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 until 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?
Electronic filing is mandatory, and no paper is filed with the City Clerk. When you use the City Clerk's Electronic Filing System (ELF) to file your SEI, you will automatically have a copy of your filing available for use at the next filing deadline. This will make next year's filing even 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. REVIEW YOUR DISCLOSURE CATEGORY here to determine the types of financial interests you are required to disclose.
STEP 2. Access ELF here.
STEP 3. Enter your email address and select "Lost Password." Your password will be e-mailed to you. If you receive a message that your e-mail is not recognized, please contact your department/board liaison or the City Clerk's Office to get set up for electronic filing.
STEP 4. Log in to ELF once you have received your password.
STEP 5. Once you have successfully logged in, select the type of filing you are preparing ("Assuming Office," "Leaving Office," or "Annual"). Follow the directions below:
a. In the "Filings to Complete" window, select the tab for "Listed Filing."
b. Select the filing you wish to complete ("Assuming Office," "Leaving Office," or "Annual").
c. Follow the directions for each schedule (on the right of your screen in ELF) and fill in the appropriate fields based on your disclosure category.
d. Once you have filled in all the appropriate fields, you must select "View" to review your draft Form 700. If you do not select "View," you will not be able to e-file.
e. After you determine that your draft Form 700 is correct, select "E-File." You will be prompted to enter your e-mail address.
f. Enter your e-mail address, so you may receive your confirmation.
g. If you do not receive an e-mail confirmation of your successful e-filing, re-enter ELF and start with step b, above, to "Edit" your draft Form 700. Then repeat steps c-f.
When you have successfully e-filed your Form 700, you will receive a confirmation e-mail from "Netfile." With a successful e-filing, the City Clerk's Office will not need a paper copy of your Form 700.
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 may be waived, but often it may not. Don't risk it!
State law imposes a GIFT LIMIT and HONORARIA BAN on filers. Contact the Clerk's 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?
Call the Clerk's Office at (619) 533-4025 for 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).