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October 13, 2023 Meeting Agenda Item 06 – Update, discussion, and possible action regarding the March 2024 Ethics Commission Ballot Measure focused on gifts, training, and other City ethics laws.


Summary and Action Requested

This memo provides the Commission with an update on the status of the ballot measure that the Commission approved for the March 5, 2024 ballot during its August meeting. In addition to an update regarding the development of additional regulations, this memorandum also presents a draft ballot argument for the Commission to consider and recommends that the Commission vote to authorize the Chair to submit a ballot argument and potential rebuttal argument to the Department of Elections on behalf of the Commission.

Update Regarding the Development of Additional Regulations

As described during the September meeting, Staff has been moving forward with the development of potential regulations regarding Section 3.218 of the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, as potentially amended by the March 2024 Ethics Commission Ballot Measure.

Section 3.218 of the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code currently sets forth rules regarding departmental Statements of Incompatible Activities (SIAs). The Ethics Commission’s 2024 ballot measure would amend Section 3.218 to eliminate departmental SIAs and move the rules from those SIAs into the amended Section 3.218. An excerpt from the Commission’s ballot measure regarding Section 3.218 has been provided as Attachment 1.

On September 29, Staff announced two interested persons meetings to be held on October 17 and October 19 to discuss potential regulations regarding Section 3.218, should it be approved by voters. Details regarding this meeting are provided through the announcement in Attachment 2. The purpose of these meetings is to create additional opportunities for stakeholders and members of the public to share their thoughts and priorities with the Commission regarding regulations for the potential implementation of this section.

As with the Section 3.205 and Section 3.216 regulation amendments already approved by the Commission in August, any subsequent regulations regarding the ballot measure would only become operative if, and when, the ballot measure becomes operative. If approved by voters in March, the ballot measure would become operative roughly six months after the results of the election are certified.

Following the upcoming interested persons meetings, draft regulations will be developed and presented to the Commission for additional discussion. A meet-and-confer process with City bargaining units may need to be completed prior to the Commission voting on any such regulations.

Approval and Submission of Ballot Arguments and Rebuttals

The official Voter Information Pamphlets produced by the Department of Elections generally contain “ballot arguments” regarding each measure on the ballot. Additionally, shorter “rebuttal arguments” can be submitted in response to the ballot arguments of another party. In the past, the Ethics Commission has proved the proponent arguments for the ballot measures it has placed on the ballot. The deadline for submitting ballot arguments for the March 5, 2024 election is December 14 and the deadline for submitting a potential rebuttal argument will be December 18.

A draft ballot argument has been provided for discussion in Attachment 3. The draft in Attachment 3 also includes information from the Department of Elections regarding the word limit and word count rules. The Commission’s ballot argument must be limited to factual information and not be used to express a political message for or against the ballot measure. The draft in Attachment 3 has been reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office, which has confirmed that the langauge used is not prohibited by the City’s rules against political activity. Note that the draft currently refers to the measure as “Proposition TBD” as the Department of Election will not designate the official letter for the ballot measure until December 11.

The Department of Elections has said it will accept ballot arguments from the Chair on behalf of the Commission without requiring any additional documentation or authorization. However, after consulting with the City Attorney’s Office, Staff is recommending that for good measure, the Commission vote to explicitly authorize the Chair to submit a ballot argument and potential rebuttal on behalf of the Commission.

Recommended Next Steps

The Commission should discuss the attached draft ballot argument and communicate any suggested revisions or thoughts for the Chair to consider regarding either the ballot argument or potential rebuttal. Staff then recommends the Commission vote to formally authorize the Chair to submit a ballot argument and potentially a rebuttal argument to the Department of Elections on behalf of the Commission.


Attachment 1: Section 3.218 – Excerpt from Ethics Commission 2024 Ballot Measure

Attachment 2: IP Meeting Notice – 3.218 Regulations 2023

Attachment 3: Draft Ethics Ballot Measure Argument – 10.6.23

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