Requesting Advice from the FPPC
The FPPC provides three methods for obtaining advice regarding the Political Reform Act's (PRA) rules and requirements. Advice is provided to those persons regulated by the PRA and to the general public. Procedures for informal and formal advice differ as described below.
FPPC staff will be happy to answer your Form 700 questions. Be sure you have your disclosure category. See your supervisor, or staff in your agency's personnel or legal department for a copy. Each state & local agency develops unique categories as part of a conflict-of-interest code. It often limits the type of information you report. The Form 700 is used by all state and local officials so it is impractical to include the thousands of codes with the form.
Assistance by E-Mail (Informal Advice)
Email communications are public documents and may be provided to others under the California Public Records Act.
Email advice is best suited for straightforward questions such as...When does a local ballot measure committee file its Form 410?; After assuming my new position as mayor how many days do I have to file the Form 700?
Email advice is not the forum for complex conflict-of-interest questions, questions that include incomplete or complicated facts, or questions that require substantial legal analysis.
- Identify yourself, contact phone and position
- List the agency that is related to your question
- Write your question with as much specificity as possible
- If you have a question on a Form 700 disclosure include your disclosure category.
- For Gift and Travel Questions we need the following Information:
- Identify source of gift or travel and whether the source is a governmental agency or a 501(c)(3) organization.
- If the source of the gift or travel is reimbursed, provide details on who is making the reimbursement.
- Date(s) gift received or date(s) of travel.
- Describe gift (i.e. meal, sports or entertainment event tickets) or travel (i.e. airfare, other transportation, meals, lodging)
- Include facts on whether the public official is making a speech or performing a ceremonial role.
- Describe how the travel is reasonably related to a legislative or governmental purpose, or to an issue of state, national, or international public policy.
Please Note: Third party, hypothetical questions and enforcement related matters are not addressed
Send your Email Question Here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Certain questions may take 2-3 days for a response.
Assistance by Telephone (Informal Advice)
Toll-Free: 1-866-ASK-FPPC (1-866-275-3772) or 1-916-322-5660
Telephone advice is available Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Call 1.866.275.3772 or 1.916.322.5660 and press 2 to speak to a political reform consultant in the Technical Assistance Division.
For Enforcement matters click here
Assistance by Mail (Formal Advice)
Fair Political Practices Commission
428 J Street, Suite 620
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone and Email Advice:
This advice is considered informal assistance and conservative responses are provided. In most instances, email advice will link you to the appropriate reference material posted on the FPPC website.
Both Telephone and Email Advice provide guidance based on facts provided through the inquiry. Advice does not provide immunity under Government Code Section 83114 and does not constitute legal advice or alter any legal right or liability. Political Reform Consultants will respond to your request for guidance but the response is not a rule, regulation or statement binding or a final decision of the FPPC. Advice is only applicable to the specific person submitting the question and to the specific question asked.
- Answers to questions on past conduct or hypothetical situations are not provided.
- Advice regarding a person's duty is only provided to that person or their authorized representative.
- The FPPC does not provide guidance on laws other than the Political Reform Act (e.g. the Elections Code, the Brown Act, Federal or local laws.).
- The FPPC does not confirm in writing telephone advice.
- To report a violation of the Act, contact the Enforcement Division, click here.
- All calls and emails from reporters will be routed to the FPPC's press staff.
- Campaign Questions: Different committees have different filing deadlines and reporting obligations. Identify if the committee is city, county or state and the type of committee, candidate, ballot measure etc.. A committee ID number is helpful.
- Form 700 Disclosure: Identify your position and agency and disclosure category, if any. The Disclosure category is in the agency's conflict-of-interest code, see your supervisor for assistance. The FPPC has information for state agencies and certain multi-county agencies but does not have the disclosure categories for most local officials.
Questions Must Include:
- If a public official or representative thereof: the official's name, title and agency and, if a representative, your name and the capacity in which you represent the official (e.g., "city attorney"; "county counsel")
- If a candidate or committee, or representative thereof: the candidate's or committee's name, and, if a representative, your name and the capacity in which you represent the candidate or committee (e.g., "attorney for the candidate/committee"; "committee officer"; "committee campaign consultant")
- If any other individual or organization with obligations under the Political Reform Act, or representative thereof: the individual's or organization's name, the capacity in which they are regulated under the Act (e.g., "lobbyist"; "major donor"; "campaign contributor") and, if a representative, your name and the capacity in which you represent the individual or organization (e.g., "attorney for the organization"; "employee of lobbyist employer")
Under Government Code Section 83114(b) and Commission regulations, any individual or entity (or their authorized representative) may request formal written advice from the Commission staff concerning their duties under the Political Reform Act. The request must be in writing, provide specified information about the requestor, and contain sufficient information on which the Commission staff can do a complete legal analysis. If the request meets these criteria, the Commission must provide the formal written advice within 21 working days.
Formal written advice provides the requestor with immunity from prosecution by the Commission, and provides evidence of good faith conduct in any relevant civil or criminal proceeding brought by another person, so long as the facts presented by the requestor are accurate and the requestor acts within the confines of the formal advice provided. Formal written advice does not provide immunity to persons other than the requestor, although it may be used as guidance for questions based on similar facts.
The Commission may provide an informal written reply with general guidance in response to written requests for advice that do not meet the criteria for formal written advice. Since formal and informal written advice is provided by Commission staff, neither constitutes a formal opinion by the Commission under Government Code Section 83114(a) or a statement of Commission policy. More details about the written advice process can be found in Section 18329 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations.
Under Government Code Section 83114(a) and Commission regulations, any individual or entity (or their authorized representative) may request a formal opinion from the Commission concerning their duties under the Political Reform Act. The Commission's Executive Director must accept or reject a request for a formal opinion within 14 days. A request will normally be rejected if the question can be answered under existing statutes or regulations or does not otherwise present a significant policy issue.
In addition, since the process requires formal action by the Commission, if the request is accepted, it normally takes several months after the question is submitted before a formal opinion may issue from the Commission. A formal opinion issued by the Commission provides the requestor with immunity from civil or criminal prosecution under the Political Reform Act so long as the facts presented by the requestor are accurate and the requestor acts within the confines of the opinion. More details about the formal opinion process can be found in Sections 18320 through 18326 of Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations.(Revised 3-2011)