Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Executive Director’s Report – June 27, 2016

Date: June 22, 2016

To: Members of the Ethics Commission

From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director

Subject: AGENDA ITEM ­­10 – Executive Director’s Report for the June 27, 2016 Commission Meeting

Summary

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.

Budget and Staffing

I am very pleased to report that the Mayor’s budget announced May 31st includes funding the full budget package the Ethics Commission recommended in February for FY17 and FY18.  That package included the addition of four staff positions for investigative, compliance and policy work, and full funding for the development of the Commission’s new E-Filing Conversion Project. The Mayor’s budget proposes a base $3.3 million operating budget for FY17 for the Ethics Commission — a roughly 27 percent increase over the agency’s FY16 operating budget of $2.56 million — and a base of $3.49 million for FY18. It also includes allocations to the City’s Election Campaign Fund of roughly $668,000 and $2 million for FY17 and FY18, respectively

In addition, the budget includes one-time appropriation in FY17 to fund a Mayoral Senior Fellow at the Commission to create practical new online tools and resources to engage the public and promote compliance with city ethics, campaign and lobbying laws. Over the coming several months, the City’s partner, FUSECorps, will be conducting cross-sector outreach and recruitments for individuals to fill these limited number, one-year competitive positions within the City beginning in October 2016.

The Ethics Commission budget was scheduled to be heard by the Board of Supervisor’s Budget Committee on June 16.  As the Committee convened, Committee Chair Farrell noted that it was the Committee’s intent, in the interest of time, that all small departments that did not have Budget & Legislative Analyst reports would be forwarded on to the full Board without discussion or comment by the Committee; it was the intent of the Committee to not modify any department budgets that did not have BLA reports.  The Committee received public comment on the proposed budget on June 20 and is expected to take formal action next week. A copy of the Staff’s planned Ethics Commission presentation to the Budget Committee was posted on the Commission’s website and appears Attachment 1 for your information.

I am sorry to announce that Angeles Huang’s last day with the Ethics Commission was June 3rd. Angeles was an Auditor at the Commission for over six years, specializing in campaign audits and public financing reviews, and she played a critical role in supporting the agency’s budget work during her tenure. Angeles recently decided to spend more time with family and pursue new professional opportunities, and we wish her well in her well-earned time off, and continued success in her professional endeavors.

Outreach

On May 24, 2016, Staff was invited to present the Ethics Commission’s Campaign Finance Dashboards and Democracy Facts label data visualizations to members of the Citywide Analysts Network (CAN) at an event at the Koret Auditorium.  At the event, City employees learned about how departments are using Tableau, a data visualization product, to better understand and make use of City data.

On June 1, staff conducted its third training session of 2016 for candidates and their treasurers.  Two more training sessions are scheduled for candidates this year.  On June 7, staff conducted a training session for treasurers of ballot measure committees, and will conduct a training session for treasurers of general purpose committees on June 28.

On June 9, staff met informally for two “meet and greets” hosted by the Department of Human Resources’ Employee Relations Office with representatives from MEA, the Management Employee Association, and Local 21.

Policy and Legislation

  • The ordinance to enact the Commission’s Whistleblower Protection Ordinance amendments was introduced by Board President London Breed on Tuesday, June 14 (File No. 160689), and was assigned under the 30-day rule to the Rules Committee.  A copy of the Legislative Digest and ordinance language, as introduced, appears at Attachment 2.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Ordinance regulations adopted by the Commission on March 28, 2016, took effect May 28, 2016. Under San Francisco Charter section 15.102, regulations adopted by the Ethics Commission must be referred to the Board of Supervisors, which has 60 days after adoption to hold a hearing for the purpose of vetoing the regulation. The deadline was May 28, 2016; no hearing was requested, and therefore the regulations took effect May 28, 2016.

Campaign Cycle Activities

Campaign Finance Program and Upcoming Filing Deadlines

At this time a total of 102 candidates are filing campaign statements with our office in connection with the June Primary and November General elections. Record numbers of campaign statements were electronically filed for the June election. Candidates in the Democratic County Central Committee 17th and 19th Assembly Districts races raised an estimated $1.3 million in contributions and made $1.3 million in expenditures. Staff has published the June and November election financial summaries on the Commission’s Campaign Finance Dashboards webpage: https://www.sfethics.org/ethics/2016/06/campaign-finance-dashboards-june-7-2016-and-november-8-2016-elections.html.  The next filing deadline is August 1, 2016, for the 1st Semi-Annual statement that covers the period through June 30, 2016.

