financial disclosure statements
All state and local public officials and all candidates for public office in California must file a Statement of Economic Interests, also known as a Form 700.
Public officials include all elected officials as well as top appointed officials of any state executive agency or local government agency, such as a city manager, county administrator, director of an agency, department heads, judges, and members of appointed commissions and boards that make policy decisions.
What's in the Forms
The forms filed by public officials detail:
- Real estate owned
- Business investments
- Sources of income
- Loans received
- The specific sources of income to a business in which the public official is a partner, if the public official’s share of the income from that source is at least $10,000 in a given year.
To clarify the last item about disclosure of sources of income to a business, here's an example:
If a public official is a 50-50 partner in a law firm with one other attorney, and the law firm has a client that pays the firm $20,000, then that client must be disclosed by the public official because the official's share of income from the client was $10,000.
If the client had paid the firm only $19,000, no disclosure would be required because the public official’s share is only $9,500 – less than the $10,000 threshhold required for disclosure.
Here's a sample of the form 700 page for reporting business investments and income:
Limitations on Disclosure
The forms do not list specific dollar figures for income or the value of investments. Instead only ranges are listed for income or investments, such as between $1,001 and $10,000, between $10,001 and $100,000, or more than $100,000.
There are also many exemptions on what has to be reported. Among the things that do not have to be reported:
- A public official's principal residence
- A loan from a commercial lender if it was "made in the lender’s regular course of business on terms available to members of the public"
- Mutual fund investments
- Income from or investments in a business that does not regularly operate in the jurisdiction of the public agency where the public official works
- The names of law clients if the disclosure would violate attorney-client privilege
- Small investments or income, such as income from a single source of less than $500 in a year or an investment worth less than $2,000
For more information on what must be disclosed, you can download a sample Form 700 and a Reference Pamphlet from the California Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700 web page. These have detailed instructions on what must be reported on the form.
When the Forms are Filed
The financial disclosure forms are filed annually, in March or April depending on the office.
New candidates for elected office also file the forms when they submit their candidacy papers to appear on the election ballot.
Where the Forms are Filed
Financial disclosure forms filed by local officials usually are kept by the clerk for the agency for which the official works, such as the city clerk or county clerk.
Copies of the filings by local elected officials, judges and top administrators at local agencies, in particular those who manage public investments, also are kept by the California Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento.
Members of the state Legislature and state-wide office holders, such as the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, etc., file their financial disclosure forms with the California Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento.
News Stories Using California Statements of Economic Interest
State PUC Member Invested in Phone Firm - San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21/2000
Alameda County college leader's business partner gets $900,000 contract - Contra Costa Times, 7/11/2009. Scroll down about two thirds of the way through the story to see the references to statements of economic interests.