Announcement of Interested Persons Meetings to Discuss Behested Payment Regulations

Thursday, September 22, 2022 – 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

And

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 – 11:30 AM to 1:00 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 forthcoming regulations regarding the City’s behested payment rules. In January, a new law went into effect that prohibits City officials and designated employees from soliciting behested payments from any person who is an “interested party” for them as defined in local law. In August, the Ethics Commission approved legislation that would make various changes to this law. The recently approved changes are currently being considered by the Board of Supervisors.

The Ethics Commission is responsible for creating regulations that are consistent with and related to carrying out the purposes and provisions of City ethics laws. The Commission’s regulations are an opportunity for the Commission to clarify and interpret City ethics laws, and ease compliance by providing additional details, definitions, interpretations, and illustrations of how City ethics laws function in practice.

As part of this regulation development process, we invite members of the public to share their thoughts about the City’s behested laws and how they should be clarified and illustrated. The two meetings will each have the same agenda, and participants are welcome to join one or both meetings.

Aspects of San Francisco’s behested payment laws and potential regulations that will be discussed at these meetings may include:

  • Defining what it means to ‘solicit’ a behested payment: City law (3.620(a)) prohibits certain City officials from soliciting behested payments from interested parties, however the term ‘solicit’ is not explicitly defined in the Code. How should ‘solicit’ be defined?
    • Is it a solicitation if an interested party approaches a City official to offer a gift to the City and the official coordinates the acceptance of the gift?
    • Can a City department apply for a competitive grant from an interested party or should that be considered a solicitation?
    • Should negotiating, entering into, or performing pursuant to grant agreement or contract, between the City and an interested party, be considered a solicitation?
  • Clarifying and illustrating what an ‘interested party’ is: The current definition of ‘interested party’ in the Code would be changed if the Board approves the legislation currently under consideration. Either based on current law, or the proposed legislation, what aspects of this definition need to be clarified? What questions exist about when someone is or is not an interested party?
  • Clarifying and illustrating when a payment is made ‘at the behest of’ a City official: City law defines ‘at the behest of’ to mean “under the control or at the direction of, in cooperation, consultation, coordination, or concert with, at the request or suggestion of, or with the express, prior consent of” (3.610). What aspects of this definition need to be clarified?
  • Specifying how leases should be valued: City contractors are interested parties for City officials. City contractors are persons who contract with, or are seeking to contract with, a City department when the total anticipated or actual value of the contract is $100,000 or more within a fiscal year (1.126). In situations where the City is leasing out real property, how should the value of that lease be determined?
  • Clarifying and illustrating when an ‘indirect solicitation’ is made: City law (3.620(b)) prohibits City officials from indirectly soliciting behested payments. What aspects of this prohibition need to be clarified?
  • Clarifying and illustrating how the ‘public appeals’ exception functions: City law exempts solicitations made through a public appeal as defined in the Code (3.610). What aspects of this exception need to be clarified?
  • Clarifying how the recently proposed exceptions would function: The legislation recently approved by the Commission that is currently being considered by the Board of Supervisors would create several new exceptions. What questions exist regarding these exceptions as written? What aspects of these exceptions need further clarification?

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.

The meetings will be conducted remotely via an online meeting platform. The 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 or both of our upcoming online meetings.

Was this page helpful?

QR Code to Access Page

Scan the QR code with a mobile device camera to access the latest version of this document online:
https://sfethics.org/ethics/2022/08/announcement-of-interested-persons-meetings-to-discuss-behested-payment-regulations.html