Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

New Conflict-of-Interest Rules for Elective Officers and Members of City Boards and Commissions

July 2, 2018

On June 30, 2018, new provisions of the San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code (“Code”) became operative that may impact elective officers and members of boards and commissions for the City and County of San Francisco.

First, section 3.231, enacted by the Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance, establishes restrictions on fundraising activities of members of boards and commissions. Under the new law, members of a board or commission are prohibited from fundraising for their appointing authority if the individual’s appointing authority is a City elective officer. The ban also extends to fundraising for any committee controlled by that appointing authority and to fundraising for any candidate seeking election to the office held by the appointing authority.

Under the new section 3.231(b), each of the following activities constitutes “fundraising” and is prohibited in any of the circumstances described above:

  • requesting that another person make a contribution;
  • inviting a person to a fundraising event;
  • supplying names to be used for invitations to a fundraiser;
  • permitting one’s name or signature to appear on a solicitation for contributions or an invitation to a fundraising event;
  • permitting one’s official title to be used on a solicitation for contributions or an invitation to a fundraising event;
  • providing the use of one’s home or business for a fundraising event;
  • paying for at least 20% of the costs of a fundraising event;
  • hiring another person to conduct a fundraising event;
  • delivering a contribution, other than one’s own, by whatever means to a City elective officer, a candidate for City elective office, or a candidate-controlled committee; or
  • acting as an agent or intermediary in connection with the making of a contribution.

Also, under new Code section 3.321, City elective officers and members of boards and commissions are prohibited from soliciting subordinate City employees to engage in uncompensated volunteer services for any campaign, either for or against a candidate or a ballot measure.

Additionally, a new Code section 3.207 prohibits certain activities as conflicts of interests. Under the new law, you may not use your position to seek anything of value for your own personal benefit or the benefit of your family member or an organization with which you are associated. Also, you may not promise to use or withhold your vote or influence in exchange for another person making or refraining from making a contribution. Lastly, you may not solicit or accept anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence your vote, official action, or judgment with respect to a particular pending legislative or administrative action or be considered a reward for official action.

These new provisions of the Code were enacted by the Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance (Board of Supervisors File No. 180280), which was proposed by the Ethics Commission, approved by the Board of Supervisors, and, on May 30th, signed by the Mayor.

These new provisions build on existing City laws, which already prohibit City officers and employees from knowingly soliciting other City officers or employees for campaign contributions, and from participating in political activities while in uniform, during work hours, or on city premises:

  • Solicitation of Contributions. No City officer or employee shall knowingly, directly or indirectly, solicit political contributions from other City officers or employees or from persons on employment lists of the City. Nothing in this Section shall prohibit a City officer or employee from communicating through the mail or by other means requests for political contributions to a significant segment of the public which may include City officers or employees.
  • Political Activities in Uniform. No City officer or employee shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.
  • Political Activities on City Time or Premises. No City officer or employee may engage in political activity during working hours or on City premises. For the purposes of this Subsection, the term “City premises” shall not include City owned property that is made available to the public and can be used for political purposes.

For information at any time about the provisions of the City’s campaign finance, ethics, or lobbying laws, please visit https://sfethics.org/ or contact us at ethics.commission@sfgov.org or (415) 252-3100. We will be happy to assist you.

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