FPPC Complaint Process
INFORMATION REGARDING THE FPPC'S COMPLAINT PROCESS
The information below will assist you in filing a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission if you suspect a violation of the Political Reform Act ("the Act"). Please read these instructions carefully. A complaint form must be completed in its entirety to constitute the submission of a sworn complaint. If you have any questions regarding the information required by the complaint form, do not hesitate to call and speak with a Political Reform Consultant in the Commission's Enforcement Division 916-322-5660 and press 1 or toll free at 866-ASK-FPPC and press 1. Often, discussing your complaint with a consultant will expedite its processing and resolution.
II. Filing a Complaint
A. Sworn Complaint
The law provides that if you suspect a violation of the Act you may file a sworn complaint with the FPPC (Gov. Code Sec. 83115).
The Act and FPPC Regulations provide that a sworn complaint filed with the FPPC entitles the complainant to certain rights and processes, described below. A sworn complaint must comply with certain requirements. Using the complaint form and providing as detailed information as possible will assist the FPPC in processing your complaint. At a minimum, you must do all of the following:
- Submit your complaint in writing.
- Sign the complaint under penalty of perjury.
- Identify the person(s) who allegedly violated the Act and list the specific provisions the person(s) violated.
- Describe with particularity the facts constituting the alleged violation and provide any evidence to support the complaint.
- Include names and addresses of witnesses, if known.
The FPPC may only act on complaints alleging violations within its jurisdiction. In order for us to process your complaint, all of the pertinent information the form asks of the complainant must appear on the form, not as an attachment. The complaint must state a specific violation of the act including the date on which it occurred, and must also state how you have personal knowledge of the violation. It may be helpful to contact our Enforcement Division prior to filing a complaint to determine whether the activity presents an issue on which the FPPC has jurisdiction to act. For immediate assistance from the Enforcement Division, call 916-322-5660 and press 1 or toll free at 866-ASK-FPPC and press 1.
B. Potential Anonymity of Complainant A complaint sent to the FPPC is subject to the Public Records Act and public disclosure, except under very limited circumstances.
If you wish to file a sworn complaint and believe you have legitimate reasons for us to keep your identity as the complainant confidential, please call our offices (916-322-5660 and press 1 or toll free at 866-ASK-FPPC and press 1) and ask to discuss the matter with an Enforcement Division attorney. The attorney will assess your status and advise you of the possibility of withholding disclosure of your identity. However, a court could ultimately make this determination.
After you discuss the matter with an FPPC attorney, if the attorney advises you the FPPC would make a claim to protect your identity, a sworn complaint form including an affidavit setting forth the basis of your claim will be prepared and sent to you to complete, sign under penalty of perjury and return to the FPPC.
C. Anonymous Complaints: Toll Free "tip line" 800-561-1861 If you do not want your name disclosed in connection with your complaint under any circumstances, you may call 800-561-1861 on Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and make the complaint anonymously. Commission staff will evaluate your claims and has the authority to pursue a complaint on its own initiative.
III. Complaint Process
Within 14 days of receiving your sworn complaint, we will tell you how we intend to proceed. Be advised that unless the Chief of Enforcement deems otherwise, within three business days of receiving your sworn complaint we will send a copy of it to the person(s) you allege violated the law.
IV. Commission Action
A sworn complaint found to merit a full investigation will be assigned to the Enforcement Division staff, including an attorney, and an investigator or accounting specialist, or both. The Enforcement Division may obtain additional documents, interview witnesses, including the person alleged to have violated the Act, and issue subpoenas.
Once our Enforcement Division staff has fully investigated a complaint, they may ask the Commissioners to approve a settlement agreement in which the subject of the investigation agrees to pay an administrative fine or take other remedial action. The FPPC may also close the case for lack of supporting evidence or other reasons. Alternatively, the case may be appropriate for a formal process that can result in an administrative prosecution and a hearing before an administrative law judge and possibly the full Commission. Finally, the FPPC may levy fines, dismiss the case or take other appropriate action.
In some cases, the FPPC may prosecute a case by a filing a civil lawsuit in the courts. The case may also be referred to a district attorney or the Attorney General for criminal prosecution.
V. Complaint Form
To file a sworn complaint, please fill out and print the complaint form Complaint Form and mail it to the address on the form.
For more information, you may call the FPPC at 916-322-5660 and press 1 or toll free at 866-ASK-FPPC (866-275-3772) and press 1.