tv [untitled] June 13, 2012 12:00pm-12:30pm PDT
spirit in which we -- i hope we have this discussion. it really is about finding out about how we are doing in san francisco government in terms of our enforcement of our ethics laws, and how we are doing in terms of not only how we can do things better, but also how we are doing relative to othe jurisdictions that clearly, like san francisco ha an interest and obligation in what happens with governmental ethics. to that end, one of the things that we did so that we could have a well-informed discussion was to ask the budget and legislative analyst to conduct a very brief report and steady that would compare how the city and county of san francisco is doing relative to another large jurisdiction here in california, and that is the city of los
angeles. the report by the budget and legislative analyst, which is completed and has been released -- and i see this hearing as the beginning of the discussion, and the hope for me, with respect to this hearing, is that we will hear from the budget and legislative analyst on some of their findings to talk about what we are doing well in san francisco relative to los angeles, where we can perhaps do things better, questions that arise relative to things that we are doing or not doing, and as we begin this discussion, i would imagine that it would be appropriate for us to combat at a later time to contin to have this discussion. again, it is done in the spirit of making sure we have the most effective system of rules and regulations of around government
ethics that we can have. with that, i would like to ask the office of budget and legislative -- oh, and before we do that, i will turn it over to supervisor wiener. supervisor wiener: thank you, and thank you for calling the hearing and having the audit. i look forward to the presentation. i just wanted to know -- note that even the item 7 is a separate item, i imagine there could be some interest rates when the two pieces of public comment. i will be making detailed comments when i introduced items 7, but just so members of the public know, supervisor campos and i have been working closely on added 7, and we will be requesting it be sent back to the ethics commission for further proceedings, and we will provide some thoughts we hope can guide the process, and we hope will continue to be
involved -- i know we will continue to work together to build consensus around some appropriate legislation. supervisor campos: if i may, thank you for mentioning that. once we get to items 7, you know, we have been working on this, and we look forward to more work being done. i think it is appropriate for the ethics commission to come back and look at this. the reason why i think it is important to have this conversation separately, making item 6 a separate and independent discussion is that the focus of item 7 is on specific issues. this is a larger discussion.
it is a general question about what we're doing, what we're doing well, and what we can do better. with that, if i may call our budget and legislative analyst. i want to thank mr. rose and his staff for the very quick turnaround on this issue. i want to thank you for quickly and properly and very thoroughly jumping into this issue. to you. >> thank you. i will give a quick summary of our report. we compared the city and county of san francisco was with those of the city of los angeles, and we focused on four areas. campaign finance, enforcement, and education. lobbying and transparency or disclosure requirements.
the city of l.a. has stronger provisions and requirements. i will highlight a few differences where we and the city -- with the city of l.a. has stronger requirements. lobbyists are prevented from making contributions in l.a. entirely. that is not true here, but they are 100% not allowed to make contributions in l.a. contractors are prohibited from contributing in the city o l.a. for a 12-month period after their contract is signed. here, it is a six-month window. that is the commencement of negotiations here, whereas in l.a., it is after the contract is signed. offsetting that, the threshold for the contract amount is
$100,000 in l.a. and $50,000 in san francisco. in terms of disclosure, there is more frequent reporting requirements in los angeles, of to the primary election, and in the general election, there are 12 deadlines and reporting requirements. in the city of l.a., -- in the city of l.a. there are four in the city of san francisco for reporting requirements. recently, in the month of april, actually, the city of l.a. increase its contribution limits. two months ago, they were lower than san francisco. now they are higher. for city council and controller and city attorney's office in l.a., the limit is $3,400. it is $1,500 for the mayor's office. both of those are higher here. that could be interpreted in
different ways, of course. one of the ideas that the ethics commission communicated with that they wanted to offset some of the infinite expenditure entities and their contributions by allowing individuals to make higher contributions. reporting requirements are lower in l.a. and they are here. every thousand dollars worth of expenditures have to be reported within -- i believ it is 24 hours. the threshold or the trigger for same entities is $1,000. the another difference is in l.a., those reports have to include all contributors to the independent expenditure into t that gave $100 or more, and
there is no comparable requirement in san francisco. a final difference is regarding extensions of credit. if extensions of credit are given for goods or services to a candidate goes to committee, that has to be repaid within 30 days via los angeles. otherwise, it is considered a contribution. in sentences, there's a 180-day or six-month time frame for paying off those extensions of credit. those are some of the key areas where we found the city of l.a. to have stronger provisions or requirements. we also looked at outcome statistics from the city of l.a.'s ethics commission and compare those to san francisco. the information the report on their web sites -- we do not have a lot of information that differences in their procedures and what goes into accepting a
case, for example, for a commission hearing for action, but in terms of the results, the penalties reported were higher on average in the city of los angeles. $7,746. this is from about 2004 through 2010. san francisco's average was $6,080. they also have a much lower dismissal rate. many more cases seem to come to the commission and be dismissed then is the case in los angeles. did i say the opposite? excuse me, l.a. has 19% and san francisco, 76%.
