Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Behested Payments Reporting by City Board and Commission Members Becomes Operative January 1, 2018

Notice of Operative Date for Approved Legislation

On January 10, 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11-0 to enact an ordinance requiring new reporting by City Board and Commission members of certain payments they request from persons with matters pending before their board or commission. This “behested payments” reporting requirement was signed into law by the Mayor on January 20, 2017, and becomes operative on January 1, 2018.

Overview of Enacted Law

As adopted, the ordinance requires members of boards and commissions who are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700) to disclose if they directly or indirectly request or solicit payments of $1,000 from parties or participants (or their agents) while certain matters are pending before that board or commission. The disclosure requirement applies to both monetary and non-monetary contributions to a government agency, educational institution, and both 501(c) and Section 527 tax-exempt organizations.

Under existing state law, when a payment of $5,000 or more from a single source is made at the “behest” of a local elected official for a legislative, governmental, or charitable purpose, that official must file a “behested payment report.”* This reporting requirement applies when there has been a single payment of $5,000 or more, or a series of payments over the course of a calendar year, from a single source. After reaching the $5,000 threshold, elected officials subject to this requirement must file a behested payment report with their departments within 30 days. Within another 30 days, such reports must be forwarded from those departments to the Ethics Commission. Prior to adoption of the new law, no “behested payment reporting” requirement applied to members of City boards and commissions, unless they are also elected officials.

The new law requires members of City boards and commissions who are required to file Statements of Economic Interests (Form 700) to file a behested payment report when they solicit payments directly or indirectly, from a party, participant, or agent of a party or participant involved in an administrative proceeding before the board or commission.

A member of a board or commission must file a behested payment report if:

  • the party, participant or agent of a party or participant makes a payment, or a series of payments, totaling $1,000 or more while the proceeding is pending before the commissioner’s board or commission;
  • the party, participant or agent of a party or participant makes a payment, or a series of payments, totaling $1,000 or more during the three months following the date a final decision is rendered in the proceeding; or
  • if the party, participant or agent of a party or participant makes a payment, or a series of payments, totaling $1,000 or more in the 12 months prior to the commencement of a proceeding, after the commissioner learns or should have learned that the source of the payment became involved in a proceeding before the board or commission.

Members of City boards and commissions will be required to report information similar to that currently required of elected officials. These reports must be filed with the Ethics Commission, and the Ethics Commission will be required to make them available through its website.

In addition, any member of a City board or commission who fails to comply with the reporting requirements is subject to the administrative, civil or criminal remedies that generally apply to violations of local conflict-of-interest laws.

For More Information

The Ethics Commission is working diligently to put processes in place to implement the new behested payments provisions – including a process for filing the new behested payments reports – and to help inform those affected by the new law to understand and comply with these requirements. Please feel free to contact the Commission with any questions at (415) 252-3100, or by email at ethics.commission@sfgov.org.

*See Cal. Gov. Code § 82015(b)(2)(B)(iii). At the time of publication, pending state legislation would define behested payment in Cal. Gov. Code § 82004.5, define made at the behest of in Cal. Gov. Code § 82041.3, and relocate behested payment reporting to Cal. Gov. Code § 84224.

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