Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Ethics Commission Fines Union Political Action Committee for Failure to File Mandatory Campaign Statements

Date: July 23, 2018
Contact: Pat Ford (415) 252-3100

At its monthly meeting on July 20, 2018, the San Francisco Ethics Commission approved a settlement agreement with the UNITE HERE Local 2 Political Action Committee (UNITE HERE), in which UNITE HERE agreed to pay a $5,500 penalty for failing to file two late contribution reports as City and state law require.

As detailed in a Stipulation, Decision, and Order, the Commission assessed the penalty against UNITE HERE for two counts in violation of California Government Code section 84203, as incorporated by section 1.106 of the San Francisco Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code. Section 84203 requires a committee that makes a late contribution to report it within twenty-four hours. State law defines a late contribution to mean any contribution (including a loan) totaling in the aggregate at least $1,000 during the ninety-day period preceding an election. Late contribution reports exist to ensure that voters have timely and accurate information about the sources of campaign finance in that critical window leading up to election day.

Here, the Commission’s Audit Staff randomly selected UNITE HERE as the subject of an audit for the 2015 audit cycle pursuant to its powers under San Francisco Charter section C3.699-11. Audit staff discovered the omitted filings and reported them on January 17, 2017, in a Final Audit covering UNITE HERE’s political activity during the period of January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. Auditors determined that in August 2014 UNITE HERE made a late contribution of $4,100 to the committee David Campos for Assembly 2014 and failed to report it within the required twenty-four-hour period. Auditors likewise determined that in September 2015 UNITE HERE made a late contribution of $5,000 to the Committee to Save the Mission, Yes on Prop. I and again failed to report it within twenty-four hours. In each instance UNITE HERE disclosed the late contribution separately, on its general campaign statement for each period, in one instance ahead of the election and in the other instance after the election had already taken place.

The Ethics Commission previously assessed late fees against UNITE HERE for filing campaign statements after the deadline, including an October 2012 fee for seventeen late-filed statements, a September 2015 fee for one late-filed statement, and a February 2016 fee for one late-filed statement. Section 1.170 of the Campaign & Governmental Conduct Code governs how the Commission assess late fees (in contrast to penalties it may assess for omitted filings and other violations of campaign finance law).

Copies of the Stipulation, Decision, and Order can be obtained on the Ethics Commission’s website or by contacting the Commission at ethics.commission@sfgov.org or (415) 252-3100.

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