San Francisco Government Ethics Laws and Conflicts of Interest
On Sunshine Ordinance Task Force Member
by Patrick Monette-Shaw
A number of complaints against Sunshine Ordinance Task Force member David Pilpel have been recently filed documenting probable violations of both the Statement of Incompatible Activities (SIA) applicable to Sunshine Ordinance Task Force members, and violations of state and local regulations requiring annual submission of Form 700 Statements of Economic Activities (SEI) required by San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code to be filed on the California Fair Political Practices Commission's Form 700:
|June 22, 2014||First SIA Complaint Against SOTF Member David Pilpel||
Submitted to the Clerk of the Board of San Franciscos Board of Supervisors on June 22, the complaint was forwarded by Ms. Angela Calvillo to the Ethics Commission on June 25 for resolution. The Ethics Commission accepted the complaint, and it is under review.
Complaint Remains Pending
Status Update August 21: As of August
18, notice was received that the first SIA complaint against
Pilpel filed on June 22, 2014 remains pending.
|July 26, 2014||FPPC SEI Complaint Against SOTF Member David Pilpel||
Complaint Declined Amended
Status Update July 9: In a letter from the FPPC dated August 5 received
on August 6, the FPPC declined to open an investigation, indicating
that the San Francisco Ethics Commission confirmed to the FPPC
that a paper hardcopy of Pilpels Form 700 is available
in the Ethics Commissions office.
Pilpel had been notified prior to March 2, 2014 of the requirement that he file his Form 700 directly to and with Peggy Nevin, the Board of Supervisors Filing Officer who prepared a Certification of Delivery report on behalf of Ms. Calvillo, who as Clerk of the Board is the department head responsible for sending annual reminders to members of boards and commissions like the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Pilpel should have known that he needed to submit the Form 700 to Ms. Nevin prior to the April 1 deadline.
On March 8, Ms. Cavillo and Ms. Nevin signed and submitted to the Ethics Commission a Filing Officer Report submitted to the Ethics Commission that reported SOTF Member Pilpel and SOTFs then chairperson, Kitt Grant, had both failed to file their Form 700's with their Filing Office (Ms. Nevin) at the Board of Supervisors by the April 1 due date.
On May 2, the Ethics Commission sent Pilpel its first letter notifying him that he had failed to comply with the April 1 due date
On July 2, the Ethics Commission sent notices to 39 filers who had not submitted their Form 700s by the April 1 due date. Pilpel is one of the 39 late filers (and non-filers) who wee sent the notice on July 2.
Four months later, now that Pilpels Form 700 has somehow magically surfaced as having been received by the Ethics Commission on April 14, theres a host of unanswered questions and no information about where the form has been all these months, and why the Ethics Commission continues to include Pilpels name on-line in a list of non-filers.
The Ethics Commissions non-filers table on its web site as of August 9 states that filers did not file the Statement of Economic Interests (Form 700), and have been late by at least 60 days, have been notified twice in writing, and have been referred to the FPPC for possible enforcement, and now indicates there is some sort of unresolvable complication with Pilpels Form 700 filing that only a paper copy (not an electronic copy) is available.
To be fair to Mr. Pilpel, either the Ethics Commission should remove his name from the on-line list of non-filers, or provide an explanation of what unresolvable complications remain that may justify continuing to include on-line Pilpels name in a list of non-filers.
And the Ethics Commission has offered no explanation as to why it has not scanned Pilpels Form 700 paper copy to PDF format and uploaded it to the searchable database of SEIs filed with the City along with Pilpels previous on-line filings.
This sordid affair could have been entirely avoided, had Pilpel
submitted his Form 700 to his Filing Officer at the Board of
Supervisors before the April 1 deadline.
|July 27, 2014||
Amended Status Update July 9: The Ethics Commission never confirmed receipt of the complaint, has not indicated whether it may have been dismissed, and has not indicated whether the complaint may remain pending.
The addendum to to initial complaint involves whether Pilpels failure to submit his Form 700 after a four-month period constitutes willful failure to have complied with San Franciscos Conflict of Interest and Ethics Laws.
Mr. Pilpel did not file his Form 700 by the required April
1, 2014 deadline, despite having been notified on March 2 of the required due date.
Again,as of May 2, the Ethics Commission had sent Pilpel
its first letter notifying him that he had failed to comply
with the April 1 due date. Pilpel has now been notified
in writing twice by
the Ethics Commission, has been late at least 60 days (he has
actually been late for four months as of August 3), and he has
been referred by the Ethics Commission to the FPPC for possible
Complaint Dismissed Amended Status Update August 21: The August 13 complaint dismissal letter from the Ethics Commission claimed that the FPPC had provided notice on August 5, 2014 that Mr. Pipel had submitted a paper SEI Form 700 to the Ethics Commission on April 1.
The dismissal letter is simply incorrect: The FPPCs letter contained no date on which the Ethics Commission had located Mr. Pilpels Form 700, and did not mention the date on which Pilpel may have actually submitted it to the Ethics Commission. Indeed Pilpels Form 700 scanned from hardcopy to PDF format and finally provided by the Ethics Commission on August 8 bears a date-time stamp that the Ethics Commission had received it on April 14, not on April 1, as wrongly reported in the complaint dismissal letter dated August 13.
Oddly, as of August 21, Pilpel remains listed on the Ethics Commission's non-filers web page, with the explanation that there is some sort of unresolvable complication with Pilpels Form 700 filing that only a paper copy (not an electronic copy) is available.
If, according to the Executive Directors August 13 complaint
dismissal letter that Pilpel had submitted his Form 700 on April
1, no explanation has been provided why Pilpel may have been
wrongly plaed on the non-filers web page to begin with.
|August 3, 2014||Second SIA Complaint Against SOTF Member David Pilpel||
Complaint Dismissed Status Update August 21: Notice was received on August 15 that the second SIA complaint against Pilpel involving the Ethics Commissions July 28 hearing was dismissed by the Ethics Commission's Executive Director on August 13. Due to potential improprieties in the August 13 dismissal letter, an appeal on the dismissal will be submitted to the Ethics Commission at its September 22 meeting.
The dismissal letter cited only Section III.A.1 of the applicable SIA, and did not address Section III.B.1, Restrictions That Apply to Officers or Employees in Specified Positions, which expressly prohibits officers providing advice concerning Sunshine Ordinance complaints to other entities. Dismissing the second complaint without considering Section III.B.1 of the SIA, and without considering prohibitions against ex parte communications, is troubling.
The Sunshine and Ethics training provided by the City Attorneys office in the Sunshine & Ethics Training Video from 2014 on the City Attorneys web site that Mr. Pilpel is required to have taken as part of his annual and bi-annual filings indicates that boards and commissions such as the Sunshine Task Force may act like an adjudicative court, and must protect the parties due process rights, and commissioners must act like judges, including following procedural rules such as bans on ex parte communications.
The Ethics Commission Executive Directors dismissal of the second SIA complaint did not address the prohibitions against ex parte communications.