Announcement of Interested Persons Meetings to Discuss Strengthening San Francisco’s Gift Laws 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM 

And 

Thursday, April 29, 2021 – 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 michael.a.canning@sfgov.org and you will be provided with a link to the meeting shortly before the date of 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 gift 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 gift laws and how they might be improved. The two meetings will each have the same agenda, and participants are welcome to join one or both meetings 

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

  • For purposes of San Francisco’s gift rules (including the restricted source rule), should state-law gift exceptions continue to apply?  
  • These exceptions apply to many types of gifts, including gifts from close personal friends, reciprocal exchanges of gifts, gifts given in a dating relationship, gifts of home hospitality, wedding and bereavement gifts, and “acts of human compassion,” among others. 
  • Should local exceptions to the restricted source rule continue to apply?  
  • These exceptions allow officials and employees to accept unlimited food and drink to be shared in the office, as well as low value, non-cash gifts of any type, from restricted sources.   
  • Does the restricted source rule need to be clarified in that it applies to directors, officers, and shareholders of a business entity (and not solely to the entity itself)?  
  • Should the restricted source rule also prohibit the giving of a gift by a restricted source?  
  • Currently, the rule only prohibits the solicitation or receipt of a restricted source gift by a City official or employee.  
  • Should the restricted source rule apply to gifts to City departments?  
  • Currently, the rule only applies to gifts made to individual officers and employees.  
  • Should the City’s rule against bribery continue to be limited only to bribes that meet the sate-law definition of gift, or should it cover all things of value that are given with the intent to influence official action?  
  • Do the City’s rules regarding gifts of travel need to be improved?   
  • Currently, officials can accept gifts that would otherwise be prohibited if the gift consists of payments for certain travel expenses. Elected officials must typically disclose gifts of travel. 
  • What approaches taken in other jurisdictions should be considered to strengthen the effectiveness of San Francisco’s gift laws? 

All attendees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the City’s existing gift rulesThe City Attorney’s Good Government Guide provides helpful summaries of gift rules beginning on page 63 

Staff also welcomes written comments, which can be sent via email to michael.a.canning@sfgov.org, 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. 

The meetings will be conducted remotely via WebexThe week of the meetings, Staff will distribute links to the meetings via email to all attendees who RSVP.    

For questions about the upcoming interested persons meetings, or to RSVP, please contact Michael Canning at michael.a.canning@sfgov.org. We welcome your input and hope to see you at one of our upcoming online meetings. 

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