The commission shall conduct investigations in accordance with this subdivision of alleged violations of this charter and City ordinances relating to campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest and governmental ethics.
If the commission, upon the receipt of a sworn compliant of any person or its own initiative, has reason to believe that a violation of this charter or City ordinances relating to campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest or governmental ethics has occurred, the commission immediately shall forward the complaint or information in its possession regarding the alleged violation to the district attorney and City attorney. Within ten working days, after receipt of the complaint or information, the district attorney and City attorney shall inform the commission in writing regarding whether the district attorney or City attorney has initiated or intends to pursue an investigation of the matter
If the commission, upon the sworn complaint or on its own initiative, determines that there is sufficient cause to conduct an investigation, it shall investigate alleged violations of this charter or City ordinances relating to campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest and governmental ethics. A complaint filed with the commission shall be investigated only if it identifies the specific alleged violations which form the basis for the complaint and the commission determines that the complaint contains sufficient facts to warrant an investigation.
Within 14 days after receiving notification that neither the district attorney nor City attorney intends to pursue an investigation, the commission shall notify in writing the person who made the complaint of the action, if any, the commission has taken or plans to take on the complaint, together with the reasons for such action or non-action. If no decision has been made within 14 days, the person who made the complaint shall be notified of the reasons for the delay and shall subsequently receive notification as provided above.
The investigation shall be conducted in a confidential manner. Records of any investigation shall be considered confidential information to the extent permitted by state law. Any member or employee of the commission or other person who, prior to a determination concerning probable cause, discloses information about any preliminary investigation, except as necessary to conduct the investigation, shall be deemed guilty of official misconduct. The unauthorized release of confidential information shall be sufficient grounds for the termination of the employee or removal of the commissioner responsible for such release.
Findings of Probable Cause.
No finding of probable cause to believe that a provision of this charter or City ordinances relating to campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest or governmental ethics has been violated shall be made by the commission unless, at least 21 days prior to the commission’s consideration of the alleged violation, the person alleged to have committed the violation is notified of the alleged violation by service of process or registered mail with return receipt requested, is provided with a summary of the evidence, and is informed of his or her right to be present in person and to be represented by counsel at any proceeding of the commission held for the purpose of considering whether probable cause exists for believing the person committed the violation. Notice to the alleged violator shall be deemed made on the date of service, the date the registered mail receipt is signed, or, if the registered mail receipt is not signed, the date returned by the post office. A proceeding held for the purpose of considering probable cause shall be private to the extent permitted by state law unless the alleged violator files with the commission a written request that the proceeding be public.
Administrative Orders and Penalties.
When the commission determines there is probable cause for believing a provision of this charter or City ordinance has been violated, it may hold a public hearing to determine if such a violation has occurred. When the commission determines on the basis of substantial evidence presented at the hearing that a violation has occurred, it shall issue an order which may require the violator to:
Cease and desist the violation;
File any reports, statements or other documents or information required by law; and/or
Pay a monetary penalty to the general fund of the City of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation or three times the amount which the person failed to report properly or unlawfully contributed, expended, gave or received, whichever is greater. Penalties that are assessed but uncollected after 60 days shall be referred to the bureau of delinquent revenues for collection.
In addition, with respect to City officers other than those identified in Section 8.107 of this charter, when the commission determines on the basis of substantial evidence presented at the hearing that a violation has occurred, the commission may recommend to the appointing officer that the officer be removed from office.
When the commission determines that no violation has occurred, it shall publish a declaration so stating.
In addition to any other penalty that may be imposed by law, any person who violates any provision of this charter or of a City ordinance relating to campaign finance, lobbying, conflicts of interest or governmental ethics, or who causes any other person to violate any such provision, or who aids and abets any other person in such violation, shall be liable under the provisions of this section.
(Amended November 2001)