FPPC offers guidance on Behested Payment reporting in wake of COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            

March 25, 2020

 

For More Information Contact:

Jay Wierenga (916) 322-7761

.pdf version of news release      

As is typical in times of crisis, individuals and businesses in California are coming to the aide of those in need through donations of money and supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In many instances, elected officials are instrumental in raising donations for these purposes, whether for charitable or government organizations. In doing so, an elected official should be aware of and may be required to file a behested payment report.

The FPPC recognizes the current statewide shelter-in-place order, closure of government offices, and various other circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may make it difficult to file these reports on time. Still, we encourage elected officials to make best efforts to timely file behested payment reports. If circumstances caused by the pandemic inhibit an official’s ability to file reports, the official should communicate these issues to their agency and document all attempts to file and the issues faced.

“I’m encouraged and proud of how Californians are responding to the calls by our public health and elected officials to do their part in helping each other get through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich. “We don’t want to impose an unreasonable burden on those officials who are helping to raise money for food, supplies and other items. But we also recognize the necessity of transparency, and we’re confident these guidelines will serve to accomplish both goals.”

If an official makes best efforts to comply with the Political Reform Act’s behested payment reporting rules but is unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FPPC will consider this a strong mitigating factor in determining whether an enforcement action against the official is appropriate.  The FPPC is committed to promoting timely and effective disclosure to the public but also appreciates the larger public safety issues currently facing the state.

A donation made at the behest of an elected official that is equal to or exceeds $5,000 from the same source in a calendar year, must be reported by the official within 30 days of the donation. A donation is “made at the behest” of an elected official if it is made under the control or at the direction of, in cooperation, consultation, coordination, or concert with, at the request or suggestion of, or with prior consent of an elected official. The behested payment report must be filed with the official’s agency. There is no limit on the amount of charitable donations that can be made at the behest of an official.

To learn more about behested payments or to obtain a Behested Payment Report (Form 803), visit http://www.fppc.ca.gov/learn/public-officials-and-employees-rules-/behested-payment-report.html. Elected officials with questions regarding behested payment reporting should email the FPPC at advice@fppc.ca.gov.

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