Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Summary of Actions Taken and Matters Discussed at Ethics Commission May 23, 2016 Regular Meeting

Date: May 24, 2016
Contact: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director (415) 252-3100

At its regular meeting on May 23, 2016, the San Francisco Ethics Commission discussed the following matters and took the following actions:

  • Announced this was the last meeting for Commissioner Vice-Chair Brett Andrews, who had notified Commission Chairperson Renne that he was resigning his position after the May 23rd meeting. The Commission thanked him for the many contributions he made to the work of the Commission during the five years he served on the Commission following his appointment by the Board of Supervisors.
  • Unanimously elected Commissioner Peter Keane to serve as Commission Vice-Chair for the remainder of the coming year due to Commissioner Andrews’ resignation.
  • Discussed and heard public comment on the City’s post-employment restriction waiver requests from Ms. Julie Christensen. The Commission voted 5-0 to grant a waiver of both the one-year communication bans in SF C&GCC section 3.234(a)(2) and 3.234(b)(1) and the one-year restriction on employment with parties that contract with the City in SF C&GCC section 3.234(a)(3).
  • Discussed a Staff report and took further public comment on alternatives for a possible November 2016 ballot measure to restrict lobbyists’ ability to provide gifts to City officers, make campaign contributions to local candidates, and bundle contributions. The Commission requested Staff to draft language for a ballot measure for its consideration and possible action at its next regular meeting on June 27.
  • Discussed and received public comment on the May 2016 Executive Director’s report.
  • Voted 5-0 to approve the draft minutes for its regular meeting of April 25, 2016 as presented.
  • After taking public comment, voted 5-0 to assert attorney-client privilege and meet in closed session under Brown Act section 54957.1 and Sunshine Ordinance section 67.12 to discuss existing litigation in the matter of Mark Farrell for District 2 Supervisor 2010, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco, et al, Case No. CGC-16-551745, S.F. Superior Court (filed April 29, 2016).
    • After re-convening in open session, the Commission announced that it had discussed the matter listed and instructed the City Attorney’s Office to defend the suit vigorously and to file a response and cross-complaint to recover the monies that were the subject matter of the forfeiture letter.
  • After taking public comment, voted 5-0 to assert attorney-client privilege and meet in closed session under Charter section C3.699-13, Brown Act section 54956.9, and Sunshine Ordinance section 67.10(d) to discuss and take possible action on anticipated litigation as plaintiff concerning possible violation of SF C&GCC section 3.230(a), a prohibition on knowingly, directly or indirectly, soliciting political contributions from other City officers or employees.
    • After re-convening in open session, the Commission announced that it had unanimously voted to accept three separate stipulated agreements on behalf of Respondents George Gascón, Cristine Soto DeBerry, and Michael Swart, wherein each stipulated to have violated SF C&GCC section 3.230(a).  District Attorney Gascón agreed to pay a fine of $4,000; Ms. DeBerry agreed to pay a fine of $1,500; Mr. Swart agreed to pay a fine of $1,500.  The approved stipulated agreements will be posted on the Commission’s website. The Commission also announced that other Respondents would receive warning letters.  Chairperson Renne stated that he hoped the disposition of this matter would be a message to all City officials and employees regarding the ban of solicitation of City employees.

Draft Minutes for the May 23, 2016 meeting will be available upon their completion and will be included on the Agenda for the Commission’s next Regular Meeting. The next Regular Meeting of the Ethics Commission is scheduled for Monday, June 27, 2016 in Room 400 of City Hall at 5:30 pm.

For further information, please feel free to contact 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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