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Executive Director’s Report – February 29, 2016

This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights

Date: February 24, 2016

To: Members of the Ethics Commission

From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director

Subject: AGENDA ITEM 7 – Executive Director’s Report for the February 29, 2016 Commission Special Meeting


This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights to date since the last monthly Executive Director’s Report.

Action Requested

No action is required by the Commission, as this item is only for informational purposes.

1. Budget

The Ethics Commission’s budget requests for FY17 and FY18 were submitted to the Mayor’s Budget Office on February 22, 2016, meeting the Mayor’s requested deadline for departmental submissions.  In addition, a budget request narrative was submitted to the Mayor and copied to the Budget Office to provide context and additional background for the Commission’s request.  That transmittal is attached to this report for your reference (see Attachment A).  Separately, detailed budget worksheets and analyses required from all departments were also submitted as required using the Budget Office’s electronic budget submission system.

2. City Fellowships

Following the February 4 ‘lunch and learn’ briefing by the Mayor’s Budget Office on the City’s fellowship programs, our office submitted three Mayor’s Senior Fellows proposals for consideration.  Senior Fellows are entrepreneurial professionals with significant private sector management experience who are seeking to apply their knowledge and skills in the public sector.  The highly competitive program funds a limited number of Fellows for selected departmental projects for a period of 12 months to address a department’s high-impact needs and provide specific deliverables that have a lasting impact.  With applications due February 22, our submissions identified strategic goals, deliverables, and accountability measures for each of three proposed projects:

  • Strengthening Accountability with Online Technology.  Creating practical new tools and innovative user guides for consumption in a web- and social-media based environment that leverage demand for a more user-focused online experience to improve compliance, enhance accountability, and facilitate broad public understanding across a comprehensive range of governmental ethics requirements.
  • Audit Effectiveness/“T3” Innovations.  Developing and implementing a strategic audit plan to improve governmental accountability that includes new audit tools, standardized templates, and clear timelines for achieving more efficient, effective, and transparent campaign and lobbying audits.
  • Leading Policy Practices.  Accelerating the Commission’s development and use of leading policy evaluation and engagement practices, including improved use of data in policy analysis and formulation, to ensure and sustain a framework of local political reform laws that is strong, workable, and effective.

Selections of departmental Senior Fellows are announced in April 2016 and are scheduled to begin their year-long projects in September.  I will keep you informed of any decisions related to our submissions as they may occur.

3. Outreach

Chair Paul Renne and I continued this month to have brief introductory meetings with elected and appointed officials to begin informal dialogue with those offices about how we can work together in support of good governance in the City and County of San Francisco.

An inaugural “sfETHICS  fyi” was distributed electronically on January 28th to more than 500 elected and appointed officials, and department heads.  The fyi format is designed to help keep various ethics rules ‘top of mind’ with short, timely reminders that provide general guidance.  The January 28th issue, which is attached for reference, was distributed on the eve of Super Bowl 50 festivities and addressed applicable gift rules (see Attachment B).

Commission staff conducted seven information sessions this month to promote understanding about requirements of the laws and encourage timely compliance with applicable requirements. For more information about the Form 700 Filing Officer briefings, and the February 17 mandatory Candidate and Treasurer information session, please see the Campaign Cycle Activities and Statement of Economic Interests sections below.

At the invitation of the Board of Supervisor’s new Energy Efficiency Coordinating Committee, I provided a brief overview of the Commission and its governmental ethics work at the Committee’s inaugural meeting on February 16, 2016.  The advisory Committee was created by the Board and will be working over the coming year to develop recommendations for it on ways to improve energy efficiency throughout the City and County of San Francisco.

4. Campaign Cycle Activities

Candidate Information Sessions

Ethics Commission staff held the first of a series of information sessions for candidates and treasurers on February 17 for the 2016 election cycle.  Fourteen individuals attended the session, which covered a range of detailed information that included candidate filing and campaign disclosure topics, matching funds program, and other key provisions of city campaign law.  Completion of a training session is mandatory for candidates for City elective office and their campaign treasurers.  Additional in-person sessions are scheduled for April, June and August.

Audit Program

As of February 22, audit work in connection with all pre-2015 campaign finance audits is undergoing final supervisory review prior to release to the committees for comment.  Audit work on the four lobbyist audits selected last year is 75 percent complete.  Next month, committees that will be audited in connection with their activities in the 2015 election will be chosen by random selection at the Commission’s March meeting, with those audits commencing shortly thereafter.  Staff continues to anticipate completing the 2015-cycle audits prior to the selection of 2016 audits.

Public Financing Program

The Ethics Commission’s new electronic filing system for submitting claims for the City’s public matching funds program went live effective February 5, 2016.  This means candidates seeking election to the Board of Supervisors in 2016 have been able to begin submitting their qualifying documentation for public funds with the Ethics Commission.  To date, two candidates have submitted documentation to qualify for public funding through the online system.  As a reminder, under changes to City law that took effect in May 2012, candidates who qualify for the program may not receive public funding disbursements until June 20, 2016, or 142 days before the election.

