Disqualification Rule under the California Political Reform Act
Under the California Political Reform Act, ALL employees (staff and faculty) must disqualify themselves from any University decision involving entities that may affect their personal financial interests. The following are deemed to be economic interests from which conflicts of interest can arise:
- Any business in which the employee or immediate family member is a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee, or holds any position of management;
- Any business in which an employee or immediate family member has an investment worth $2,000 or more;
- Any real property in which an employee or immediate family member has an interest worth $2,000 or more;
- Any source of income worth $500 or more, received or promised 12 months or less before the decision;
- Personal finances of the employee or immediate family member if these personal expenses, income, assets or liabilities are likely to go up or down by $250 or more in a 12-month period as a result of the University decision; or,
- The employee or immediate family member received or has been promised $500 or more in gifts 12 months or less before the decision is made from any person or organization that may benefit by the University decision.
Immediate family members include spouse, registered domestic partners, and dependent children.
Employees whose financial interests require them to disqualify themselves may not participate in any way in the decision, and may not influence any other person with respect to the decision.
- You make a decision (2 Cal. Code of Regs. §18704(a).) when, acting within the authority of your office, you:
- vote on a matter,
- appoint a person to a position,
- obligate or commit the University to any course of action,
- enter into any contractual agreement on behalf of the University
- Deciding not to do any of these things is also “making a decision”
- You participate in the making of a decision (2 Cal. Code of Regs. §18704(b).) when, acting within the authority of your University position, you:
- negotiate with a governmental entity or private person regarding the decision or
- advise, make recommendations
- OR use your employee status to influence the decision-maker or any other person with respect to this matter.
- You Influence a decision (2 Cal. Code of Regs. §18704(c).)
- Among other things, if an employee communicates with anyone within the University their thoughts on the matter for the purpose of swaying the decision maker
- using their position or authority to intimidate the decision maker,
- or otherwise makes suggestions towards an expected outcome .
Certain decisions made by those with teaching or research responsibilities are exempt from the General Disqualification Rule but only for teaching decisions and certain decisions related to pursuing and carrying out a course of academic study or research. Principal Investigators are subject to additional conflict of interest rules. For an explanation of those additional rules, please go to http://researchcoi.berkeley.edu/.
Penalties for Violations of the Political Reform Act:
- Administrative fines* to the individual of $5000 per violation
- publication of the filer’s name and fine amounts on the FPPC website (for designated officials)
- criminal prosecution (§ 91000)
- civil action (§ 91004 et seq.)
- disciplinary action (Gov’t Code § 91003.5)
The Political Reform Act’s Disqualification Rule is designed to be applied on a decision-by-decision basis. If you have questions, please contact Laila DeBerry, UC Berkeley’s Conflict of Interest Coordinator, at Conflicts@berkeley.edu or call 643-9317.
Details about other aspects of the California Political Reform Act and how it may affect you may be found at http://compliance.berkeley.edu/conflict-of-interest.