City officers, employees, and certain consultants holding designated positions must disclose their financial interests as specified by their position’s disclosure category on a form called Statement of Economic Interests – Form 700. These public filings help officials and employees monitor their financial interests, identify when those interests might conflict with their government actions, and take steps to avoid conflicts of interests.
The Political Reform Act of 1974 (Act) governs the disclosure of political campaign contributions, spending by candidates and ballot measure committees. It also sets ethics rules for state and local government officials that impose strict limits on decisions or votes that affect the official’s financial interests (Gov. Code, § 87100). The nonpartisan Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is the agency primarily responsible for the fair application, interpretation, and enforcement of the Political Reform Act.
The Act prohibits a public official from using their official position to influence a government decision in which they have a financial interest. State and local agencies must adopt a conflict of interest code that identifies all officials, employees and consultants within the agency who make governmental decisions based on the positions they hold.
The Form 700 provides necessary information to the public about an official’s personal financial interests to ensure that officials are making decisions in the best interest of the public and not enhancing their own personal finances. It serves as a reminder to the public official of potential conflicts of interest so the official can abstain from making or participating in governmental decisions that are deemed conflicts of interest.
Conflict of Interest Code
To help support objective governmental decision making, the City’s Conflict of Interest Code (“code”) designates all officials, employees of, and consultants to, the agency who make or participate in making governmental decisions that could cause conflicts of interest. These individuals are required by the code to file statements of economic interests and to disqualify themselves when conflicts of interest occur. The disclosure required under a conflict of interest code for a particular designated official, employee or consultant should include only the kinds of personal economic interests they could significantly affect through the exercise of their official duties. For example, an employee whose duties are limited to reviewing contracts for supplies, equipment, materials, or services provided to the agency should be required to report only those interests they hold that are likely to be affected by the agency’s contracts for supplies, equipment, materials, or services.
Each designated position is assigned a Disclosure Category based on the nature and scope of their duties. Disclosure categories describe the types of financial interests an individual must disclose. Positions with a broader scope of duties typically require more disclosure than those with less authority.
Disclosure categories are listed in the conflict of interest code adjacent to each designated position. Disclosure Category 1, as specified in code section 3.1-107, applies to each department/agency of the City and County of San Francisco. Additional disclosure categories present in a department’s code section are applicable to that department unless otherwise specified.
Amendments to the Conflict of Interest Code
It is essential and legally required that an agency ‘s conflict of interest code reflects the current structure of the agency and properly identifies all officials, employees and consultants who should be filing a Form 700. To ensure the code remains current and accurate, each agency in the State of California is required to review its conflict of interest code at least every other year.
To ensure San Francisco’s Conflict of Interest Code remains current and accurate, the code is reviewed biennially (every even year). Amending the code requires a legislative process. The review period is initiated by the Board of Supervisors through dissemination of a memorandum to City department heads. Departments who wish to make changes to their section of the code, including adding and/or removing designated positions, will do so during the biennial review period.
Filing Requirements, Deadlines and Exceptions
- All persons occupying positions designated in the City ‘s conflict of interest code to file statements of economic interest (Form 700).
- Persons occupying designated positions in an acting or interim basis must file Form 700 statements while they are performing the duties of that position.
- Certain consultants who contract with departments may also be designated in the code.
How and Where to File
Effective January 1, 2022, all persons occupying positions designated in the City ‘s conflict of interest code (“code”) file their assuming office, annual, and leaving office Form 700 statements in electronic format using the Ethics Commission’s NetFile e-filing system. Once submitted, designated filing officers can access to filed statements through the e-filing platform.
The Ethics Commission is the filing officer for City Officers. City officers include Elected Officials, Department Heads, and Commission and Board Members designated in code section 3.1-103 (a) and (b), and positions under code section 3.1-510.
The Department Head or the Executive Director of the City department/agency is the filing officer for Designated Filers. Designated filers are departmental employees and consultants who occupy positions designated in their departments’ section of the code. Generally, filing officer responsibilities are delegated to departmental staff (i.e., designated filing officer).
When Are Form 700 Statements Filed
When has a person Assumed Office?
- When they’re newly employed or appointed in a position designated by the conflict of interest code and have begun performing the duties of the position (i.e., start date or date sworn in).
- When their position has been added to a recently amended conflict of interest code. In this case, the person has assumed office on the effective date of the amended code.
|No later than thirty (30) days after assuming the office or position.
|Twelve (12) months prior to the date the person assumed the office or position through their start date (i.e., 12-month look back).
|Based on requirements of the filer’s disclosure category:
|Assuming Office Filing Exceptions
|No later than April 1st each year.
|January 1st – December 31st of the previous calendar year.*
|Based on the filer’s disclosure category:
|Annual Filing Exceptions
When has a person Left Office?
- The date they stop performing the duties of their designated position (e.g., last day of employment).
- When their position has been removed from a recently amended conflict of interest code. In this case, the person’s leaving office date is the effective date of the amended code.
|No later than thirty (30) days after leaving the office or position.
|Generally, the period covered is January 1 through the date the person left the office or position.*
|Based on the requirements of the filer’s disclosure category:
|Leaving Office Filing Exceptions
Failure to File by Deadline
Per San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, Section 3.1-102.5, any officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco who fails to file any statement required by Sections 3.1-101 and 3.1-102 of this Chapter within 30 days after receiving notice from the Ethics Commission of a failure to file may be subject to disciplinary action by their appointing authority, including removal from office or termination of employment.
California Government Code Section 91013 imposes a fee of $10 per day, up to the cumulative amount stated in the late Form 700 or one hundred dollars ($100), whichever is greater. Persons who fail to timely file their Form 700 may also be referred to the Ethics Commission’s Enforcement Division, which may impose a penalty of up to $5,000 per violation or three (3) times the cumulative amount not properly reported.
Additionally, members of Boards and Commissions* who have failed to file their required Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests or (if applicable) Ethics & Sunshine Training Declaration by the applicable filing deadline are disqualified from all participation in and voting on matters listed on the meeting agenda of their board or commission until they have met their filing requirements. (SF Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section 3.1‐102.5(c).)
*Including members of committees or other bodies that hold meetings and are comprised of uncompensated Form 700 filers.
The Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission may take steps to initiate an enforcement action against a filer who is more than 30 days late in filing Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700). Under the San Francisco Charter, failure to file a Form 700 can subject the filer to a fine of up to $5,000 per violation or three (3) times the cumulative amount not properly reported. In addition, willful failure to file may be a misdemeanor and non-filers may also be subject to disciplinary action.
The Ethics Commission may also conduct random audits of filings.
Search Filed Statements
Form 700 filings are made available to the public in the Form 700 Online Database subject to limited redactions.