Public Financing Program

As of June 21, 2016, nine Supervisorial candidates running for office in the November 8, 2016 election have submitted Qualifying Requests for the public financing program. Seven of these nine candidates have been certified as eligible to receive public funds, and the Qualifying Requests of two candidates are under review. Staff is also reviewing Matching Requests submitted by the candidates who have been certified as eligible for public funds. To date, staff has approved over $220,000 to be disbursed in public funds.  Under the law, June 20 was the earliest date on which candidates were able to receive public funds disbursements.

Audit Program

Since my last report, we have completed one audit of 11 that have remained underway. Auditors continue to conduct audits of the public financing candidates in the 2015 election, as well as 10 remaining pre-2015 audit reports (six campaign committees and four lobbyists).  The loss of one auditor this month and the competing pressing need for Audit staff to conduct timely Qualifying and Matching Requests for the public financing program has challenged our ability to complete all audits by the June 30 target date.

Other Program Highlights

Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) Disclosure Program

On June 14, the Commission released a new online tool to provide the public with improved access to the electronically filed financial disclosures of more than 500 City officials, including elected officials, department heads, and members of boards and commissions who are required to file a Statements of Economic Interests, or “Form 700,” under State law.  The new search feature available on the Commission’s website now enables the public to search within the contents of officials’ Form 700s, and across all filers, rather than having the forms viewable only individually in pdf format.  Through a continued partnership with the Mayor’s Open Data initiative, the Form 700 data was also made accessible through the SF OpenData web portal, making San Francisco the first California city to offer electronically filed financial disclosure records of public officials as “open data.”

Since the May Executive Director’s report, staff has worked with more than one dozen departments to review their respective lists of designated filers in connection with this year’s required update of the City’s Conflict of Interest Code. This process is also helping to identify empirically across departments the types of positions are listed as designated filers, and the range of disclosure categories that apply to them. This information will be important as we resume discussions with employee organizations about extending the Form 700 online filing requirement to all designated filers.

Contact Lobbyist Program

As of June 17, 2016, 158 individuals were registered with the Commission as contact lobbyists.  This represents a 20 percent increase from the number of contact lobbyists registered at this time last year. Lobbyist monthly disclosures were due June 15, 2016.  As is Staff’s normal practice each month, reminders of the deadline were sent to each registered contact lobbyist approximately two days prior to the deadline to help promote full and timely reporting compliance.  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.

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-June 2016, 34 campaign consultants were registered with the Commission for 2016.  Campaign Consultants are required to submit their next quarterly reports no later than September 15, 2016.  These reports will cover the reporting period from June 1, 2016 through August 31, 2016.

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-June 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, as of Mid-June, 2016

Type Number
Campaign Finance 8
Conflict of Interest 10
Governmental Ethics 3
Lobbyist Ordinance 1
Campaign Consultant Ordinance 1
Sunshine Ordinance 1
Total 24

Revenues Report

Table 2 shows the revenues received during the current fiscal year by the Commission as of June 21, 2016.  The $173,954 received through that date is roughly 248 percent more than the $70,000 figure budgeted for FY2015-16.

Table 2 – Summary of FY 2015-16 Revenues as of June 21, 2016

Source Budgeted Amount FY15-16 Receipts as of mid-May
Registration Fees
      Contact Lobbyists $37,000 $107,870
      Campaign Consultants $5,000 $18,100
Other, Ethics General (e.g., copies made by public) $1,000                     $10
Late Fees
     Statement of Economic Interests Filers $1,000 $1,940
     Contact Lobbyist Filers $1,000 500
     Campaign Consultant Filers $1,000 $1,850
     Campaign Finance Fines (includes late fees and forfeitures) $23,000 $34,174
Administrative Fines Levied by the Commission
     Ethics, Other $1,000 $9,510
Total $70,000 $173,954

Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR) Accounts

The following chart summarizes active accounts that have been referred by the Ethics Commission.

Committee/Filer 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 Judgment 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 Legal Referral on 5/1/16
Isabel Urbano 153993 Isabel Urbano 3/23/16 $7,000 $7,000
TOTAL $215,504

I look forward to answering any questions you might have in connection with this Executive Director’s report at the June 27th Commission meeting.

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