How to File a Complaint
Anyone who suspects a violation of the Act should file a sworn complaint with the Enforcement Division.
File a Complaint
The information below will assist you in filing a complaint with the Enforcement Division of the FPPC if you suspect a violation of the Political Reform Act (the Act). A sworn complaint entitles you to certain rights and processes, including notification of whether the matter will be investigated and the ultimate resolution.
The FPPC may only enforce violations of the Act. Violations that do not fall under the Act may be pursued by a local district attorney, the state attorney general or other enforcement agencies.
- Financial conflicts of interest
- Campaign money laundering
- Over-the-limit gifts and contributions
- Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use
- Campaign mass mailings at public expense
- False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests, campaign statements and reports
- Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports
- Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more
Violations do not include:
- False or misleading campaign materials
- Election fraud
- Misuse of public funds unrelated to campaign mass mailings
- Violations of the Elections Code, Penal Code or any laws other than the Political Reform Act
- Issues related to federal campaigns
- Open meeting law issues (Brown Act, Bagley-Keene)
- Local ordinances
- Vandalism of campaign signs
- Residency requirements for running for or holding office
Electronic Complaint System
Once you have submitted your complaint (or referral), you can check the status by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and including your Confirmation Number.
Sworn Complaint Requirements
A sworn complaint must comply with certain requirements. All of the pertinent information must be included. At a minimum, you must do all of the following:
1. Submit your complaint in writing.
2. Identify the person(s) who allegedly violated the Act, list the specific provisions you believe the person(s) violated, and the dates on which the violation occurred.
3. Describe with particularity the facts constituting the alleged violation and provide any
evidence to support the complaint.
4. State how you have personal knowledge of the violation.
5. Include names and addresses of witnesses, if known.
6. Check the box indicating that you are filing.
If you have any questions regarding the information required on the Complaint Form, please submit your questions electronically to email@example.com. A political reform consultant will respond as quickly as possible.
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 keep your identity as the complainant confidential, you have two options:
1. You may make the complaint anonymously. Check "Anonymous Complaint." The Enforcement Division will evaluate your claim and has the authority to pursue a complaint on its own initiative. Please note: An anonymous complainant is not entitled to any notification of whether the matter will be investigated or the ultimate resolution.
2. 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 submit an electronic request to discuss the matter with an attorney in the Enforcement Division at firstname.lastname@example.org. An attorney will contact you to assess your status and advise you of the possibility of withholding disclosure of your identity. However, if the confidentiality is challenged, a court ultimately could determine that the complaint must be made public.
Within 14 days of receiving your sworn complaint, the Enforcement Division will inform you how it intends to proceed. Please 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.
A sworn complaint found to have merit will be assigned to staff in the Enforcement Division for a full investigation. The division may obtain additional documents, issue subpoenas, and interview witnesses, including the person alleged to have violated the Act.
Once the Enforcement Division has fully investigated a complaint, the case may be resolved in several ways. If there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, the division may close the case with a letter finding no action or an advisory letter. If the seriousness of the offense and public harm are low, a warning letter may be issued identifying a violation of the Act but concluding a monetary fine is not warranted.
If the case merits an administrative penalty, the Enforcement Division may ask the Commissioners to approve a settlement agreement in which the subject of the investigation agrees to pay a fine or to take other remedial action. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will be subject to a more formal administrative proceeding, including a probable cause conference and a hearing before an administrative law judge. In some cases, the FPPC may decide to prosecute a case by a filing a civil lawsuit in court.