City of San Antonio, Texas

 

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 101

October 5, 2005

Issued By: City Attorney’s Office

 

 

I.  Issue:         Must political contributions to City Councilmembers from a political action committee of an entity seeking a discretionary city contract must be disclosed on the discretionary contracts disclosure form. 

 

 

II.  Inquiry

 

A business entity which intends to submit a response to a request for proposal (RFP) formed a political action committee (PAC) which has made contributions to members of City Council.   Stockholders in the entity have contributed to this PAC.  Section 2-59 of the City’s Ethics Code requires any individual or entity that contracts with the city to submit a discretionary contracts disclosure form.  The form requires the contractor to list political contributions made to members of City Council or candidates. The city department who is receiving the RFP’s has asked:

 

1)  Since the contributions were not made directly from the stockholders to the candidates do they need to be listed on the discretionary contracts disclosure form?

2)  If so, on the question “by whom made,” should the firm list the political committee or the individual contributors?

 

 

III. The Ethics Code

 

Division 4 of the City of San Antonio Ethics Code imposes certain requirements upon persons or entities seeking to do business with the city.   Section 2-59 specifically requires that an individual or business entity seeking a discretionary contract with the city must submit a “discretionary contract disclosure form” listing:

 

  • the identity of the individual or business entity that would be the party to the contract;
  • subcontractors;
  • partners, parent or subsidiary business entities of any party to the contract; and
  • any lobbyists or public relations firms employed for the purpose of assisting the individual or entity seeking the contract.

 

The individual or business entity is also required to report political contributions.  Section 2-59(b) states:

 

Any individual or business entity seeking a discretionary contract from the city must disclose in connection with a proposal for a discretionary contract, on a form provided by the city, all political contributions totaling one hundred dollars ($100) or more within the past twenty-four (24) months made directly or indirectly to any current or former member of City Council, any candidate for City Council, or to any political action committee that contributes to City Council elections, by any individual or business entity whose identity must be disclosed [on the form]. 

 

Indirect contributions by an individual include, but are not limited to, contributions made by an individual’s spouse, whether statutory or common-law.  Indirect contributions by an entity include, but are not limited to, contributions made by the officers, owners, or registered lobbyists of the entity.

 

Contributions made by the PAC are direct contributions; contributions made by the stockholders to the PAC, which are contributed to councilmembers or candidates, are indirect contributions.

 

In accordance with Section 2-59(b), the RFP respondent should:

 

1)  List the PAC and its contributions that have totaled $100 or more to any current or former member of City Council, or any candidates to City Council given in the preceding twenty-four months, including the amounts and dates of the contributions; and

2)  List the stockholders whose contributions have totaled $100 or more to the PAC and the amount or percentage of their contributions to the PAC that were contributed to current or former members of the City Council, or candidates in the preceding twenty-four months.

 

For the stockholders list, the firm should list the stockholders in the “By Whom” column, list the PAC in the “To Whom” column, the amount of the contribution to the PAC in the “Amount” column and the date of the contribution to the PAC in the “Date” column.    If only a percentage of the contributions to the PAC were provided to councilmembers or candidates, the firm may make a notation of that in the “Amount” column for the list pertaining to stockholders contributions.

 

 

IV.  Conclusion

 

Political contributions to City Councilmembers from a political action committee of an entity seeking a discretionary city contract must be disclosed on the discretionary contracts disclosure form.