (90-day period begins August 5, 2015)

During the 90-day period prior to an election, you may need to file additional campaign statements such as the FPPC Forms 497 and 496, and SFEC Forms 162 and 163.

  • Form FPPC 497 Late Contribution Report: File within 24 hours of making or receiving a late contribution (late contribution is a contribution totaling $1,000 or more during the 90 days prior to an election and is made to or received by a candidate or measure being voted upon.) If you are an electronic filer, you must file Form 497 in electronic format.
  • Form FPPC 496 Late Independent Expenditure Report: File within 24 hours of making independent expenditures(s) that total $1,000 or more to support or oppose a single candidate or ballot measure. If you are supporting or opposing a candidate or measure in San Francisco, you must file Form 496 with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. If you are an electronic filer, you must file Form 496 in electronic format. Per the new changes to CFRO, you will now be required to also submit a copy of the communication by email or personal delivery.
  • Form SFEC 162 Electioneering Communication Report: Per the new changes to CFRO, payments for electioneering communications must be reported on SFEC Form 162 during the 90 days prior to a City election if the cost of the communication attributable to any one City candidate referenced in the communication is $1,000 or more. The Form 162 must be filed by email or personal delivery within 24 hours of making the electioneering communications(s). Also a copy of any reported electioneering communication must accompany a Form 162 filed with the Ethics Commission. Electioneering communications made by telephone call, or audio or video ads must include a copy of the script and a recording of the communication itself.
  • Form SFEC 163 Member Communications: Per the new changes to CFRO, payments for member communications must be reported on an SFEC Form 163 during the 90 days prior to a City election if the cost of the communication attributable to any one City candidate supported or opposed in the communication is $1,000 or more. The Form 163 must be filed by email or personal delivery within 24 hours of making the member communication(s).  Also, a copy of any reported member communication must accompany a Form 163 filed with the Ethics Commission.  Member communications made by telephone call, or audio or video ads must include a copy of the script and a recording of the communication itself.

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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., 1/1/15-12/31/15).

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