Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Public Announcement of Enforcement Action – Ethics Commission Fines District Attorney and Two DA Staff for Soliciting Campaign Contributions in from Other City Employees at 2014 Staff Fundraiser in Violation of City Law

Date: May 24, 2016
For More Information Contact Shaista Shaikh at (415) 252-3100

At its monthly public meeting on May 23rd, the San Francisco Ethics Commission unanimously approved three stipulated orders with fines totaling $7,000 in connection with a November 2014 fundraising event held by employees of the District Attorney’s Office to benefit the 2015 re-election campaign of District Attorney George Gascón.  San Francisco Campaign and Government Conduct Code Section 3.230(a) prohibits City officers and employees from knowingly, directly or indirectly, soliciting political contributions from other City officers and employees. The three stipulations resulted from an Ethics Commission investigation into the November 2014 fundraising event held at Ted’s Sports Bar & Grill:

  • Mr. Gascón acknowledged having knowingly participated in the fundraising event involving other City employees in a manner that constitutes an indirect solicitation of campaign contributions from those employees. He agreed to pay a $4,000 penalty for violating Sec. 3.230(a). (View Approved Stipulation)
  • In a separate settlement, Cristine Soto DeBerry, the District Attorney’s Chief of Staff, agreed to pay a $1,500 fine in connection with the event for having knowingly asked another City employee to raise funds from other City employees in a manner that constituted an indirect solicitation of campaign contributions in violation of Sec.230(a). (View Approved Stipulation)
  • In a third stipulation, Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart, who organized the event at the request of Ms. DeBerry, acknowledged directly asking attendees at the event to make a contribution in support of Mr. Gascon’s reelection, and agreed to a $1,500 fine for a knowing and direct solicitation in violation of Sec. 3.230(a). (View Approved Stipulation)

“This law is designed to uphold the integrity of public service by ensuring that the performance of public duties, not political performance, is the basis for government employment and advancement,” said Commission Chair Paul A. Renne. “We hope this disposition will be a message to all City officers and employees about the important purpose this ban serves.”

According to the City Charter, a violation of Sec. 3.230 carries a maximum administrative penalty of $5,000.  Ethics Commission regulations provide that stipulated orders must be approved by the Commission and must be announced publicly upon their approval.  Fines levied in a stipulated settlement by the Commission are paid to the General Fund of the City and County of San Francisco. The stipulated settlements approved by the Commission resolve all factual and legal issues without holding an administrative hearing.

Copies of the stipulations may be obtained at www.sfethics.org, or by contacting the Ethics Commission at 415.252.3100.

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The Ethics Commission, established in November 1993, serves the public, City employees and officials and candidates for public office through education and enforcement of ethics laws. Its duties include: filing and auditing of campaign finance disclosure statements, lobbyist and campaign consultant registration and regulation, administration of the public financing program, whistleblower program, conflict of interest reporting, investigations and enforcement, education and training, advice giving and statistical reporting. We invite you to follow our work at www.sfethics.org.

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