December 4, 2023
To: Members of the Ethics Commission
From: Patrick Ford, Director of Enforcement; Zach D’Amico, Senior Investigator
Subject: Agenda Item 3 – Discussion and Possible Action regarding Hearing on the Merits In the Matter of Paul Allen Taylor, Case No. 20-243 (1920-031)
This memorandum provides information regarding the Hearing on the Merits In the Matters of Paul Allen Taylor, Case No. 20-243 (1920-031).
On December 26, 2022, the Executive Director issued a Probable Cause Determination against Paul Allen Taylor (“Respondent”) on eight counts. The Executive Director found probable cause to believe that Respondent coordinated a $10,000 PAC expenditure as an agent of Ellen Lee Zhou for Mayor 2019 (“the Committee”). By coordinating that expenditure, Respondent caused the PAC to make a contribution far in excess of the $500 limit; caused the Committee to accept a contribution far in excess of the $500 limit; and caused both parties to violate City law related to contribution disclosures. The Executive Director also found probable cause to believe that Respondent failed to register as a campaign consultant. Finally, the Executive Director found probable cause to believe that Respondent inappropriately withheld information sought by the Ethics Commission in the course of a duly authorized investigation.
On December 31, 2022, the Commission ratified the Executive Director’s Probable Cause Determination against Respondent on eight counts.
On May 5, 2023, the Commission appointed Commissioner Theis Finlev to hear preliminary matters. On August 2, 2023, Commissioner Finlev delivered an order ruling on preliminary matters to all parties. On October 6, 2023, the Acting Executive Director formally noticed a hearing for December 8, 2023. On November 8, 2023, the Enforcement Division submitted a hearing brief and accompanying materials to all Commissioners. Respondent did not submit a Response Brief or any list of evidence or witnesses.
This is being held under the rules set forth in the Charter of the City and County of San Francisco, the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, the Ethics Commission Enforcement Regulations, and the California Administrative Procedure Act. These rules are summarized in the Commission’s Enforcement Hearing Guidebook, found here. According to these rules, the Commission may conduct a hearing as an entire body. Further, the Commission may then vote on whether or not to find any violations. If it finds any violations, the Commission may vote to issue orders and penalties against the Respondent.
The Commission may continue the hearing due to time constraints on December 8. If necessary, staff recommend a full Commission vote to continue the hearing to the next regular Commission meeting.