The City's Governmental Ethics Ordinance (GEO) helps ensure that City government is respected for its honesty and integrity; that fair and equal opportunities exist for all to participate in the governmental process; and that the public can trust the City's governmental and electoral institutions.
To accomplish these purposes, the GEO places requirements and restrictions on the conduct of City personnel, who are also subject to the state's Political Reform Act (PRA). Key provisions of the GEO are highlighted below, and more information can be found in our Ethics Handbook for City Officials.
City and state laws help to prevent conflicts of interests in governmental decision making through both disclosure and disqualification. Financial disclosure through statements of economic interests helps City officials identify potential conflicts between their personal financial interests and their City duties.
Under state law, City officials are required to disclose certain financial interests annually on the California Form 700. A conflict of interests code for each City agency designates which positions must file a Form 700 and which types of financial interests must be reported. Commonly reportable interests include investments in business entities (e.g., stocks, partnerships, etc.); real estate interests; sources of income, gifts, and loans; and business positions.
Certain high-level City officials are also required to disclose financial interests associated with persons who have business before the City (i.e., restricted sources). These interests must be disclosed through the City's Form 60, and filings are required on the same schedule as the Form 700.
Members of City boards and commissions are required to file a recusal notification form (Form 51) each time they recuse themselves from acting on a City matter because of an actual or apparent conflict of interests. Recusals are tracked and reported on a quarterly basis.
When a board or commission member submits three or more recusal forms in a 365-day period, the Ethics Commission is required to review the recusals and determine whether the member has a significant and continuing conflict of interests. If the Ethics Commission determines that there is a significant and continuing conflict, it must order divestment of the interest that causes the conflict.
Gifts and Travel
The GEO and the PRA regulate the solicitation and receipt of gifts, including gifts of travel, by City officials. Depending on the source of a gift, it may be limited or prohibited. The restrictions may also apply to gifts received by a member of the City official's family.
Gifts from a single source that are cumulatively valued at $50 or more per calendar year must be disclosed on the City official's Form 700. To assist City officials in complying with the gift laws, the Ethics Commission has created a gift journal for tracking gifts.
More information regarding gifts can be found here.
Gifts to an Agency
In limited circumstances, an item that provides a benefit to a City official may not be limited or reportable, because state law considers it a gift to the official's agency. Generally, this applies to items received by the agency when the agency determines who receives or uses them.
Specific criteria must be met for an item to qualify as a gift to an agency, and the City has procedures that must be followed, which may include a requirement that the City Council formally accept the item. If an item qualifies as a gift to an agency, it must be disclosed on the California Form 801. Forms that are filed with the Ethics Commission may be viewed here.
In accordance with the state’s Political Reform Act, the Ethics Commission adopted and the City Council approved a City-wide policy governing the distribution and disclosure of tickets and passes acquired by City agencies. The policy applies to all City agencies and supersedes any agency-specific policy that was previously observed.
All tickets and passes that an agency distributes must be processed and disclosed in accordance with the Ticket Distribution and Disclosure Policy (Los Angeles Administrative Code §§ 24.51–24.55). When the policy is followed, a ticket or pass accepted or distributed by a City official is not considered a gift to that official. Each agency has a ticket administrator, who is responsible for distributing the agency's tickets and disclosing distributed tickets on the state’s Form 802.
We created an FAQ that provides additional information. If you have questions, please contact us so that we can help you and your agency comply with the law.
Forms that are filed with the Ethics Commission may be viewed here.
Misuse of Position or Resources
The GEO prohibits an individual from misusing a City position or a prospective City position to create a private advantage or disadvantage for any person. City personnel are prohibited from using or threatening to use their City positions to interfere with another person's attempt to report possible violations of law, and they are prohibited from retaliating against a person who does report a possible violation of the law. In addition, both current and former City personnel are prohibited from disclosing confidential information acquired as a result of their City service.
The political activities of City personnel are limited to ensure that the City remains neutral in elections, to protect City personnel from pressure to support or oppose a ballot issue, and to protect City resources. The specific provisions of the GEO are identified in the political activity brochure.
Outside Employment and Honoraria
The GEO promotes accountability and reduces the potential for conflicts of interests by requiring full-time City officials to receive approval before accepting outside (non-City) employment. Approval must be received by the official's department head or appointing authority, even if the employment is unrelated to the official's City duties. Approval from the Ethics Commission is also required if the source of the outside income is a restricted source for the official.
An honorarium is something of value provided in appreciation for giving a speech, writing an article, participating in a panel, or engaging in similar activity. City officials may not accept an honorarium from a source that must be disclosed on the official's statement of economic interest.
A statement of City-related business (Form 44) identifies business that certain City officials have pending before the City. This disclosure requirement helps ensure transparency in the City's decision-making processes. The requirement applies to all candidates for elected City office, elected City officials, City board and commission members, and heads of City agencies.
After City Service
To prevent former City officials from exercising or appearing to exercise improper influence over City decisions, the GEO places two types of "revolving door" restrictions on their attempts to influence the City after leaving City office. The first restriction applies to any City decision in certain agencies and lasts for one year after the City official leaves City service. The second restriction applies to specific City matters the City official personally participated in and lasts for as long as the City has an interest in the matter. A revolving door brochure provides additional information.
To promote understanding of and compliance with the governmental ethics laws, the GEO requires City officials to complete regular ethics training.