May 14, 2020 •

California Becomes First State to Mail Ballots to All Voters

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring election officials to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter ahead of the November general election. Newsom acknowledged attempting traditional voting on a mass scale would likely still be too dangerous […]

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring election officials to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter ahead of the November general election.

Newsom acknowledged attempting traditional voting on a mass scale would likely still be too dangerous even in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person voting is still expected to occur, but the number of people voting at polling places is expected to decline.

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April 10, 2020 •

FPPC Offers Guidance on Lobbying Filing Deadlines in Wake of COVID-19

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements. However, it may be […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has issued an advisory encouraging people subject to lobbying registration and reporting requirements to continue to make the best efforts to timely file all legally required reports and statements.

However, it may be difficult for some to file statements and reports given the shelter-in-place order and other issues caused by the pandemic.

If circumstances caused by COVID-19 inhibit the filing of a lobbying report or statement, the filer should communicate these issues to the Office of the Secretary of State and document all attempts to file and the issues faced.

While quarterly lobbying reports are filed electronically, the law requires certain other statements be filed on paper with an original signature.

Restrictions imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 may make the logistics of filing documents on paper with original signatures difficult or even impossible.

To the extent this is the case, people required to file lobbying forms on paper with original signatures are encouraged to make use of digital and electronic options for filing reports to ensure timely filing.

Paper statements with original signatures will need to be filed when feasible.

If a person with lobbying filing requirements makes best efforts to comply with the Political Reform Act’s lobbying registration and reporting rules but is unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FPPC will consider this a strong mitigating factor in determining whether an enforcement action against the person is appropriate.

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April 6, 2020 •

California Legislature Extends Recess to May 4

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California State Capitol Building - Jeff Turner

The California Legislature pushed back a scheduled return to the legislative session by three weeks to give public health officials more time to deal with the coronavirus spreading through the state. The Legislature now is scheduled to reconvene on May […]

The California Legislature pushed back a scheduled return to the legislative session by three weeks to give public health officials more time to deal with the coronavirus spreading through the state.

The Legislature now is scheduled to reconvene on May 4.

Lawmakers had voted unanimously on March 16 to suspend its session until April 13.

The initial decision last month to suspend activities at the state Capitol was unprecedented in California history.

The decision came after legislators grappled for several days to balance public health concerns with the need for action to address the impact of the pandemic.

Both houses quickly passed a $1 billion relief plan on March 16 before putting a halt to all legislative business.

Whether a return in early May will be possible could depend on the state’s success or failure this month in slowing the rate of infection.

Early spring is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the Legislature, with hundreds of bills considered by policy committees before receiving final votes in either of the two houses by May 31.

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March 27, 2020 •

California FPPC Extending Form 700 Deadline

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is allowing a 60-day extension for those required to file a 2019 annual Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700). This two-month extension means forms normally due on April […]

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is allowing a 60-day extension for those required to file a 2019 annual Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700).

This two-month extension means forms normally due on April 1, 2020, will be accepted by the FPPC as timely until June 1.

The extension will apply to all officials required to file in April.

The FPPC intends to formally ratify this extension at its April 2 special meeting.

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March 26, 2020 •

FPPC Offers Guidance on Behested Payment Reporting in Wake of COVID-19

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

Individuals and businesses in California are coming to the aide of those in need through donations of money and supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In many instances, elected officials are instrumental in raising donations for these purposes, whether for […]

Individuals and businesses in California are coming to the aide of those in need through donations of money and supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In many instances, elected officials are instrumental in raising donations for these purposes, whether for charitable or government organizations.

In doing so, an elected official should be aware of and may be required to file a behested payment report.

The current statewide shelter-in-place order, closure of government offices, and various other circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic may make it difficult to file these reports on time.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) encourages elected officials to make best efforts to timely file behested payment reports.

If circumstances caused by the pandemic inhibit an official’s ability to file reports, the official should communicate these issues to their agency and document all attempts to file and the issues faced.

If an official makes best efforts to comply with the Political Reform Act’s behested payment reporting rules but is unable to do so due to the pandemic, the FPPC will consider this a strong mitigating factor in determining whether an enforcement action against the official is appropriate.

