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What is a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest happens when our personal interests (for example, our financial interests or the financial interests of immediate family) clash with our duties as public officers and employees.
Government decisions should always work in the best interests of the public. A public official must not participate in a governmental decision that could impact the personal finances of the official or the official’s immediate family.
Why do they matter?
Because conflicts of interest could compromise official actions and even lead to corruption, they are regulated. Next, we will discuss a summary of the laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest.
Summary of Conflict of Interest Rules
Financial Conflicts of Interest Rules:
- Do not make, participate, or try to influence a government decision in which you have a financial interest.
(Political Reform Act of 1974)
- Do not participate in the making of a contract when you have a financial interest in that contract.
(CA Government Code Section 1090)
- Do not make, participate, or try to influence a government decision when that decision affects a person or entity that is discussing or negotiating a future job with you.
(SF Campaign and Gov. Code Sec. 3.206)
Other Conflict of Interest Rules:
- After leaving City employment or City service, do not communicate with your former department on behalf of someone else for one year.
- Do not go to work for a contractor if, during the past 12 months, you personally and substantially participated in the making of that contract.
- Do not switch sides in a proceeding where the City is a party if you have worked personally and substantially on the City side.
What should I do if I have a conflict of interest?
- If you are a City officer or employee (including consultants) but are not a board member or commissioner, you should disclose the conflict of interest on the public record and abstain from discussing and participating in the decision in any way.
- If you are a board member or commissioner, in addition to abstaining at any public meeting where your board or commission discusses the item with which you have a conflict of interest, you must:
- Publicly identify the circumstances requiring recusal.
- Leave the room until the matter is concluded.
- File a Notification of Recusal with the Ethics Commission within 15 days (even if you were not present at the meeting where the recusal would have been required).
Recusals are public information. You can view submitted recusals on this website.