Proposition D — Changes to Local Ethics Laws

See our March 2024 SF Election Guide for a nonpartisan analysis of measures and contests on the ballot in San Francisco for the election occurring March 5, 2024. Voters will consider the following proposition in that election.

Proposition D would amend the city’s Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code by expanding the kinds of gifts that city officials are prohibited from accepting. It also expands existing rules to bar people who have tried to influence city officials in the past or who have business with city departments from giving gifts.

The proposition was created in response to ongoing bribery, fraud and money laundering charges that involve individuals across several departments. Another significant change would allow the city to fine officials who fail to make required disclosures about any relationship that may represent a conflict of interest, and impose penalties on lobbyists, permit consultants and third parties who pass gifts to officials.

The measure also creates additional ethics training requirements for employees with decision-making authority, expanding the training pool to include more than 4,000 decision-makers in local government. It would remove exceptions for what is considered a “gift” and standardize rules around non-work activities as well as disclosure requirements for gifts given to city departments.

The proposition requires more than 50% affirmative votes to go into effect. A “yes” vote means you support the changes to gift regulations and additional trainings. A “no” vote means you want bribery regulations to remain the same.

If passed, the changes would be implemented about six months after the election. Future changes to the ethics code would need to be passed by voters, or by supermajorities of the Ethics Commission and Board of Supervisors if voters approve the measure.

The main proponent of the measure is the San Francisco Ethics Commission, which voted unanimously to endorse it.

“Our city residents and dedicated public servants alike expect and deserve a city government that works to promote the public good, not personal interests,” said Theis Finlev, the commission’s vice chair. “Reformed conflict of interest laws and increased training for city officials can help ensure that governmental decisions are made on a fair and impartial basis.”

Opponents of the measure include Eve Del Castello, president of the Republican Forum of San Francisco, and Larry Marso, an attorney and tech executive. Marso wrote that Proposition D is a bureaucratic measure “to justify out-of-control spending and bloated staff.”

The Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the measure would cost $43,000 upfront and an additional $25,000 annually for software related to implementing new trainings and tracking gift disclosures. This represents a small fraction of the commission’s annual budget, which is about $788,000 for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

No paid remarks in support or opposition were submitted.

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