March 18, 2020 •

San Francisco Ethics Commission Offices Will Be Closed During Public Health Order

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

Mayor London N. Breed announced the Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco has issued a Public Health Order. This order requires residents to remain in place, with the only exception being for essential needs. This measure […]

Mayor London N. Breed announced the Health Officer of the City and County of San Francisco has issued a Public Health Order.

This order requires residents to remain in place, with the only exception being for essential needs.

This measure is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Public Health Order is effective as of midnight on Tuesday, March 17 until April 7, unless amended or extended.

The physical offices of the ethics commission will be closed for the duration of the Public Health Order until April 7, unless otherwise noticed.

The regular monthly meeting scheduled for Friday, March 20, has been canceled.

However, the ethics commission remains open for business through its telework policy and technology.

Staff will continue to assist with filing guidance, online disclosure tools and resources, advice, and compliance assistance, among its other duties.

Filing deadlines established by law applying during this period remain in effect and have not been extended.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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February 17, 2020 •

Judge Set to Confirm Most of San Francisco Political Ad Disclosure Rules

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will uphold the bulk of a San Francisco ordinance requiring political ads to disclose top donors and secondary funding sources. Proposition F requires print, audio, and video political ads disclose the top three donors who […]

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will uphold the bulk of a San Francisco ordinance requiring political ads to disclose top donors and secondary funding sources.

Proposition F requires print, audio, and video political ads disclose the top three donors who contributed at least $5,000. If one of those donors is a PAC, the committee’s top two donors must also be disclosed.

The judge rejected claims the ad disclosure law hinders political speech.

Yes on Prop B argued the law unconstitutionally burdens its right to free speech and cited an en banc Ninth Circuit panel decision in American Beverage Association v. San Francisco blocking the city from requiring health warnings taking up 20% of billboard ads for sodas and sweetened drinks.

Judge Breyer found the court decision was not really on point because Proposition F was passed by a voter referendum and regulates political speech as opposed to commercial speech.

The judge also rejected an argument donor information is easily accessible on the San Francisco Ethics Commission website stating putting the onus on voters to look up the information would not match the law’s intent.

While refusing to block most of the law, Judge Breyer agreed requiring lengthy disclaimers for small print and short length political ads is likely unconstitutional and indicated he will issue a partial injunction blocking those types of restrictions.

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February 12, 2020 •

San Francisco Judge to Hear Challenge to New Campaign Finance Disclosure Rules

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

A federal judge in San Francisco will hear arguments on February 14 on a free speech challenge to the new donor disclosure rules enacted by city voters in November. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will consider the Yes on B […]

A federal judge in San Francisco will hear arguments on February 14 on a free speech challenge to the new donor disclosure rules enacted by city voters in November.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will consider the Yes on B campaign committee’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the rules approved by voters as part of Proposition F.

The federal lawsuit was filed on January 28 claiming the rules violate the First Amendment free speech rights because the required disclosures occupy so much space in audio, video, and newspaper advertisements effectively drowning out the political message.

Proposition F, also known as the Sunlight on Dark Money Initiative, requires ads list the contribution amounts as well as the names of the top three donors of $5,000 or more, plus the names and amounts of the top two donors of more than $5,000 to a secondary committee contributing to a primary committee.

The lawsuit also disputes the lowering of the donation threshold to $5,000 from the previous threshold of $10,000 and a requirement donation disclosures be made at the beginning rather than the end of an audio or video message or telephone call.

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November 7, 2019 •

San Francisco Voters Pass the Sunlight on Dark Money Measure

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

A San Francisco ballot measure intended to increase the restrictions on political contributions for campaign ads won easily on Tuesday. Proposition F, the Sunlight on Dark Money measure, passed by 76% of the votes. The proposition only needed a simple […]

A San Francisco ballot measure intended to increase the restrictions on political contributions for campaign ads won easily on Tuesday.

Proposition F, the Sunlight on Dark Money measure, passed by 76% of the votes.

The proposition only needed a simple majority to pass.

The measure’s passage means greater disclosure of who is behind campaign advertisements paid for by PACs.

The top three largest donors of the committee paying for the advertisement must now disclose the name and amount contributed to the committee.

Proposition F will take effect 10 days after the election results are certified.

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July 18, 2019 •

San Francisco Pay-To-Play Ballot Measure

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

Voters will have a chance in November to increase the restrictions on political contributions in the latest campaign finance proposal aimed at pay-to-play. The Sunlight on Dark Money ballot initiative requires greater disclosure of who is behind campaign advertisements paid […]

Voters will have a chance in November to increase the restrictions on political contributions in the latest campaign finance proposal aimed at pay-to-play.

The Sunlight on Dark Money ballot initiative requires greater disclosure of who is behind campaign advertisements paid for by PACs.

The measure requires the top three largest donors of the committee paying for the advertisement to disclose the name and amount contributed to the committee.

If any of the three belong to another committee, they must disclose the top two donors of that committee as well.

The measure would also prohibit top executives in development companies from contributing to candidates or current office holders of the Board of Supervisors, mayor, and city attorney.

The prohibition will be in effect while a project they have financial interest in is pending approval, or for 12 months after the city makes a final decision on the project.

The measure will also close a loophole allowing LLCs and LLPs to contribute to candidates despite an existing ban on those donations from corporations.

The measure would take effect 10 days after the election results are certified.

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June 4, 2019 •

San Francisco Ethics Commission Adopts Code Changes

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

The San Francisco Ethics Commission voted to adopt amendments to the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code. The changes include electronic filing, filing of contribution disclosures no later than 14 days following the contribution, and updating filing forms. The changes provide […]

The San Francisco Ethics Commission voted to adopt amendments to the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code.

