Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Executive Director’s Report – November 23, 2015

ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
TO THE SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION
For the Meeting of November 23, 2015.

1. Public Financing in the November 3, 2015 Election

For the November 3, 2015 election, the Commission disbursed a total of $307,500 in public funds to two candidates seeking election to the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors. Each of the two candidates qualified for the maximum amount of public funds allowable: $155,000 for a non-incumbent candidate (Aaron Peskin) and $152,500 for an incumbent candidate (Julie Christensen).

Each of the two publicly funded candidates was allowed to spend no more than his or her Individual Expenditure Ceiling, which began at $250,000 and was adjusted by the Commission staff based on the sum of opposition spending against each candidate and the total supportive funds for his or her opponent.  The final Individual Expenditure Ceiling for Aaron Peskin was at $1,000,000 and Julie Christensen’s ceiling was at $920,000.  However, the actual amount spent through the date of the election was approximately $555,000 by Aaron Peskin and $440,000 by Julie Christensen.  Details on candidate and third-party spending can be found on the Commission’s website.

2. Proposition C

On November 3, 2015, voters approved Proposition C, which the Commission placed on the ballot, with 74.83% of the vote.  Effective February 1, 2016, the measure will impose registration and reporting requirements on “expenditure lobbyists” that urge the public to lobby City officials. Staff has begun to work on implementing the measure.

3. Investigation and Enforcement Program

As of November 15, 2015, there were 24 pending formal complaints alleging violations within the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction.

Category# of Complaints
Campaign Finance8
Conflict of Interest12
Governmental Ethics2
Lobbyist Ordinance1
Campaign Consultant Ordinance1
Sunshine Ordinance0
TOTAL24

Enforcement Summaries

•  On October 26, 2015, the Ethics Commission entered into a stipulated agreement with Gary Delagnes.  Mr. Delagnes admitted to committing two violations of San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code, section 2.110, and agreed to pay $5,500.  A copy of the agreement is available on the Commission’s website.

• On October 26, 2015, the Ethics Commission entered into a stipulated agreement with Janan New.  Ms. New admitted to committing seven violations of San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code, section 2.110, and agreed to pay a penalty of $3,500.  A copy of the agreement is available on the Commission’s website.

4. Campaign Finance Disclosure Program

a. Filing deadline.  The next filing deadline is February 1, 2016 for year-end semi-annual campaign statements, which cover the reporting period covering through December 31, 2015.  In the interim, staff receives and processes campaign statements on an ongoing basis.  Staff continues to answer questions from and conduct outreach to candidates and other committee representatives.

b. Collection of late filing fees and contribution forfeitures.  As of November 15, 2015, the Commission collected $18,128 in late fees and forfeitures for the fiscal year 2015-2016.  The Commission’s outstanding late fees and forfeitures were $5,506; waiver requests for $1,347 of this amount have been submitted.  Separately, $208,504 is pending at the Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR), as shown below.

#Committee/
Filer
ID #Treasurer or Responsible OfficerDate referral effectiveOriginal amount referredLast month’s balanceCurrent balance (Changes are in bold)Status
1Chris Jackson For Community College Board

1347066

Chris Jackson

7/12/13

$6,601

$6,601

$6,601

Pending at Small Claims Court
2Committee to Elect Norman For Supervisor

1327771

Jacqueline Norman

5/01/15

$9,000

$9,000

$9,000

3Bob Squeri For District 7 Supervisor 2012

1346150

Bob Squeri

5/01/15

$2,000

$2,000

$2,000

4Mark Farrell  For Supervisor 2010

1320480

Mark Farrell

7/08/15

$190,903

$190,903

$190,903

TOTAL

$208,504

 

5. Lobbyist Program

As of November 15, 2015, 167 individual lobbyists were registered with the Commission.  Total lobbyist registration fees collected to date for the 2015-2016 fiscal year amount to $17,500.  The next filing deadline for lobbyist monthly disclosures is December 15, 2015.

