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Ethics complaint filed against City College trustee running for reelection

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Brigitte Davila, president of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, is flanked by supporters as she addresses plans to rename Phelan Avenue to Frida Kahlo Way on April 4. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

A City College board candidate stands accused of turning in her homework late — but unlike in college, filing key campaign documents after deadline may result not only in a failing grade, but possible fines.

Two ethics complaints filed Thursday allege that City College Board of Trustees President Brigitte Davila violated campaign finance laws by failing to disclose her financial interests and campaign budgets.

Four candidates are running for the City College of San Francisco board this November, including incumbents Davila, John Rizzo and Thea Selby and newcomer Victor Olivieri. Davila was elected to the board in 2014 and currently serves as its president. Davila is running for her final term.

One complaint, filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the San Francisco Ethics Commission, alleges Davila failed to file four separate Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) since being elected to the board — vital documents meant to reveal a candidate’s potential financial conflicts of interest. The other complaint cites Davila for repeatedly missing the filing deadline for her campaign disclosures, and failing to file one of these forms altogether.

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The Form 700 SEI public filings are required of city officers and designated employees to “help officials and employees monitor their financial interests, identify when those interests might conflict with their government actions, and take steps to avoid conflicts of interests,” according to the Ethics Commission’s website.

Both complaints were filed by Derek Jansen, the campaign manager for Olivieri, who has not previously served on the board.

In an email to the San Francisco Examiner, Jansen pointed out that Davila “is responsible for a $200+ million budget.” Olivieri said “City College has exhausted its available reserves and a massive deficit budget,” and is “still recovering” from an accreditation crisis that nearly shut the college down.

“Our students can’t afford another crisis caused by financial mismanagement of our public funds, which is why our elected officials should be held to the highest ethical standards,” said Olivieri.

Davila, a lecturer at San Francisco State University for more than two decades, previously cited “technical difficulties” when asked by the Examiner about her campaign contributions, which in September listed zero dollars.

On Thursday, Davila again said that she was locked out of her account and had spent “many hours at the ethics office.”

In terms of her reported income, she said that “nothing has changed in the last four years.”

“I have the same job, the same salary at my job, and my husband has the same job,” said Davila. “I’m not saying that’s why I shouldn’t [file the forms]. I couldn’t do it. But it doesn’t really have an impact in case someone is looking for a ‘smoking gun.’”

Davila referred questions about her account to her treasurer, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to her most recent filings reported to the Ethics Commission, Davila collected $6,618 in campaign contributions and spent a total of $4,635 toward her November election. She reported $2,197 in accrued expenses.

In regard to the Form 700 SEI, the complaint alleges that Davila submitted two annual filings late — the first is the 2015 SEI, submitted over two years late, and a recent form covering 2017, submitted two months past deadline. Additionally, Davila has not submitted the filing which is “required upon assuming office” nor has she submitted her 2016 filing, according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges two annual filings were submitted late: Davila’s filing covering 2015, submitted over two years past the deadline, and the 2017 filing, submitted some two months late.

A second complaint alleges that Davila repeatedly filed campaign finance statements late, and that one is missing all together, while running for office in 2014 and 2018.

Davila also filed a total of six financial contribution forms, known as Form 460’s, past the required deadlines, according to the complaint. Those late filings may leave her open to Ethics Commission fines.

Trustee President Brigitte Davila formed a committee for her 2018 campaign on June 18, 2018.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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