With the approaching April 1st deadline for filing the annual Statement of Economic Interests, also known as "Form 700," required pursuant to the California Political Reform Act, public agencies should keep in mind that there are specific disclosure requirements for such filings under the Political Reform Act, which makes those filings available to the public almost immediately following filing.
The Political Reform Act requires several categories of public officials and public employees to file reports and statements, including Form 700. While Form 700 is a public record, it is subject to specific disclosure requirements which differ from the disclosure required under the California Public Records Act. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the state body charged with regulation and oversight of the Political Reform Act, the disclosure requirements applicable to filings such as the Form 700 trump the disclosure requirements under the Public Records Act.
Under the Political Reform Act, required filings, such as the Form 700, must be open for public inspection and reproduction during the regular business hours of the public agency, commencing as soon as practicable and no later than the second business day following the day the filing was received. (Gov. Code, § 81008.) The FPPC has determined that public agencies must produce the Form 700 upon request or as soon as possible during the agency's regular business hours, and that disclosure of the Form 700 is not subject to the ten day response window that is generally applicable under the Public Records Act.
Several other specific conditions apply to the disclosure and reproduction of filings under the Political Reform Act. A public agency may not place restrictions on a person desiring to inspect or reproduce filings, such as the Form 700, including any requirement that the requesting party identify themselves. Additionally, a public agency may charge a five dollar retrieval fee for requested copies of filings which are five or more years old, but a public agency may not charge more than ten cents per page for copying any requested filings. Public agencies should take caution not to exceed this amount by, for example, applying a higher cost per page amount that is ordinarily charged for reproduction of records under the Public Records Act. (See Gov. Code § 6253 (b).)
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