August 18, 2023
For information: Patrick Ford, Director of Enforcement (415) 252-3100
At its regular monthly meeting on Friday August 18, 2023, the San Francisco Ethics Commission approved two separate settlement agreements that levied a total of $35,525 in penalties against five respondents for violations of conflict of interest, personal financial reporting, lobbyist, and campaign finance laws.
In the Matter of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Education Fund, Brian Wiedenmeier, and Janice Li – The Commission approved a total of $11,325 in penalties through a settlement agreement with the 501(c)(4) non-profit the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, its associated 501(c)(3) Education Fund, and two former employees for 12 lobbying counts and one campaign finance count. The law requires that lobbyists register and report their contacts of City officers so that the public can have confidence in the fairness and responsiveness of local government decision-making. Without this transparency, the public is not aware of potential influences on government officials. Over a period of five years from 2017 to 2021, Respondents Wiedenmeier and Li, Executive Director and Advocacy Director for the Bicycle Coalition, respectively, made a total of 389 reportable lobbying contacts on behalf of the without registering or reporting as lobbyists, as required under City law.
The law also requires multi-purpose organizations, such as non-profits, to register as a political committee when they accept payments from donors with an understanding that the money will be used for making political expenditures. Registering and reporting as a political committee gives the public important information about individuals and organizations spending money to influence elections. In 2022, the Education Fund raised and spent money for the purpose of supporting and opposing Propositions I and J in the November 2022 San Francisco General Election, but failed to timely register and report this political activity. The Education Fund eventually filed the proper campaign statements before the election.
In the Matter of Frank Fung – The Commission also unanimously approved a stipulated agreement fining Frank Fung, former Planning Commissioner, $24,200 for two counts of violating City ethics laws regarding contracting with the City and public disclosure rules. It is crucial that City and County contracts should be, and should appear to be, awarded on a fair and impartial basis. If City officers contract with the City, directly or indirectly, it creates a potential for, and the appearance of, favoritism or preferential treatment by the City and improper awarding of public contracts. It is also important that City officers and employees disclose their personal financial interests in order to protect public confidence in governmental processes. In the stipulation, Fung acknowledged responsibility for entering into a subcontract with the City while serving as a City Commissioner and for failing to disclose seven sources of income of $10,000 or more. As detailed in the stipulation, Fung who was serving as a Planning Commissioner entered into a subcontract with the Airport Commission through his architectural design firm, ED2, to work on a Sewer Treatment Plant Project. Because Fung was a City officer, he was prohibited from entering or attempting to enter into any contract or subcontract with the City. By entering into the subcontract with the City, Fung violated City ethics laws.
Fung also failed to disclose certain income and the source of each income received between 2019 and 2022 as required under the law.
The Commission fined Fung $20,000 for the City contract violation and $4,200 for failure to disclose seven sources of income of $10,000 or more.
As authorized by the City Charter, the resolution of violations through a public stipulated agreement enables Respondents and the Ethics Commission to resolve enforcement matters without the need of a lengthier process involving a public hearing. The Commission is authorized to assess a monetary penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation or up to three times the amount that was improperly given or received or that was not properly disclosed.
The Commission’s case resolutions, including copies of approved settlement agreements, are available on the Commission’s website.
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The San Francisco Ethics Commission was created directly by the City’s voters with the passage of Proposition K in November 1993 and is responsible for the independent and impartial administration and enforcement of laws related to campaign finance, public financing of candidates, governmental ethics, conflicts of interests, and registration and reporting by lobbyists, campaign consultants, permit consultants, and major developers.
Our mission is to practice and promote the highest standards of integrity in government. We achieve that by delivering impactful programs that promote fair, transparent, and accountable governmental decision making for the benefit of all San Franciscans. Public service is a public trust, and our aim is to ensure that San Franciscans can have confidence that the operations of the City and County and the decisions made by its officials and employees are fair, just, and made without any regard to private or personal gain.