City law requires the Ethics Commission to evaluate compliance through audits. In the course of an audit, the staff must assess disclosure statements and other relevant documents that indicate the degree of compliance with the governmental ethics, campaign finance, or lobbying laws and policies.
Anyone who has a filing obligation with the Ethics Commission may be subject to an audit.
Audits of campaign committees are routinely conducted following the conclusion of an election cycle. By law, all committees controlled by a candidate who receives public matching funds or a candidate who raises or spends at least $100,000 in an election must be audited. Audits were required for 87 committees in 2013, for 47 committees in 2015, and for 50 committees in 2017. Audit reports may be searched and viewed through the Public Data Portal.
During the course of an audit, auditors determine the degree of compliance with applicable laws. Auditors keep candidates and their treasurers apprised of potential findings and give them an opportunity to respond to a draft audit report. Any committee responses are incorporated into the final audit report.
Final audit reports can be accessed through our Public Data Portal. Each report is forwarded to the Ethics Commission’s enforcement staff and may be referred to other appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The Ethics Commission has adopted policies to aid the audit process. The Audit Policy permits qualified candidates with up to 10 audit findings in an election cycle to resolve those findings by paying a fee at the audit stage and not having to enter into an enforcement process. The Excess Contribution Policy permits candidates to cure improper contributions within specific timeframes and requires audit reports to identify cured contributions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long does an audit take?
It depends on the dollar value of the committee’s activities. Under the Audit Policy, an audit of a campaign committee that raised or spent $500,000 or less will generally be completed within 45 calendar days. An audit of a campaign committee that raised or spent more than $500,000 will generally be completed within 60 calendar days.
I am going to be audited. How do I provide my documents to the Ethics Commission?
For campaign committees that would like to be eligible to resolve any findings under the Audit Policy, all documents must be provided in an electronic format prescribed by the Ethics Commission. Campaign committees that provide paper copies of their documents may not be eligible for an early resolution of audit findings.
I think a campaign committee may have violated the law. If I contact your office, will you begin an audit immediately?
No. State law prevents campaign audits from beginning prior to the deadline for filing the first post-election campaign disclosure statement. However, you may contact the Ethics Commission and alert the staff to a possible violation at any time. The staff works with committees throughout an election cycle and the audit process to help prevent or correct violations.
Do you audit all candidates who run for City or LAUSD office?
No. The Ethics Commission is required to audit all committees controlled by City and LAUSD candidates who receive public matching funds or raise or spend at least $100,000 in an election. Committees controlled by other City and LAUSD candidates may also be audited on a random basis.
PUBLIC DATA PORTAL