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Courtesy Notice - January 14, 2013 - Regarding the January 31, 2013 Semi-Annual Filing Deadline, Terminating Committees, Preparing Campaign Statements, Changes to State Laws and Regulations, Interested Persons Meeting

Date: January 14, 2013

To:

  • Recipient committees (Including Candidates and Officeholders)
  • Candidates for the November 5, 2013 election who do not have a committee
  • Major donor and independent expenditure committees

From: John St. Croix, Executive Director

Re:

  1. Courtesy notice regarding the January 31, 2013 semi-annual filing deadline;
  2. Information on terminating committees;
  3. Guidance on preparing campaign statements; and
  4. Recent changes to state campaign finance laws and regulations
  5. Interested persons meeting to discuss recommendations of Budget Analyst regarding
    Ethics Commission programs

Please review this memorandum carefully. It contains important information about your campaign disclosure filing obligations. If you have questions on any of the items discussed below, please call our office at 415-252-3100 during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1. Courtesy notice regarding the January 31, 2013 filing deadline

This section provides important information about the upcoming January 31, 2013 filing deadline. Please review the information below to determine your filing obligation.

A. Who needs to file?

The following filers must file a semi-annual statement with the Ethics Commission:

  1. Non-candidate recipient committees must file one of the following forms:
    • FPPC Form 425 Semi-Annual Statement of No Activity,
    • FPPC Form 450 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement-Short Form, or
    • FPPC Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement.
    • Committees that made independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a single candidate or measure must also file a Form 465 Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.
  2. Candidate/Officeholder committees must file:1
    • FPPC Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement.
  3. Candidates for the November 2013 election who filed a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement by 12/31/12, DID NOT have a committee in the year 2012 and DID NOT raise or spend more than $1,000 in 2012 must file a Form 470 Officeholder and Candidate Campaign Statement-Short Form for the 2012 calendar year.
  4. Major donor and independent expenditure committees must file:
    • FPPC Form 461 Major Donor and Independent Expenditure Committee Campaign Statement if there was any activity during the reporting period covering through 12/31/2012. However, if you already filed a Pre-Election statement, you must file a Semi Annual statement covering through 12/31/2012 even if you did NOT have any activity after your Pre-Election filing.
    • Committees that made independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a single candidate or measure must also file a Form 465 Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.

B. What is the period covered by the Statement?

The statement covers the period between: either (a) the day after the closing date of the previous statement filed through December 31, 2012; or (b) if no statement was filed in 2012, January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.2

C. What records do you need to keep?

State law requires committees to keep all campaign records for a period of four years from the date the related campaign statement was filed. The candidate and treasurer are responsible for maintaining the records and for the accuracy of the records. In general, you must keep a record of all receipts and expenditures. For more detail on the types of records that you must maintain, please refer to the recordkeeping section of the relevant FPPC Campaign Disclosure Manual. FPPC Manuals may be obtained from the Commission's office or from the FPPC's website at www.fppc.ca.gov.

D. What form(s) do you need to file?

Depending on the filer, a Form 460 (Recipient Committee Campaign Statement), Form 450 (Recipient Committee Campaign Statement—Short Form), Form 425 (Semi-Annual Statement of No Activity), Form 470 (Officeholder and Candidate Campaign Statement – Short Form) or Form 461 (Major Donor and Independent Expenditure Committee Campaign Statement) must be filed. In addition to the forms listed above, committees that made independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support a single candidate or measure must also file a Form 465 Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report.

The Commission requires an original and one copy of each statement signed and dated by the treasurer and candidate. You may obtain forms at the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) web site: http://www.fppc.ca.gov.

E. Do you need to file electronically in addition to your paper filing?

In addition to paper reports, all major donor committees must also file FPPC forms 461 and 497 electronically and all recipient general purpose committees and independent expenditures committees that receive $5,000 or more in contributions or make $5,000 or more in independent expenditures in a calendar year must also file the following FPPC forms electronically: 460, 461, 465, 496 and 497. A committee that files electronic campaign statements must continue to file electronically until it terminates. There are two ways to comply with this requirement:

  1. Internet Filing. Committees may use the Commission's free San Francisco Electronic Disclosure System (SFEDS). A registration form and a user guide are available on the Commission's web site at www.sfethics.org.
  2. Political Reporting Services. Campaigns may wish to purchase political software or reporting services. You may obtain a list of qualified third-party software vendors at http://www.ss.ca.gov/prd/approved_vendors.htm. (Please note that these are listed for informational purposes and that the Commission does not endorse these services.)

