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Executive Director's Report - February 25, 2013

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
TO THE SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION
For the Meeting of February 25, 2013  

1. Budget Update

At the last meeting, the Commission directed the staff to submit a budget proposal equal to last year’s funding level.  Staff submitted a budget proposal of $2,597,220, a figure which would fully fund all existing positions of the department.  This figure includes salaries, benefits and office expenses.  In addition, another $1,903,559.49 is requested for the annual funding required for the Election Campaign Fund.  Thus, the total budget request for Fiscal Year 2013-14 is $4,530,779.49.

2. Investigation and enforcement program.

As of February 15, 2013, there are 22 pending formal complaints alleging violations within the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction.  At the Commission’s regular meeting of January 28, 2013, three settlement agreements were approved – these agreements are available on the Commission’s website.

Category # of Complaints
Campaign Finance 12
Conflict of Interest 1
Governmental Ethics 0
Lobbyist Ordinance 0
Campaign Consultant Ordinance 2
Sunshine Ordinance 7
TOTAL 22

3. Campaign finance disclosure program.

a. Filing deadline.  The most recent filing deadline was on January 31, 2013 for the Second Semi-Annual statement, which covers the reporting period ending December 31, 2012.  Staff identified 19 filers who will be sent a Non-Specific Written Notice.  Staff continues to answer questions from and conduct outreach to candidates and other committee representatives about campaign finance filing obligations.  The next filing deadline that applies to all filers is July 31, 2013 for the First Semi-Annual Statement, which covers the reporting period ending June 30, 2013.  In the interim, staff continues to receive and process campaign statements for other filing deadlines.

b. Collection of late filing fees and contribution forfeitures.  In the FY12-13, as of January 31, the Commission collected a total of $31,118 in campaign finance late fees and forfeitures.  Outstanding late fees and forfeitures total $18,009, of which waiver requests are pending for $2,185; and $6,659 is pending at the Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR). 

c. Status of accounts to San Francisco Bureau of Delinquent Revenues (BDR).  The following chart provides details on active accounts referred to BDR:

# Committee/
Filer
ID # Treasurer or Responsible Officer Date referral effective Original amount referred Last month’s balance Current balance (Changes are in bold)
1 Johnny K. Wang
JKW Political Consulting
100716 Johnny K. Wang 4/19/11 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 
2 Coalition to Elect  Chris Jackson to Community College Board 1302351 Chris Jackson 6/17/11 2,658.90 $2,658.90 2,658.90
            TOTAL $6,659

4. Revenues report. 

For FY 12-13, the Commission was budgeted to generate $100,000 in revenues.  As of February 19, 2013, the Commission received $ 85,362 as summarized below.  The figure represents collection of approximately 85 percent of expected revenues for FY 12-13. 

Revenues received as of February 19, 2013:

Source Budgeted Amount FY 12-13 Receipts
Lobbyist Fees $27,000 $42,625
Other Ethics General $1,000 $96
Campaign Finance Fines $50,000 $31,118
Campaign Consultant Fees $18,000 $5,450
Lobbyist Fines $1,000 $550
Statements of Economic Interests Fines $1,000 $2540
Other Ethics Fines $1,000 $1,300
Campaign Consultant Fines $1,000 $150
Unallocated $0 $1,533
Total                        $100,000 $85,362

5. Lobbyist program. 

As of February 15, 2013, 83 individual lobbyists were registered with the Commission. For
FY 12–13, as of February 15, 2013, total revenues collected were $42,625, including $42,075 in lobbyist registration fees and $550 in late fines. The filing deadline for the next lobbyist disclosure statement is March 15, 2013.

6. Campaign Consultant program. 

As of February 14, 2013, eighteen campaign consultants were registered with the Commission.   $5,450 in registration fees and $150 in fines have been collected so far during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.  The next campaign consultant quarterly report deadline is Friday, March 15, 2013.  Staff will send reminders to all active campaign consultants two weeks before the deadline.

7. Outreach and Education.

The Commission continues to offer trainings on Statements of Incompatible Activities to City departments via web trainings.  The following are web video trainings available on the Commission website:

  • Department of Building Inspection SIA Training
  • Candidates’ Training
  • Controller’s Office SIA Training
  • Department on the Environment SIA Training
  • Governmental Ethics Ordinance Training for City Employees
  • Lobbyist Ordinance Training
  • Medical Examiner’s Office SIA Training
  • Non-Candidate Recipient Committee Training
  • Public Utilities Commission SIA Training
  • SIA Template Language Training

The Commission has scheduled two trainings for filing officers regarding the annual Statement of Economic Interests filings that are due April 2, 2013.  The first training was held on February 6 and the second will be held on March 5, 2013 at 10 a.m. in Room 421 City Hall.

On February 14, 2013, a California Berkeley Investigative Journalism class visited the Ethics Commission office to learn more about using various financial disclosure statements to investigate candidates and elected officials.  Staff informed the class about the Commission’s mission to adhere to, and actively enforce, ethics laws and rules.  Staff spoke about the different types of financial disclosure statements and how members of the public can use this information to keep themselves informed. Considering this class was formed to teach students about investigating possible violations of the law, the students’ questions were directed towards how to read the information on various statements and, more so, how to understand the various connections between the different financial disclosure statements.

On January 31, at their invitation, I made a presentation to the Seattle City Council about the workings and successes of our Public Finance Program.  That same day, I participated in a public finance workshop with the Seattle Ethics Commission in order to help them form potential proposals to create a public finance program for their city.  That evening, I repeated my earlier presentation for members of the general public.  Joining me for these events were staff from the Los Angeles Ethics Commission and a representative from the Portland League of Women Voters.  Our presentations and discussion were well received at each of the three sessions mentioned above.

8. Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Report.

On June 5, 2012, the Budget Analyst issued a report comparing the laws of the City and County of San Francisco and the City of Los Angeles.  The report examined four areas of policy and enforcement: campaign financing, enforcement and education, lobbying, and transparency.  On December 4 and 10, 2012, staff held interested persons meetings to obtain feedback on the policy options listed by the Budget Analyst.  Based on concerns raised, staff will convene another interested persons meeting on February 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Room 400 City Hall.  Staff hopes to bring recommendations to the Commission at a future meeting.

9.  Status of legislative proposals endorsed by Ethics Commission.

Amendments to Section 1.112 of the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, approved by the Commission at its meeting on July 23, 2012, passed second reading by the Board of Supervisors on January 29, 2013 and were signed into law by the Mayor on February 4, 2013. They will go into effect on March 6, 2013.  The amendments include the following changes:

  • Committees that are required to file electronic campaign finance statements will no longer be required to file duplicate paper copies;
  • Committees will be required to file electronic statements if the committee receives contributions or makes expenditures that total $1,000 or more in a calendar year;
  • County Central Committee candidate controlled committees and primarily formed committees will be required to file electronically; and
  • Any committee not required to file electronic statements may voluntarily opt to file electronic statements.

The amendments to Section 1.112 were made possible as a result of the staff’s work on Assembly Bill 2452 that was approved on July 13, 2012.

Respectfully submitted,

 

_________________________
John St. Croix
Executive Director                                                                                          

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