Public Ethics

Who we are and what we do

Business Goals

Lead/Collaborate – Facilitate City policy, management, and technological changes to create an ethical culture and build public trust in the City.


Educate/Engage – Provide education, advice, technical assistance, and formal legal opinions in consultation with the City Attorney’s office to ensure that all public servants, candidates for office, lobbyists, City contractors, and interested members of the public are aware of and understand the campaign finance, ethics, and transparency laws that apply to them.


Disclose/Illuminate – Ensure accurate, effective, and accessible disclosure of government integrity data such as campaign finance reporting, conflicts of interest/gifts reports, and lobbyist activities, all of which help the public and PEC staff monitor filings, view information, and detect inconsistencies or noncompliance.


Detect/Deter – Conduct investigations and audits to monitor compliance with the laws within the Commission’s jurisdiction.


Prosecute – Impose administrative penalties and fines for violations of the laws within the PEC’s jurisdiction.




Citizen Board with Independent Legal Authority

The Public Ethics Commission (PEC) is a seven-member board of Oakland residents who provide policy direction to Commission staff and serve as a quasi-judicial board that evaluates allegations of legal violations. The Commission was created by City Charter in 1996 (Section 202) and amended in November 2014 to strengthen the Commission’s independence and staffing (Section 603).

The PEC oversees compliance with the following laws and policies:

Oakland Government Ethics Act

Oakland Campaign Reform Act

Limited Public Financing Act

Sunshine Ordinance

Lobbyist Registration Act

Oakland's False Endorsement in Campaign Literature Act

ORGANIZATIONAL CHART

SERVICE INVENTORY

External Services

Ethics Education, Advice and Outreach - Community

Ensure that Oakland candidates for office, lobbyists, City contractors, and community members understand and comply with City campaign finance, ethics, and transparency laws.


Data Disclosure and Compliance

Collect state-required filings of local campaign data, assist filers, ensure citizen access, and develop and manage disclosure systems.


Limited Public Financing Program

Implement the City's system of providing public funds for candidates running for City Council district office.


Investigations

Conduct investigations of incoming complaints and PEC-initiated allegations of violations of ethics, campaign finance, and transparency laws.


Enforcement

Administrative prosecution of ethics and campaign finance violations resulting in Commission penalties.


Mediation Program

Assist members of the public in accessing public records through mediation as required by the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance.

Internal Services

Legal, Policy, and Leadership

Assess and recommend changes in City policies, laws, systems, and technology to improve ethics compliance, equity in campaign engagement, and innovation.


Ethics Education, Advice and Outreach - City Employees

Ensure that Oakland public servants understand and comply with City campaign finance, ethics, and transparency laws.