Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Announcement of Interested Persons Meetings to Discuss Revisions to Commission’s Fixed Penalty Policy

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 – 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 70 (basement)
San Francisco, CA 94102

and

Friday, November 22, 2019 – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 70 (basement)
San Francisco, CA 94102

Ethics Commission Staff will be holding two meetings to receive input on possible revisions to the Commission’s Fixed Penalty Policy, which the Commission adopted in July 2013. This Policy provides that certain violations of law are appropriate for resolution through a fixed penalty schedule, providing a level of standardization and predictability intended to reduce the uncertainty and time that negotiating a settlement might otherwise entail. The focus of these meetings will be to solicit broad public comment on the scope of potential revisions to that Policy.

Background

At the August 2019 regular meeting of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, Staff presented an overview of process improvements underway to increase the operational effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of the Commission’s enforcement program. The Commission indicated its interest in examining the existing Fixed Penalty Policy to expand the types of potential violations that the Policy might appropriately cover, and thereby streamline and accelerate the resolution of Commission enforcement matters overall. At the September 2019 Ethics Commission meeting, Staff outlined a proposed process for this review.

Input from the two November Interested Persons Meetings will help inform Staff’s development of an initial draft proposal of a Revised Fixed Penalty Policy for informational presentation to Commissioners at a subsequent Commission meeting. Following that discussion, Staff will revise the draft proposal as appropriate and hold additional Interested Persons Meetings to solicit further feedback on the revised proposal in advance of further discussion or action by the Commission.

Focus of Upcoming Sessions

To make the most effective use of attendees’ time, Staff will focus the discussion at the November Interested Persons Meetings on the following broad issues:

  • Governing Principles. What key governing principles should guide revisions to the Fixed Penalty Policy? The streamlined resolution of violations that can be substantiated with little to no investigation only? Violations that result in minimal public harm? Other considerations?
  • Number and Kind of Violations. Should the policy change the number and kind of campaign-related violations it covers? Should it also include violations of the City’s ethics or lobbying laws? If so, what kinds of violations?
  • Penalty Schedule. Should the penalty schedule be revised to increase or decrease the fine amounts that can be applied under the Fixed Penalty Policy? If so, would the schedule be based on the type, scope, or size of the violation? Should penalty amounts be revised to better incentivize early settlement of cases? Should the Policy provide explicitly for the use of warning letters in lieu of monetary penalties and, if so, under what circumstances?
  • Exclusions. Should the Policy identify factors that must be used or may be used to exclude respondents from participation in a streamlined administrative resolution program? If so, what?
  • Other Considerations. What other revisions should the Commission consider?

In addition to attendance, Staff welcomes written comments, which can be sent via email to ethics.commission@sfgov.org, or via U.S. mail to San Francisco Ethics Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102.

For questions about the upcoming Interested Persons Meetings, please contact Director of Enforcement Jeff Pierce at (415) 252-3100. We welcome your input and hope to see you at one of our upcoming meetings.

Please R.S.V.P by Contacting:

San Francisco Ethics Commission
25 Van Ness Ave., Suite 220
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 252-3100
ethics.commission@sfgov.org

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