Formal Advice

Advice Letters

If you have a more complicated question about your obligations under the Act and you would like legal advice from the FPPC’s staff attorneys, you may request formal advice by submitting your inquiry in writing to Advice@fppc.ca.gov or by sending your request to:

        Fair Political Practices Commission
        428 J Street, Suite 620
        Sacramento, CA 95814

If the request for advice contains sufficient information and the question is within the FPPC’s jurisdiction, the FPPC must provide formal written advice within 21 working days. The response will be provided in the form of an “advice letter.” 

A formal advice letter can provide the requestor immunity from enforcement actions by the FPPC. It also provides evidence of good faith conduct in any relevant civil or criminal proceeding brought by another party, so long as the facts presented in the request for advice are accurate and the requestor follows the guidance provided in the FPPC’s advice letter. Formal advice does not provide immunity to any person other than the requestor.

The FPPC saves and posts all advice letters which you can click here to search. The letters may be searched and used for guidance only – they will not provide immunity to any person other than the original requestor.

Required Information in Request for Formal Written Advice

The request must:

  • Be in writing,
  • Provide specific information about the requestor, and
  • Contain sufficient information for the FPPC staffs attorneys to conduct a complete legal anaysis.
If a request does not meet these criteria, the FPPC may provide an informal written reply with general guidance. This type of advice does not provide the requestor with immunity from enforcement actions. 

Commission Opinions

Another form of formal advice is a Commission Opinion. Any individual or entity (or their authorized representative) may request a formal opinion from the Commission concerning their duties under the Act. The Commission's Executive Director must accept or reject a request for a formal opinion within 14 days.

A request will normally be rejected if the question can be answered under existing statutes or regulations, or does not otherwise present a significant policy issue. In addition, since the process requires formal action by the full Commission, it normally takes several months after the question is submitted and accepted before a formal opinion may be issued. Due to the topic restrictions and the processing time, Commission Opinions are infrequent.

A Commission Opinion provides the requestor with immunity from civil or criminal prosecution under the Act so long as the facts presented by the requestor are accurate and the requestor acts within the confines of the opinion. More details about the formal opinion process can be found in sections 18320 through 18326 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations. Prior Commission Opinions are available online, click here to search.

You may submit your request for an official Commission opinion to ExecutiveDirector@fppc.ca.gov or by mailing your request to the FPPC at the address provided above.