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Public Ethics Commission
Note from the Director
- Thanks to the unanimous support of City Council and 73% support of Oakland voters, the new City Charter Section 603 (Measure CC) augments the PEC’s strength, independence, and staffing necessary to accomplish the Commission's mandate. As a result, the PEC receives funding for four new full-time positions – for a total of six– to be created, approved, and filled between August and December 2015.
- In addition to advocating in 2014 for sufficient resources and independence, the PEC authored, and the City Council unanimously approved, a new Government Ethics Act, which consolidates state and local ethics laws in a single local law, imposes new ethics requirements on City employees and elected officials, and vests the PEC with broadened enforcement authority. Some of the new ethics obligations include rules prohibiting breach of confidentiality, lower limits on gifts to City staff and officials, post-employment restrictions on City staff who go on to lobby the City after leaving City employment, and the ability to enforce City Council non-interference rules.
- Alongside these policy and operational changes, PEC enforcement is ramping up. In 2014-15, the PEC has issued twice the number of fines than in the prior decade combined. The PEC has prioritized complaints concerning violations of the Oakland Campaign Reform Act (OCRA) because, prior to the passage of measure CC in 2014, OCRA was one of the few laws allowing the PEC to impose financial penalties.
- In 2013-14, the PEC revised its Complaint Procedures with an eye toward ensuring that administrative investigations and prosecutions are conducted in a manner that is orderly and fair, particularly to the accused.
- PEC Growth – creating 4 new staff positions and job classifications, recruitment, hiring and training of 5 new staff, moving and equipping new offices, and creating and revising policies and procedures for consistency with measure CC.
- Government Ethics Act Roll-out – creating training and educational materials to orient City staff and officials about the new law and answering their questions about how to comply.
- Enforcement – continuing to focus on campaign finance and ethics cases, for which the Commission can make an impact via monetary fines; the PEC recently hired an enforcement consultant to increase momentum on investigations.
- Educate/Engage – Provide education, advice, formal legal opinions, and technical assistance to ensure that all public servants, candidates for office, lobbyists, City contractors, and interested members of the public understand and are aware of the campaign finance, ethics, and transparency laws that apply to them.
- Disclose/Illuminate –Facilitate accurate, effective and accessible disclosure of government integrity data such as campaign finance reporting (ie. www.opendisclosure.io), conflicts of interest/gifts reports, and lobbyist activities, all of which help the public and PEC staff monitor filings and detect inconsistencies or noncompliance.
- Detect/Deter –Conduct investigations and audits to foster compliance with the laws within the Commission’s jurisdiction.
- Prosecute – Impose penalties and fines for violations of the laws within the PEC’s jurisdiction.
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News & Announcements
PEC Seeks Commissioner for 2015-18 Term (September 22, 2014)
Sunshine on Local Campaign Spending (September 4, 2014)
Public Ethics Commission Urges New Approaches to Transparency in Oakland (January 7, 2014)
PEC Letter to City Council Asking for Ethics Ordinance, Staff (September 16, 2013)
PEC Needs Greater Authority, Resources (July 25, 2013)
How Open is Oakland City Government? (June 21, 2013)
Electronic Filing Training Monday May 20, 2013 (May 15, 2013)
Annual Report 2012 Released by PEC (April 17, 2013)
PEC Embraces Rise in Sunshine (March 14, 2013)
PEC Welcomes Eddie Tejeda as a New Commissioner (January 23, 2013)
PEC Appoints New Commissioner Jenna M. Whitman (January 14, 2013)