6. Campaign Consultant Program

As of November 13, 2015, 32 campaign consultants were registered with the Commission.  The Commission has collected $5,000 in registration fees and $1,500 in late fines so far during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  The next quarterly report deadline is Tuesday, December 15, 2015, covering the reporting period from September 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015.

7. Permit Consultant Program

As of November 15, 2015, 50 permit consultants were registered with the Commission.  The next quarterly report deadline is Tuesday, January 15, 2016, covering the reporting period from October 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.

Also, staff will be attending a series of “Permit Intake Public Workshops” offered by the Planning Department, in order to explain the reporting requirements for permit consultants to attendees.  A total of five workshops are scheduled from November 2015 to January 2016.

8. Major Developer Program

As of November 15, 2015, five major developers had registered with the Commission with respect to eight major projects since the ordinance’s effective date.  Staff is continuing to attempt to investigate potential under-reporting.

9. Statements of Economic Interests

Staff is preparing for filing officer trainings that will be offered in early 2016.

10. Revenues Report

For fiscal year 2015-2016, the Commission was budgeted to generate $70,000 in revenues.  As of November 17, 2015, the Commission received $50,138 or about 71% of anticipated revenues for the year.

SourceBudgeted Amount FY 15-16Receipts
Lobbyist Fees$37,000$17,500
Other Ethics General$1,000
Campaign Finance Fines$23,000$18,128
Campaign Consultant Fees$5,000$5,000
Lobbyist Fines$1,000
Statements of Economic Interests Fines$1,000$210
Other Ethics Fines$1,000$7,800
Campaign Consultant Fines$1,000$1,500
Unallocated$0
Total                       $70,000     $50,138

11. Budget and Staffing

In light of the pending transition to a fixed two-year budget cycle with the FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 budgets, the Commission is planning to hold a special meeting on January 5, 2016 to discuss its budget proposal.  That proposal is due by late February 2016.

Campaign Finance Assistant Teresa Shew will retire in mid-December after 40 years of service with the City and County of San Francisco.  Staff wishes Teresa the best, thanks her for all her help, and commends her on her service.

12. Outreach and Education

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

13.  Technology

The Commission’s campaign finance dashboards were a popular resource during the November election cycle.  The dashboard charts, graphs, and maps tracked total campaign contributions and spending, committee cash balances, contributors, late contributions, third-party spending, public financing disbursements, and expenditure ceilings.  This year, staff added the ability to click third-party expenditures to see the associated campaign mailer or video.  Staff made all of the data supporting the dashboards available for download on the City’s open data web site.

Graphs on the dashboards were republished in news articles by Business Insider, San Francisco Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times.  Other media outlets such as CNN, Slate, and Al Jazeera America provided links to the dashboard or cited the dashboards for source material.  The Commission also received positive feedback from members of the community and press.

14. Staff Project Calendar

The staff project calendar for 2015 approved by the Commission in March is set forth below.  Per the direction of the Chair, the Commission’s consideration of the topics below has been placed on hold pending the resolution of its search for a new Executive Director.  This will necessitate a revision of the work plan.

AprMayJuneJulyAugSeptOctNovDec
1. Limits for candidate-controlled committees  Sched.
Actual
  Sched.
2. Reporting of bundlingSched.
3. “Public benefit” contribution bans
4. Slate mailer filings
5. Enforcement regulations/policiesSched.
6. Forfeiture/late fine penalties
7. Expenditure lobbyistsActual
8. Additional gift of travel reporting
9. Permit Consultant regulations
10. Form 700 electronic filingSched.Actual
Notes:

  • Shaded squares indicate planned staff work on the issue.  Issues with no shaded squares were not intended to be addressed by staff in 2015.
  • “Sched.” indicates the Commission’s planned consideration of the issue at a public meeting during that month.
  • “Actual” indicates the Commission’s actual consideration of the issue at a public meeting during that month.

Respectfully submitted,

_________________________
Jesse Mainardi
Acting Executive Director

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