much higher in san francisco than in alan. of the difference is fund raising is prohibited by contractor principles, and subcontractors in los angeles. they are not spelled out in the san francisco coach, while fundraising by contractors -- excuse me, contributions by contractors is prohibited. fund-raising by their principals and subcontractors is not prohibited in san francisco. there are some compliance costs that are considered qualifying expenditures in los angeles. that would work towards getting the expenditure ceiling. in san francisco, there are some exemptions to those costs. cash contributions can only be
made for less than $25. for here, and his less than $100. those have less information about the contributor. in terms of education, the city of los angeles publishes a contributor that -- died. san francisco does not. it is on the website of the l.a. ethics commission, and we do not have anything comparable year. we have guides for candidates, of course, as does l.a. in terms of enforcement authority of the ethics commission's, they are similar in both cities. penalties of $5,000 or three times the value of the infraction can be imposed in both cities. one difference, though, is backed penalties can be imposed by a civil action brought by a citizen in los angeles. hear, the language appears to state that penalties can only be
imposed if through enforcement action, which means the ethics commission or the city attorney or district attorney was involved in the process, but not civil action brought by a citizen. lobbyists must file monthly reports in san francisco. i. los angeles, it is quarterly, but here is a case where san francisco has the more stringent requirement. reporting threshold is lower in san francisco. it is $100 vs $1,000. also in san francisco, regarding lobbyists, lobbyists must complete a training here that is not required in los angeles. the penalty for lobbyist infractions is $2,000 or three times the amount of an illegal debt in san francisco. i. los angeles, it is the greater of the amount of $2,000 or the amount of the gift. it could and it being lower or
higher. -- it could end up being lower or higher. san francisco for his contributions from corporations entirely. l.a. does not have the same limitation. san francisco does not allow anonymous contributions in any amount. l.a. does allow anonymous contributions up to $200. i think i mentioned before, reports are required quarterly in l.a. expenditure caps are lower in san francisco for district and city wide offices. those are some of the key points. happy to answer any questions.
supervisor campos: before i turn it over to my colleagues, the one thing i want to say is i am not really passing judgment one way or the other on some of the points. it is simply about providing information to this body and also providing affirmation to the ethics commission. our hope is that after this hearing that this report can be sent to the ethics commission said that they can consider areas where maybe some changes or enhancements may be appropriate. it is up to them to figure out what those recommendations are, but the hope is that in the process of doing that, back -- that the ethics commission will have the meaningful public engagement process that allows interested parties across the board to be able to provide insight and perspective on these things. >> i thank the supervisors for
being here. -- supervisor farrell: i thank supervisors campos and wiener for being here. was "los angeles times only of the city and looked at, and have there been discussions of looking at other cities as well? i think they could be a lot of debate about how to handle these things. >> yes, the assignment was just in comparison to l.a. supervisor farrell: i think that will be something interesting to look at going forward. there's a big difference between the city council and mayor's race in l.a. has that -- i should say bifurcation of contribution amounts always existed in l.a.? >> yes, it has. i do not have the previous numbers right in front of me, but yes, they have always had that distinction. it is a citywide office, and
those amounts apply not only to the mayor, but to the city attorney and to the controller. for whatever reason, they have always had that distinction. that is it 1700 and 1300? >> 700 city council. 1300 -- supervisor farrell: what was it before? >> i do not have that number in front of me. >> the spring, it was changed from 500 for city council offices and 1000 for mayor. supervisor farrell: you said that had not changed in eight years, correct? >> [inaudible] supervisor farrell: ok. our $500 has been around for 20- plus years.
ok, as we continue to talk about limiting money in government, which i fully agree with, and the political system, i think that it's an interesting discussion with what we have seen this last week with citizens united. thank you. >> that same bifurcation exists with the expenditure side. lower cap for city council members to produce a break in public financing, and the mayor, city controler, and city attorney can spend more. supervisor wiener: i did want to follow up -- i do not the with the right answer is, and i do not know that i had a particularly strong view on this subject, but in terms of money flowing into canada accounts compared independent expenditure accounts, there is a dynamic where is it goes into canada accounts, it gets pushed into independent expenditure accounts. i am not saying all the candidates are perfect, but i
think you can see a lower level of negativity coming directly from canada to some of the outside groups. just a topic for discussions. if you assume money will always find a place to go in politics for better or for worse -- we have a lot more control over canada accounts than some of the outside bids because of the awful citizens united case. but i do have a question, a clarification. in terms of the percentage of the ethics cases that were dismissed -- it is a much higher percentage in san francisco than in l.a. -- with -- which of the ethics complaints came from the sunshine ordinance, and which did not? >> there were 33 of the 137 that were sunshine ordinance.
