The League Files Ethics Complaint Against David Chiu

Press Release:

Today, the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission asking them to investigate the potentially illegal collusive actions of David Chiu, Nicole Derse, 50+1 Strategies, and Airbnb.

The complaint alleges that Nicole Derse and 50+1 Strategies failed to register as lobbyists for Airbnb, and that they violated the prohibition on lobbying by campaign consultants.

The complaint also alleges that David Chiu continues to employ Derse and 50+1 Strategies as his campaign consultant despite knowing that they should have registered as lobbyists for Airbnb.

David Chiu’s ordinance regulating “short-term rentals” (AKA “home-sharing” services like Airbnb and VRBO) has been one of his major focuses this year. San Francisco Ethics Commission records show that Chiu has been lobbied by Airbnb 51 times.

David Chiu’s campaign consultant, Nicole Derse, is the co-founder of 50+1 Strategies, which was also hired by Airbnb to recruit users of Airbnb to lobby members of the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance friendly to Airbnb’s business practices. Neither Nicole Derse nor 50+1 Strategies is registered with the San Francisco Ethics Commission as a lobbyist despite this lobbying activity, in clear violation of Section 2.110 of San Francisco’s Campaign and Government Code.

Considering that 50+1 Strategies staff are in daily contact with David Chiu regarding his campaign for state assembly, which in recent months has strategized around the legalization of short-term rentals on Airbnb, it is indisputable that 50+1 Strategies staff have discussed Airbnb with Chiu. Doing so is a clear violation of Section 2.117 of San Francisco’s Campaign and Government Code, pertaining to ethical restrictions on campaign consultants.

The League of Pissed Off Voters calls for the Ethics Commission to expedite their investigation of this matter, publicize their results, and swiftly pursue criminal, civil, and administrative penalties against anyone found to have violated the law. The Ethics Commission encourages the reporting of suspected violations of State or City laws relating to campaign finance, lobbying, campaign consulting, conflicts of interest, or governmental ethics. This matter lies clearly within its jurisdiction.

 

Complaint Text:

David Chiu’s ordinance regulating “short-term rentals” (AKA “home-sharing” services like Airbnb and VRBO) has been one of his major focuses this year. San Francisco Ethics Commission records show that Chiu has been lobbied by Airbnb 51 times.

David Chiu’s campaign consultant, Nicole Derse, is the co-founder of 50+1 Strategies, which was also hired by Airbnb to recruit users of Airbnb to lobby members of the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance friendly to Airbnb’s business practices.

Considering that 50+1 Strategies staff are in daily contact with David Chiu regarding his campaign for state assembly, which in recent months has strategized around the legalization of short-term rentals on Airbnb, it is indisputable that 50+1 Strategies staff have discussed Airbnb with Chiu. Doing so is a clear violation of Section 2.117 of San Francisco’s Campaign and Government Code, pertaining to ethical restrictions on campaign consultants.

No campaign consultant, individual who has an ownership interest in the campaign consultant, or an employee of the campaign consultant shall communicate with any officer of the City and County who is a current or former client of the campaign consultant on behalf of another person or entity (other than the City and County) in exchange for economic consideration for the purpose of influencing local legislative or administrative action.

Neither Nicole Derse nor 50+1 Strategies is registered with the San Francisco Ethics Commission as a lobbyist despite this lobbying activity, in clear violation of Section 2.110 of San Francisco’s Campaign and Government Code.

Lobbyists shall register with the Ethics Commission and comply with the disclosure requirements imposed by this Chapter. Such registration shall occur no later than five business days of qualifying as a lobbyist, but the lobbyist shall register prior to making any additional contacts with an officer of the City and County of San Francisco.

David Chiu did not disclose his relationship with 50+1 Strategies or disclose that 50+1 Strategies was related to the legislation that he authored and brought before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This is a violation of Section 3.214.

A City officer or employee shall disclose on the public record any personal, professional or business relationship with any individual who is the subject of or has an ownership or financial interest in the subject of a governmental decision being made by the officer or employee where as a result of the relationship, the ability of the officer or employee to act for the benefit of the public could reasonably be questioned. For the purposes of this Section, the minutes of a public meeting at which the governmental decision is being made, or if the governmental decision is not being made in a public meeting, a memorandum kept on file at the offices of the City officer or employee’s department, board, commission or agency shall constitute the public record.

The League of Pissed Off Voters calls for the Ethics Commission to expedite their investigation of this matter, publicize their results, and swiftly pursue criminal, civil, and administrative penalties against anyone found to have violated the law. The Ethics Commission encourages the reporting of suspected violations of State or City laws relating to campaign finance, lobbying, campaign consulting, conflicts of interest, or governmental ethics. This matter lies clearly within its jurisdiction.

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