Fundamentals of the Statement of Economic Interests
- What is a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI)?
- Why do I have to file an SEI?
- The Conflict of Interest Code
- When do I have to file?
- Where do I have to file?
- How do I complete my SEI?
- What else should I know?
- Where do I go for help?
What is a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI)?
The Statement of Economic Interests (Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700) is a public document which public officials and certain government employees, including consultants and even volunteer board members, use to disclose financial interests.
Why do I have to file an SEI?
Public officials and designated employees file SEIs. Public officials are statutory filers specified in Government Code §87200. They include Mayors, Councilmembers, City Attorneys, City Managers, Planning Commissioners, and persons who manage public investments. Designated employees hold designated positions, positions which involve making or participating in the making of decisions which may foreseeably have a material effect on the holder's financial interests. Such positions are listed in the agency's conflict of interest code; people in these positions must file SEIs pursuant to the disclosure categories specified in that code. (Agency includes a City business center, department, corporation, board or commission.)
The Conflict of Interest Code
A Conflict of Interest Code is a set of rules and regulations adopted pursuant to the Political Reform Act. As mentioned above, it designates certain positions whose holders must file disclosure statements. It also specifies appropriate levels of disclosure. The disclosure provisions may require the reporting of investments, interests in real property, income and other financial interests. A code also contains specific provisions setting forth the circumstances under which employees must disqualify themselves from making or participating in the making of a decision.
It often happens that what your code requires you to disclose is quite different from what another filer in your department has to disclose. Remember: The types of financial interests you must disclose depend upon the responsibilities of your job.
Codes are reviewed biennially to keep them current. Codes and code revisions are adopted by Council resolution.
When do I have to file?
Essentially, there are four times to file Form 700.
An "initial" statement is required within 30 days of the date when an office or position has been added to a newly-adopted or newly-amended conflict of interest code.
An "assuming office" statement is required within 30 days of the date when you take a position already designated in a conflict of interest code.
"Annual" statements are required before April 1 of each year, covering the preceding calendar year. (Good news if you assumed office after September: no "annual" required til next April!)
A "leaving office" statement is required within 30 days of the date you leave a designated position.
Where do I have to file?
The Form 700 with your original signature must be in the Clerk's Office prior to the filing deadline. Please note that your agency head may ask you to submit your Form 700 to him or her, so all the SEI's for the agency can be filed with the Clerk at one time. Also, keep a copy for yourself, to make next years filing easier.
How do I complete my SEI?
Sometimes the answer is simple, and sometimes it isn't. It depends upon what financial interests you are required to disclose, and what financial interests you hold. You MUST know what your disclosure category requires you to report.
STEP 1. GET FORM 700 AND A COPY OF YOUR DISCLOSURE CATEGORY from your agency, your board liaison, or the Clerks Office, or from this website.
STEP 2. COMPLETE THE SCHEDULES OF FORM 700 FIRST, after making sure you know the types of financial interests you are required to disclose. Excellent instructions accompany each part of Form 700--if they apply to a schedule on which you have something to report. PLEASE READ THEM.
Put your name on each schedule you complete. Please recycle any schedules you don't use.
STEP 3. When you have completed the appropriate schedule(s), then go back to the cover (signature) page of Form 700.
The Cover Page: At the very least, this page of Form 700 MUST be filed with the Clerks Office on or before the filing deadline. Fill it out completely, starting with your full name, mailing address and daytime phone number.
Section 1, Office, Agency or Court: On the first line, put the name of your department, or your corporation, or your board or commission. On the second line, if you are in a department that is broken into divisions, please list your division--it matters! On the third line, put the name of your position AS IT APPEARS IN YOUR CONFLICT OF INTEREST CODE.
If you only hold one designated position, leave the lines below the "arrow" blank. There are a few people who hold more than one designated position; typically, they serve on more than one board or commission. They may file a single "expanded statement" which discloses all the financial interests required of them by all the conflict of interest codes which designate them. They indicate in Section 1 what designated positions are covered by the expanded statement. If you're one of these few people, the Clerk will send you a letter telling you so.
Section 2, Office Jurisdiction. Check the box next to "City of." Write in "San Diego."
Section 3, Type of Statement. Check at least one box ("Assuming Office" or "Annual" or "Leaving Office" or "Candidate") AND check at least one circle, where appropriate.
If you are "assuming office", write in the date you took the designated position. (Boardmembers: The date you assumed office is the date the City Council passed the resolution appointing you to the board or commission. Not sure what that date is? Call (619) 533-4000 for help.)
If you are filing an "annual" statement, remember that you are disclosing information from the previous calendar year!
If you are filing a "leaving office" statement, be sure to write in the date of your last day in the designated position.
Section 4, Schedule Summary. If you have disclosed reportable interests on any of the schedules, please check the appropriate box or boxes in this section. You are confirming that one or more schedules are attached to the cover page and contain information that you are required by law to disclose.
You may have no financial interests of the type youre required to disclose, according to your conflict of interest code. You will not have completed any schedules, so you should check the "No reportable interests" box at the "arrow", and file only the completed cover page with the Clerk's Office.
At the "arrow," fill in the total number of pages you are filing, including the cover page, in the space provided.
Section 5, Verification. Date and sign the form. Attach any completed schedules, remembering to put your name on each page.
STEP 4. FILE! The original must be filed with the Clerk's Office on or before the filing deadline! Remember to keep a copy for your own records.
What else should I know?
FILE ON TIME! Late filers face a fine of $10 per day, up to a maximum of $100. Sometimes the fine is waivable, but often it isnt. Dont risk it!
State law imposes a GIFT LIMIT and HONORARIA BAN on filers. Contact the Clerks Office to find out the current gift limit per calendar year from any one source who is a reportable source of income.
Where do I go for help?
The Clerk's Office, at (619) 533-4025, can help with technical questions regarding Form 700. However, we are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice.
If you have questions related to reporting your interests, you may wish to contact the Ethics Commission for assistance.
You may also contact the Fair Political Practices Commission at (866) 275-3772 (toll-free).