Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Ethics Commission Approves “San Francisco Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance”

Recommendations to be Transmitted to Board of Supervisors for Adoption

For Immediate Release
Date: November 28, 2017
Contact: LeeAnn Pelham, (415) 252-3100

At its regular monthly meeting on November 27, 2017, the San Francisco Ethics Commission gave final approval by a vote of 4-1 to recommend and transmit to the Board of Supervisors its Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance that proposes new restrictions and public disclosure requirements on certain city officials and the interests that benefit from actions by those officials. First proposed by Commission Chair Peter Keane in March 2017, and further developed and refined through extensive public comment at Commission hearings and additional “interested persons” meetings with Commission Staff, the ordinance is designed to strengthen City campaign finance laws to help reduce the potential for corruption or the appearance of corruption in governmental decision making.

“The heightened transparency and new rules proposed by the Ethics Commission will help expose and disarm attempts to use money to get favorable treatment from City government,” said Commission Chair Peter Keane, “and we urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt the Ordinance into law.” He added: “There is no place for pay-to-play politics in San Francisco, and the people of San Francisco deserve strong laws that help ensure all City decisions are made based on the merits and that helps keep government working in the public’s interest.”

Commissioners Keane, Chiu, Renne and Lee voted for the proposed Ordinance, while Commissioner Kopp voted no, citing his desire to see several stronger provisions among the Commission’s recommendations. As adopted by the Ethics Commission, the Ordinance would:

  • create or expand certain prohibitions on political contributions, including a ban on contributions from City contractors, prospective City contractors, and parties with a financial interest in a City land use decision to any official who will decide on the person’s contract or land use matter;
  • institute new disclosure requirements to better inform the public about money being raised and spent on political campaigns or at the behest of a City official, including local rules for reporting what are known as “behested payments;” and
  • create new rules regarding conflicts of interest, including prohibitions on City officials using their positions to obtain something of value for themselves or accepting something of value that is likely to influence their official actions.

The Commission voted 3-2 at its regular meeting on October 23 to approve an earlier draft of the ordinance, with Commissioners Keane, Renne, and Kopp voting in support and Commissioners Chiu and Lee voting against, citing concerns about a proposed rule that would prohibit an official from asking a person with a matter before him or her to give something of value to a third party. Because a minimum of four votes by the Ethics Commission is required to propose changes to the underlying laws the Ordinance would amend, the Commission voted in October to request Vice-Chair Chiu to work with Staff and others to evaluate and resolve outstanding policy questions for the Commission’s meeting on November 27. At Monday’s meeting, Chair Keane thanked Vice-Chair Chiu and Commissioner Lee for their work with interested persons to develop an approach and build further on a disclosure system for behested payments previously proposed by Supervisor Peskin and passed by the Board.

The Commission will transmit its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, where at least eight votes will be required to adopt the proposed changes. In addition, the Commission retains the ability under San Francisco Charter Section 15.102 to place a proposed ordinance on the ballot as a measure to be decided directly by San Francisco voters.

For more information, visit the Ethics Commission’s website at sfethics.org or contact the 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, including the assessment of fines through its administrative enforcement authority. 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 https://www.sfethics.org.

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