The changes include electronic filing, filing of contribution disclosures no later than 14 days following the contribution, and updating filing forms.

The changes provide clarity regarding code sections created by the Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance and update the regulations to match other recent changes to the code.

Additionally, changes provide clarity about various provisions of the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance.

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May 20, 2019 •

San Francisco Ethics Commission Propose Code Changes

San Francisco, California - Noahnmf

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will hold its next regular meeting on May 29. The commission will consider and possibly act on a set of proposed regulation changes to the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code. These changes include electronic filing, […]

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will hold its next regular meeting on May 29.

The commission will consider and possibly act on a set of proposed regulation changes to the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code.

These changes include electronic filing, filing of contribution disclosures no later than 14 days following the contribution, and updating filing forms.

The proposed changes are intended to provide clarity regarding code sections created by the Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance and update the regulations to match other recent changes to the code.

Changes additionally provide clarity about various provisions of the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance.

Opportunity for public comment will be provided at the meeting.

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June 25, 2018 •

San Francisco Amends Campaign Finance and Conflict of Interest Provisions

Legislation amending San Francisco’s Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code takes effect next week. Ordinance No. 129-18 is effective June 30, though most of its provisions are not operative until January 1, 2019. The ordinance extends the restriction period for contractor […]

Legislation amending San Francisco’s Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code takes effect next week. Ordinance No. 129-18 is effective June 30, though most of its provisions are not operative until January 1, 2019.

The ordinance extends the restriction period for contractor contributions from six to 12 months following contract approval. It also requires interested parties making a behested payment or payments of $10,000 or more to file a disclosure within 30 days.

Other changes include, but are not limited to, additional disclosure requirements for contributions from business entities and for bundled campaign contributions, as well as an additional pre-election statement for committees.

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May 17, 2018 •

San Francisco Campaign Finance Reform Legislation Passes First Reading

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors unanimously passed, on first reading, campaign finance reform legislation aimed at providing more transparency in political contributions. Among other provisions, the legislation will include pay-to-play provisions, local behested payment reporting requirements for both […]

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors unanimously passed, on first reading, campaign finance reform legislation aimed at providing more transparency in political contributions.

Among other provisions, the legislation will include pay-to-play provisions, local behested payment reporting requirements for both donors and City officers, and additional disclosure requirements for contributions made by business entities.

The legislation must pass a second reading at the Board of Supervisors and be signed by the mayor prior to becoming law.

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March 1, 2018 •

San Francisco Board Member Moves to Hold a Joint Meeting

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission may hold a joint meeting and possibly vote on a campaign finance reform measure on April 3. The Ethics Commission has spent two years drafting reforms regulating areas including behested […]

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors and Ethics Commission may hold a joint meeting and possibly vote on a campaign finance reform measure on April 3.

The Ethics Commission has spent two years drafting reforms regulating areas including behested payments, bundling contributions, independent expenditure committees, and conflicts of interest related to developers and city contractors.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced a motion on February 27 to hold the joint meeting, and the full board is expected to vote on that motion as early as March 6.

Both the commission and the board need to approve the same version of the reform legislation for it to become law.

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January 24, 2018 •

San Francisco, California Has New Mayor

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors voted 6-3 on January 23 to appoint District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell as acting mayor and to remove Board President London Breed. Breed became acting mayor in December when Mayor Ed Lee suddenly died of […]

The San Francisco, California Board of Supervisors voted 6-3 on January 23 to appoint District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell as acting mayor and to remove Board President London Breed.

Breed became acting mayor in December when Mayor Ed Lee suddenly died of a heart attack.

By accepting the appointment, Farrell is giving up his District 2 seat and will have a chance to appoint his successor.

Under the city charter, the board may appoint a successor to serve until the June 5 election.

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December 12, 2017 •

San Francisco, California Mayor Ed Lee Dies Suddenly

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died in the early hours of December 12 after suffering an apparent heart attack. The President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, London Breed, is now the acting mayor of San Francisco. The Board […]

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died in the early hours of December 12 after suffering an apparent heart attack.

The President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, London Breed, is now the acting mayor of San Francisco.

The Board of Supervisors may now vote to make Breed the temporary mayor or choose another candidate.

If a majority of the remaining 10 supervisors cannot agree on a candidate, Breed would remain in the office until the June 2018 election.

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November 29, 2017 •

San Francisco Ethics Commission Approves Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance

At its November 27 meeting, the San Francisco Ethics Commission gave final approval to recommend and transmit to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors its Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance. The ordinance would create or expand certain pay-to-play prohibitions on political […]

At its November 27 meeting, the San Francisco Ethics Commission gave final approval to recommend and transmit to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors its Anti-Corruption and Accountability Ordinance.

The ordinance would create or expand certain pay-to-play prohibitions on political contributions, institute new disclosure requirements, create local rules for reporting behested payments, and create new rules regarding conflicts of interest.

The Commission will transmit its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, where at least eight votes will be required to adopt the proposal.

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October 12, 2017 •

San Francisco Looks to Limit Behested Payments

The San Francisco Ethics Commission has proposed to place strict limits on behested payments. A behested payment is when a public official asks a person or group to donate to a civic or charitable cause instead of directly to the […]

The San Francisco Ethics Commission has proposed to place strict limits on behested payments.

A behested payment is when a public official asks a person or group to donate to a civic or charitable cause instead of directly to the public official, and the proposal would ban these requests. The penalty for officials could be $5,000 for each violation, but there would be no penalty for the donor.

If this proposal becomes an ordinance, the city’s Board of Supervisors would have to approve it. The commission could also put the changes on a ballot, which would be decided by voters in June of 2018.

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