F. What is the fee for the late filing of paper and/or electronic reports?

Filing deadlines will be strictly enforced. Late filings are subject to a $10-per-day late fee for paper reports and, if applicable, an additional $25-per-day late fee for electronic reports.

2. Information on terminating committees

If no funds are left in the campaign bank account and you will not raise additional funds, you should close the account and campaign committee by filing Form 460 (covering through 12/31/2012) indicating a zero-ending cash balance and Form 410 (mark the termination box). Before terminating, you must have filed all required campaign statements, disclosing all reportable transactions, including the disposition of leftover funds and elimination of all debts.

If you do not terminate your committee, you must continue to file Form 460. Please call Commission staff at 415-252-3100 for information on your future filing obligations (if you do not terminate) and what you can do with the money remaining in your campaign bank account.

3. Guidance on preparing campaign statements

If you need guidance in preparing your campaign statements, you may schedule an appointment to meet with staff by calling 415-252-3100. Due to the high volume of filings received around the filing deadline, staff encourages you to address your filing concerns several days before the January 31 filing deadline.

4. Recent changes to state campaign finance laws and regulations

The FPPC recently adopted new rules and regulations governing campaign committees. The changes include:

  • The Forms 496 and 497 ("24-hour reports") are now due during the 90-day period before an election (previously these forms were due during the 16 days immediately preceding an election).
  • The requirement to identify the name of the candidate or committee sending a mass mailing now also applies to over 200 substantially similar messages distributed to the public through electronic mail by a candidate or committee within a calendar month.
  • Disclaimer requirements for various types of communications have changed and are described in a handout prepared by the FPPC and is posted on the FPPC's website.
  • A committee that makes independent expenditures of $1,000 or more to support or oppose a candidate or measure must file Form 462 Verification of Independent Expenditures with the FPPC.
  • Committees must now pay an annual registration fee of $50 to the Secretary of State's office.

For more information about these and other changes, please visit the FPPC's website at www.fppc.ca.gov or call the FPPC at 866-ASK-FPPC.

5. Interested persons meeting to discuss recommendations of Budget Analyst regarding Ethics Commission programs

On June 5, 2012, the Budget and Legislative Analyst issued a report to Supervisor Campos comparing programs of the San Francisco Ethics Commission with those of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. The Budget Analyst found that neither San Francisco nor Los Angeles is uniformly more or less stringent than the other; but added that "comparing the cities' policies does provide an opportunity for the City and County of San Francisco to consider alternate policies and approaches to influencing campaign financing, enforcing laws, educating and informing the public, and managing lobbying practices." For this reason, staff of the Ethics Commission conducted two interested persons meetings in order to obtain feedback on the policy options listed by the Budget Analyst, as set forth below.

Staff will conduct its next interested persons meeting on February 27, 2013 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 400 at City Hall.

You may view the discussion topics and the Budget Analyst's report at: http://www.sfethics.org/ethics/2012/11/interested-persons-meeting-to-discuss-recommendations-of-budget-analyst-regarding-ethics-commission-.html

Staff welcomes your suggestions and comments at the Interested Persons meeting about any or all of the discussion topics. If you are unable to attend, please submit your comments to the Ethics Commission at 25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 220, San Francisco, CA 94102, or by email to ethics.commission@sfgov.org.

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1 When a candidate or officeholder controls more than one committee for offices within the same jurisdiction, all committees of that candidate or officeholder must file statements each time any committee statement is due.  When an elected officeholder in one jurisdiction runs for an office in another jurisdiction, the officeholder and all committees that he or she controls must file statements in both jurisdictions (see Cal. Code Regulations §18405).

2 Candidates without committees file Form 470.  The period covered by a Form 470 is the calendar year (i.e., 1/1/12-12/31/12).