Campaign Disclosure Program and Upcoming Filing Deadlines

Over 300 campaign disclosure filings were submitted to our office in connection with the February 1, 2016 Semi-Annual reporting deadline, with 95 percent of these statements filed electronically.  As of February 22, six candidates/committees have outstanding campaign filings.  As the Staff’s normal practice, follow up compliance contacts have been made in an attempt to secure the required filings.

5. Other Program Highlights

Contact Lobbyist Program

Contact lobbyists are required to register within five business days of qualifying, and their registration terminates annually on February 1 unless they re-register for the upcoming calendar year.  The contact lobbyist re-registration deadline to pay the annual $500 fee was February 1, 2016.

As of mid-February 2016, 162 individuals were registered with the Commission as contact lobbyists.  This represents a 34 percent increase from the number of contact lobbyists registered at this time last year.  As of mid-February 2016, registration fees collected for contact lobbyists for FY16 amount to $97,500.

To date for FY16, registered contact lobbyists have submitted a total of 1,239 public monthly lobbying reports online with the Commission.  The next filing deadline for lobbyist monthly disclosures is March 15, 2016.  As is Staff’s normal practice each month, reminders of the deadline were sent to each contact lobbyist approximately one week prior to the deadline to help promote full and timely reporting compliance.

Campaign Consultant Program

Campaign consultants are required to register with the Ethics Commission once the threshold in section 1.505 of the Campaign Consultant Ordinance is met.  Each registered campaign consultant is required to re-register annually at the beginning of the calendar year.  As of mid-February 2016, 21 campaign consultants were registered with the Commission for 2016.  Campaign Consultants are required to submit their next quarterly reports no later than March 15, 2016.  These reports will cover the reporting period from December 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016.

Permit Consultant and Major Developer Programs  

As of February 22, 2016, approximately 50 individuals have registered as permit consultants.  In addition, three Major Developer disclosure filings have been received since December.  Staff is continuing to review, process and post these reports to the Ethics Commission’s website.  Late fees for both programs will apply beginning in April for registered permit consults and developers who file late disclosure reports for the first calendar quarter of 2016.

Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) Disclosure Program

In preparation for the April 1, Annual Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) filings, Commission staff held the first of two briefings for departmental filing officers on February 4.  Twenty-one people attended the session, representing 16 departments. Information about the annual filing was shared with Filing Officers on February 16, with a follow up courtesy distribution to all Department Heads this month.

6. Investigation and Enforcement Program

Investigative matters under the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission are treated as formal complaints if, based on the allegations and Executive Director’s preliminary review, the Executive Director determines there is reason to believe a violation of law may have occurred.  Once the Executive Director has determined with regard to a particular complaint that there is reason to believe a violation of law may have occurred, those complaints are logged as formal complaints.  As of mid-February 2016, 24 formal complaints alleging violations within the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction remained pending.  Table 1 summarizes the number of pending formal complaints by category.

Table 1 – Summary of Pending Formal Complaints, by Type

Type Number
Campaign Finance 8
Conflict of Interest 12
Governmental Ethics 2
Lobbyist Ordinance 1
Campaign Consultant Ordinance 1
Sunshine Ordinance 0
Total 24

7. Revenues Report

For Fiscal Year 2015-16, the Commission was budgeted to generate $70,000 in revenues.  As of February 15, 2016, as shown below in Table 2, the Commission has received $142,832, roughly 204 percent more than its anticipated revenues for the fiscal year.

Table 2 – Summary of FY 2015-16 Revenues

Source Budgeted Amount FY15-16 Receipts as of mid-February
Registration Fees
Contact Lobbyists $37,000 $98,500
Campaign Consultants $5,000 $10,650
Other, Ethics General (e.g., copies made by public) $1,000 $2
Late Fees
Statement of Economic Interests Filers $1,000 $1,660
Contact Lobbyist Filers $1,000 0
Campaign Consultant Filers $1,000 $1,700
Campaign Finance Fines (includes late fees and forfeitures) $23,000 $22,520
Administrative Fines Levied by the Commission
Ethics, Other $1,000 $7,800
Total $70,000 $142,832

8. Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR) Accounts

The following chart provides a status report summarizing active accounts that have been referred by the Ethics Commission to the San Francisco Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR).

  ID # Treasurer or Responsible Officer Date referral effective Original amount referred Last month’s balance Current balance   Status
Chris Jackson For Community College Board 1347066 Chris Jackson 7/12/13 $6,601 $6,601 $6,601 Judgement issued 11/18/15 Small Claims Court
Committee to Elect Norman For Supervisor 1327771 Jacqueline Norman 5/01/15 $9,000 $9,000 $9,000
Bob Squeri For District 7 Supervisor 2012 1346150 Bob Squeri 5/01/15 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Mark Farrell  For Supervisor 2010 1320480 Mark Farrell 7/08/15 $190,903 $190,903 $190,903
TOTAL $208,504

I look forward to answering any questions you might have in connection with this Executive Director’s report at the February 29th Commission meeting.

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