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March 25, 2020 •

Gov. Newsom Issues Executive Order for Upcoming Elections

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order extending vote-by-mail for three upcoming elections. The order comes as part of government efforts to protect public health and combat the spread of coronavirus. Under the executive order, county election officials are […]

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order extending vote-by-mail for three upcoming elections.

The order comes as part of government efforts to protect public health and combat the spread of coronavirus.

Under the executive order, county election officials are to distribute vote-by-mail to all voters eligible to participate in the special elections.

The elections include the special election for the 28th Senate District, a runoff election for the 25th Congressional District, and a special recall election held in the city of Westminster.

In addition to calling for changes to the way the upcoming special elections are conducted, the governor’s order also extends the deadlines for the ballot counting, tabulation and other responsibilities related to California’s presidential primary election for 21 days.

This will allow for the implementation of appropriate social distancing measures.

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March 18, 2020 •

FPPC Offers Guidance on Form 700 Deadline in Wake of COVID-19

Sacramento, CA Skyline - Basil D Soufi

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) encourages filers who have access to an electronic Form 700 filing system to take advantage of its use. This comes in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming Form 700 Statement […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) encourages filers who have access to an electronic Form 700 filing system to take advantage of its use.

This comes in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests filing deadline on April 1, 2020.

If electronic filing is not available, filers are strongly encouraged to submit forms by mail rather than in person.

Statements postmarked on or before the filing deadline are considered timely filed.

The FPPC’s advice telephone line is closed until further notice.

However, they continue to timely respond to requests for advice via email.

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March 18, 2020 •

California Legislature Suspends Session in Response to COVID-19

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California State Capitol Building - Jeff Turner

The California Legislature voted to suspend its 2020 session for nearly a month in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Lawmakers Monday night voted unanimously to recess from March 20 until April 13, though the date is subject to change. The […]

The California Legislature voted to suspend its 2020 session for nearly a month in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lawmakers Monday night voted unanimously to recess from March 20 until April 13, though the date is subject to change.

The Legislature passed a relief package that sends $1.1 billion in support to hospitals, facilities, local governments and schools to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

This does not affect lobbyist reporting.

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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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March 13, 2020 •

FPPC of California Creates Task Force

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California State Capitol Building - Jeff Turner

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced the formation of a Digital Transparency Task Force. The purpose of this group is to address the issues surrounding political advertising through social media and other digital outlets. The Digital Transparency Task […]

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced the formation of a Digital Transparency Task Force.

The purpose of this group is to address the issues surrounding political advertising through social media and other digital outlets.

The Digital Transparency Task Force will study the current landscape of these outlets.

They will also look at trends and ways to keep up with the ever-changing field, including regulations possibly needing updated, enhanced, added, or strengthened.

The FPPC created the task force to help set standards and to develop best practices for transparent digital political advertising.

They will also assist the public to easily find the information in a publicly accessible database.

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March 10, 2020 •

Fundraising Window to Open for Los Angeles Citywide 2022 Candidates

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Los Angeles City Hall - Michael J Fromholtz

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission announced the fundraising window for the regular 2022 primary election. The window for citywide candidates will open March 8, 2020, while primary election are scheduled for March 8, 2022. City law specifies the primary election […]

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission announced the fundraising window for the regular 2022 primary election.

The window for citywide candidates will open March 8, 2020, while primary election are scheduled for March 8, 2022.

City law specifies the primary election fundraising window for citywide races will be 24 months.

Additionally, the window for City Council and Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (LAUSD) races will be 18 months.

The fundraising window for City Council and LAUSD candidates in the regular 2022 primary election will open September 8, 2020.

The Ethics Commission has not changed the campaign contribution limits for candidates at this time.

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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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January 30, 2020 •

Oakland Public Ethics Commission to Consider Adjusting Contribution Limits

The Public Ethics Commission will consider annual adjustments to the contribution limits at their regular meeting next week. Commission staff will present an updated list of the campaign contribution limits and expenditure ceiling amounts, as adjusted according to the increase […]

The Public Ethics Commission will consider annual adjustments to the contribution limits at their regular meeting next week.

Commission staff will present an updated list of the campaign contribution limits and expenditure ceiling amounts, as adjusted according to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as required by the Oakland Campaign Finance Reform Act.

The limitations on contributions from persons to candidates who adopt the voluntary expenditure ceiling will increase to $900 per election.

If approved, the adjusted limits will be in effect for the 2020 elections.

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