As part of its voter-approved mandate, the City Ethics Commission regularly performs audits of the political committees of candidates for elective City office and their fundraising and expenditure activities. The Commission also audits the committees of candidates for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education. The Commission is required to audit all committees controlled by City candidates who either raise or spend at least $100,000 in connection with any primary or general election. The Commission is also required to audit committees of City candidates who receive public matching funds. Under state law, these compliance audits cannot begin until after the election is over and candidates’ required post-election campaign filings have occurred.
To make sure all mandatory audits can be completed in a timely manner, the Commission initiated its voluntary Fast-Track Audit program. Working with the cooperation and assistance of candidates and their campaign treasurers, Ethics Commission auditors work to complete a City Council or LAUSD campaign committee within 20 business days. A Citywide committee (for Mayor, City Attorney, or City Controller) is completed within 29 business days. Under this system, the Ethics Commission is generally able to complete audits of all committees within a year or so from the date that audits can first begin. For the 2009 City elections, the audit cycle began in August 2009. So far, 27 of approximately 50 committees have been audited in connection with the 2009 regular and special elections. Audits have been completed for the committees of the Mayor, the City Attorney, the Controller, and the City Council president. The remaining audits for the 2009 elections, which includes for the first time audits of candidate campaigns for the Los Angeles Unified School Board, are projected to be completed by Spring 2011.
Audits help the Commission to determine the degree of compliance with state and City campaign finance laws during City and LAUSD elections. They are routinely referred to the Commission’s Enforcement Division after they are completed to determine whether enforcement action is warranted. Importantly, the Commission’s audits help ensure that candidates have submitted reliable disclosure statements for the public by verifying the reported data and documenting instances in which committees did not comply with the laws. Audited committees are given the opportunity to address these material findings in their responses to a written audit report. Audits also help promote better recordkeeping practices by informing candidates and treasurers of areas for improvement. To view the finalized audit reports for the current audit cycle, please visit our website’s audit page.