if you do not have it right now, that is fine. >> i do not know how many were also -- i could get that information to you. supervisor wiener: that would be great. thank you. supervisor campos: before we turn it over to public comment, one quick question -- did you looked at the issue of staffing or resources -- wondering what level of staffing is provided in los angeles compared to what may be provided here. >> no, we did not compare the staffing between the tip of the zero offices. supervisor campos: if there is interest in expanding the
analysis, we could do that. this simply chose one city as a starting point. if people want to expand beyond that, it is totally appropriate to do that. we have a number of speaker cards. [reading names] i do not know if we have and it would hear from the ethics commission, if there is something the ethics commission would like to say before we move to public comment. i apologize. before we go to public comment, if we could have someone from the ethics commission hearing >> -- ethics commission. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i actually do not have anything to say about this. we have not received a report,
but we would be interested in looking at it. supervisor campos: thank you very much. with that, the folks that i called, and in addition, i have a number of other cards. [reading names] any member of the public who would like to speak, please come forward. thank you very much. >> first and foremost, i read the report. it was forwarded to me by a gentleman who is here in this room. my experience when i worked in the presidio as a congressional liaison, gave me an insight of the lot of the factors or the elements that should go into a good report. so the population, as the report states, is about for san
francisco 800,000, but as i just verified, and i read it, l.a. is 2.2 million. we see that san francisco dismisses 76%, whereas l.a., 19%. what we need to discuss very, very deeply is the role of consultants that proxy's are used to give donations to the supervisors. for example, it says here during this time, a contractor can do this, that, or the other, but a contractor can split $5,000 to 100 people, proxy's, and that goes into the campaign of some of your supervisors.
so you are going to open a can of worms, and i hope you open a can of worms as soon as possible. as one of your supervisors said, it is good that we have some variables comparable to san francisco. thank you very much. supervisor campos: next speaker. anyone? anyone whose name was called, for anyone who would like to speak, please come up. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am speaking as an individual, but i am with the sunshine ordinance task force and have been for 10 years. regarding the 33 dismissals of sunshine complaints by the ethics commission, the board and this committee should be aware of some things. one, a lot of those dismissals should not have been dismissals.
they have come from the staff level, not the commission itself. and they have been, in many cases, on the flimsiest of legal reasoning. second, the ethics commission is now undergoing a thorough review of the guidelines for handling sunshine-related complaints referred to them by us, and chances are that the ethics commission will have a much more hands-on approach to those referrals here finally, without the sunshine ordinance task force, the ethics commission itself would receive a lot more sunshine complaints, and the city attorney's office would be spending a lot more time in court handling sunshine cases. if you are thinking about abolishing the task force, think twice. supervisor campos: next speaker please.
>> good afternoon. thank you very much for convening this hearing. i am actually quite delighted to be here and to have this hearing and the report. i was the ethics commission a for a term of six years. finished my term last year. during that time, i was very interested in having more discussion along the lines of the report from the budget and legislative analyst. i agree with supervisor campos that it really raises -- it gives us the opportunity for an open and comprehensive discussion about ethics reform, and i think we are just far behind in doing that work. i am delighted to have the opportunity to now create what i hope will be progress of ethics
reform legislation. i think we have seen the civil grand jury report that labeled the ethics commission a sleeping watchdog. unfortunately, i have to concur with that report and that moniker. during my time on the ethics commission, i did not feel that there was the political will to be proactive and to take on the kind of work that was indicated in this report. in particular, i know that there are other people here who will speak to specific issues, but i would just note that whatever we can do in the wake of citizens united to follow the money, such as some things that are cited in that report and more, looking at increasing the frequency of reporting for both contributions and reporting, for having political contributions from registered lobbyists, ensuring that we have an appropriate definition of
lobbyist and making sure lobbyists are registered because we do not have all the lobbyists registered in the city, and there is more. supervisor campos: thank you. thank you very much. next speaker. i will read a few more names. [leading names] >> thank you. in 1993, i was the author of an op-ed piece in the first-owned "examiner" proposing the creation of a commission. we used los angeles as the example and the model for what should happen to san francisco. since that time, we now have ethics commission's in oakland and in san jose and in san diego, but l.a. is sort of the gold standard for what is going on with the largest staff and the more active things. a number of things have happened in the intervening years to create loopholes which
we did not consider. for example, we have a law that bans people who are seeking contracts from making contributions, but we do not have a law that prohibits people seeking permits -- especially large privets -- from making contributions -- especially large permits. we did a test here the number of lobbyists contracts in 2011 totalled 1100670 peer those without permits was 1529. those about contracts were 179. you can see which is the biggest loophole. it is not contracts. in addition, while we further the contractors from making contributions, we do not prohibit them from bundling contributions from others or serving on a fund-raising group to get money. these are all loopholes that have been closed by los angeles but have not been addressed here in san francisco. i have a lot more i would like
to leave you with some notes on some of the other issues, but i direct your attention to the fact that everything we have in our ethics commission is in english only. yet, our audience is not english only. if you go into the los angeles ethics commission, there's a drop down where you can get it in chinese or spanish or a number of other languages. even when we have a hearing on a violation that involves a community that is modeling will, they do not have a translator that stands up and speaks. supervisor campos: i would like to finish the statement you were making, but we want to make sure everyone gets the same amount of time. anything else? >> in fact we have lobbyists knows that a stronger does not change the fact that it is not accessible. i feed it to the web page, every link is