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Announcement of Interested Persons Meetings to Discuss Strengthening City’s Government Ethics Laws

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM


Thursday, October 15, 2020 – 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM


These meetings will be conducted remotely using an online meeting platform. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to and you will be provided with a link to the meeting.

Please join staff from the Policy Division of the San Francisco Ethics Commission to share your thoughts on ways to strengthen San Francisco’s government ethics laws. In light of recent federal and local investigations into allegations of corrupt activity by City officials and contractors, the Commission has prioritized substantive policy review of several areas of the City’s government ethics rules for potential revision. As part of this process, we invite members of the public to share their thoughts about the City’s ethics and conflicts of interest laws and how they might be improved.

Aspects of San Francisco’s government ethics laws that will be discussed at these meetings will include:

  1. Gift Rules

San Francisco law regulates when City officials and employees may accept gifts and when they must report doing so.

  • What concerns do you have about City officials and employees accepting gifts and the current rules that apply to gifts?
  • What changes, if any, should be made to rules regarding City officials and employees accepting gifts? Possibilities might include broadening the definition of gift (or limiting exceptions to that definition), changing how gifts are reported, and changing what kinds of gifts are prohibited.
  • What rules should apply regarding gifts made to City departments.
  1. Conflict-of-Interest Rules

San Francisco law regulates conduct that may present a conflict between an official’s personal interests and the interests of the public. What concerns do you have about conflicts of interest in City government, and how do you think the rules could be improved?

Rules under review will include those regarding:

  • recusal, when an official abstains from acting on a matter to avoid a conflict of interests;
  • activities that are incompatible with one’s official duties;
  • payments solicited (or “behested”) by an official from a third party;
  • personal or professional relationships of officials that may affect their governmental decision making; and
  • post-employment restrictions.
  1. What approaches taken in other jurisdictions should be considered to strengthen the effectiveness of San Francisco’s government ethics laws?

All attendees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the City’s existing government ethics rules. The City Attorney’s Good Government Guide provides helpful summaries of gift rules (page 63), recusal rules (page 53), incompatible activities (page 57), behested payment rules (page 77), post-employment restrictions (page 55), and many other government ethics laws.

Staff also welcomes written comments, which can be sent via email to, or via U.S. mail to San Francisco Ethics Commission, 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102. Please note that due to the ongoing public health directives of the City and County of San Francisco, the Ethics Commission’s physical office is currently closed. Out review of mail received at this address may be delayed.

For questions about the upcoming Interested persons meetings, please contact Pat Ford at We welcome your input and hope to see you at one of our upcoming online meetings.

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