SF Ethics Officials Propose Broad Expansion of Exemption to City Ethics Laws Prohibiting “Golden Parachutes”

Under a plan to be voted on by the San Francisco Ethics Commission, a narrowly crafted exemption to city ethics rules to allow Interim Mayor Ed Lee to return to his post as City Administrator next year would be dramatically expanded to allow all appointed members of the Board of Supervisors to potentially circumvent post-employment job restrictions that have been city law since 1932.  If the Ethics Commission approves the proposal, it would then go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

The new proposal would exempt any appointed Mayor and all appointed members of the Board of Supervisors who decline to run for election to their office from a long-standing city ethics rule prohibiting them from obtaining full-time, compensated employment with the city for one year after their last day of service.  That ethics law, Section 3.234(b) of the Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code, was first enacted as part of the City Charter in 1932 as part of a citywide anti-corruption reform movement.  The law is designed to prohibit public officials from trying to create “golden parachutes” for themselves – lucrative city jobs that would be awaiting them once they left office.

In an April 6 memorandum, San Francisco Ethics Commission Deputy Executive Director Mabel Ng asserted that the ethics exemption should apply to members of the Board of Supervisors because “the same arguments supporting an exception for appointed Mayors like Mayor Lee apply equally to appointed members of the Board.”  However, while over the past 30 years there has been only one appointed San Francisco Mayor, there were 14 appointed members of the Board of Supervisors, an average of one nearly every other year.

Read the April 6 Ethics Commission staff memorandum here:   post_employment_mayor_appt_1.2011_packet

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