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Executive Director’s Report – June 7, 2021

Date: June 7, 2021
To: Members of the Ethics Commission
From: LeeAnn Pelham, Executive Director
Subject: Agenda Item 11 – Executive Director’s Report for June 2021


This report provides various programmatic and operational highlights since the last Executive Director’s Report.

Action Requested

No action is required by the Commission, as this item is for informational purposes only.

Commission Communication on Controller’s Fifth Public Integrity Report  

Following the presentation by the Controller’s Office of its fifth public integrity report, “Refuse Rate-Setting Process Lacks Transparency and Timely Safeguard,” at the Commission’s May 14 meeting, the Commission voted unanimously to adopt a motion to “send a communication to the Mayor, Controller, Head of the SF Public Utilities Commission, and City Administrator, expressing the Commission’s endorsement of recommendations contained in the preliminary report on the refuse rate setting process and ask that the Commission be kept informed of the progress toward achieving those improvements.” This communication was sent on May 28, 2021.

Budget News

On June 1, Mayor Breed released her proposed $13.1 billion City budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22. As detailed in the Mayor’s budget proposal, the proposed operating budget for the Ethics Commission in FY22 is $6.55 million, reflecting a roughly 23.6 percent increase from the Commission’s FY22 operating base budget of $5.3 million and a roughly 38.7 percent increase from the Commission’s FY21 operating budget of $$4.72 million. As recommended by the Mayor, the budget proposes to fund the full set of recommendations for its operating budget put forward by the Ethics Commission in its FY22 Ethics Commission Budget request submitted to the Mayor’s Office on February 22, 2021. More details regarding the budget proposal have been provided in the budget report under Agenda Item 9.

Form 700 E-Filing Project Update

As our priority work to expand E-filing for all Form 700 Designated Filers continues toward a January 2022 launch, this month we initiated our departmental communications plan via an outreach to department heads. The information provided an overview fact sheet of the role departments will play in the transition to electronic filing, and provided information about the work our office will be doing to support them throughout the project.

Lobbying Disclosures Update

Staff completed a multi-year project to implement significant enhancements to the lobbyist electronic filing application and public access portal. As part of that effort, the project to develop a lobbyist data application programming interface (API) that will enable the Commission to provide lobbyist data to the public on the City’s open data portal, DataSF, is also complete. Staff is in the process of integrating the API with the DataSF portal.

 Audit Program Update

The 2018 campaign audit cycle was concluded this month. In sum, 23 final audit reports were issued. Fourteen of the campaign audits were mandatory audits of publicly financed candidates from the 2018 elections, while another nine were of non-candidate committees that had been selected in May 2019 for discretionary campaign audits based on an objective criteria standard from a pool of roughly 180 committees that were active in the 2018 elections.

Audits of the publicly financed candidates for this cycle were conducted with support from the Controller’s Office and engaged external auditors to perform those audits. Another nine audits of ballot measure and general purpose committees were completed by Audit Division staff.  Audits of two other non-candidate committees originally notified of their selection for discretionary audits on May 17, 2019 were administratively closed on May 17, 2021 due to ongoing resource constraints noted in my closure communications, which have also been posted for transparency purposes on our 2018 Audit Reports webpage. Together, the 23 completed audits from the 2018 cycle accounted for over $31 million in reported campaign expenditures, or roughly 56 percent of the $56.4 million in overall campaign expenditures reported for the 2018 election.

Hiring Update

The application period for the Senior Investigator and Legal Analyst position that had opened in early May closed on June 2. Applications submitted for that position are now being reviewed with the goal of conducting interviews this month. The job announcement for the vacant Auditor position is ready to be posted and is pending approval from the Mayor’s Budget Office on the request to fill the position.

Revenues Reports

The table below reflects revenues received by the Commission during the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2020, as of June 7, 2021.

Summary of FY20-21 Revenues

FY20-21 Budgeted Amount FY20-21 Receipts as of June 7, 2021
Lobbyist Registration Fees $85,000 $113,000
Lobbyists Fines $2,000 $1,800
Campaign Consultants Fees $7,000 $7,375
Contact Lobbyist and Other e.g., copies made by public $2,450 $530
Statement of Economic Interests Filings-Late Fees $1,250 $1,330
Campaign Consultant Fines $2,000 $1,900
Campaign Finance Fines (includes late fees and forfeitures) $50,000 $25,665
Ethics, Other/ Administrative Fines Levied by the Commission $7,500 $5,555*
Major Developer Fee $0 $500
Total $157,200 $157,655

*In May ED report this amount was incorrectly reported as $32,318 due to a clerical error. The amount has been revised in this report.

I look forward to answering any questions or providing further information at the upcoming Commission meeting.

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