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Ethics Commission Certifies Eligibility of First Publicly Financed Candidates in District 5 Board of Supervisor Race for the November 2020 Elections


Contact:  Ethics Commission (415) 252-3100

The Ethics Commission announced today the first certification of a candidate running for office in connection with the November 2020 Board of Supervisors District 5 election as eligible to receive public funds. As required under the law, the announcement by Commission Executive Director LeeAnn Pelham was made following her determination that District 5 candidate Dean Preston is qualified to receive public financing based on a review by Ethics Commission staff of documentation submitted by the candidate against eligibility criteria established under City law. Under the City’s system of partial public financing, which was first established by San Francisco voters in November 2000, the Dean Preston for Supervisor 2020 committee is now eligible to receive a $60,000 initial grant from the City’s voter-approved Election Campaign Fund. In addition, all other candidates in the District 5 Supervisorial race must now begin filing supplemental threshold statements with the Ethics Commission to report reaching certain levels of fundraising or spending.

Public campaign financing programs are designed to strengthen the accountability of candidates to the voters who elect them. Candidates who meet established criteria can qualify to receive limited amounts of public funds for their campaigns and can spend less time fundraising and more time discussing issues important to their constituents. By increasing the importance of relatively small, individual contributions in election campaigns, public financing helps encourage new and diverse voices among candidates as well as those whom they are elected to represent.

To qualify for public campaign funding in San Francisco, the law requires non-incumbent candidates to the Board of Supervisors to demonstrate that they have raised qualifying contributions ranging from $10 to $100 totaling $10,000 from at least 100 residents of the City. Incumbent candidates seeking re-election to the Board of Supervisors must demonstrate that they have received qualifying contributions from $10 to $100 totaling $15,000 from at least 150 City residents.

As a condition to receive public funding, Supervisorial candidates must also agree to abide by a $350,000 initial campaign expenditure ceiling. Non-incumbent candidates may qualify to receive up to $255,000 in public funds for their campaign depending on the amount of matching contributions they raise, while incumbents may qualify to receive up to $252,000 in public funds. Under the law, only contributions raised from San Francisco residents are eligible to be matched.

The Election Campaign Fund is funded through the City’s General Fund with an annual appropriation based on the number of city residents, up to a maximum Fund level of $7 million. Before receiving any public funds, Supervisorial candidates certified as eligible by the Ethics Commission must also be certified by the Department of Elections as a candidate whose name will appear on the ballot. Under a City law enacted in 2012, public funds may not be disbursed to candidates any earlier than 142 days before the election, which for the November election was June 15, 2020. All candidates who receive public funds are required under the law to be audited by the Ethics Commission after the election.

For more information about the City’s public financing program, please visit the Commission’s website or contact the Commission at



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