Join the Public Ethics Commission

Help shape accountable government! The Public Ethics Commission seeks community members with a passion for public service to help influence policy toward greater fairness, openness, honesty, and integrity.

How to Become a Commissioner

New Commissioner appointments occur every year and are generally announced in the Fall. To apply for a vacancy, attend an upcoming Commission meeting and submit an application using the link below.

Following the application deadline, a subcommittee of Commissioners will review applications and conduct oral interviews of applicants. The top candidates will be forwarded for an interview and selection by the full Commission at the Commission’s public meeting.

Apply online

Go to application

What We Do

Commissioners and staff at Art and Soul Festival, 2019.

The Public Ethics Commission (PEC) is an independent commission made up of Oakland residents dedicated to ensuring Oakland government is open, honest, fair, and trustworthy. The Commission acts as a guiding light and a watchdog to safeguard compliance with government ethics, campaign finance, lobbying, and transparency laws. The Commission:

  • Educates residents and City staff on ethics-related issues;
  • Conducts investigations, audits and public hearings;
  • Imposes fines and penalties as part of enforcement activities;
  • Provides policy direction to Commission staff.

Commissioner Requirements

A Commission member must be an Oakland resident and registered to vote in Oakland. Four Commissioners are appointed by the full Commission on a rotating schedule. Three Commissioners are appointed respectively by the Mayor, City Attorney, and City Auditor.

All applicants must attend a PEC meeting (observed in-person via Zoom) prior to their appointment.

Commissioners serve a three-year term and are expected to participate in monthly meetings and occasional subcommittee meetings to provide guidance to staff in the conduct of the Commission’s business, make final decisions on enforcement matters, and serve as a neutral judge in cases that require an administrative hearing. Commissioners typically volunteer five to ten hours per month. Commissioners receive no compensation and may serve no more than two consecutive three-year terms.

Desired Skills and Abilities

Commissioners should represent a variety of backgrounds and professions so that the Commission, as a whole, provides a well-rounded perspective on Oakland City government, law, community-building and engagement, leadership, program administration, enforcement, and policies related to campaign finance, ethics and transparency. Specifically, a Commissioner should be able to do the following:

  • Read, analyze, and understand written information and make decisions based on the information;
  • Listen to public input, assess community needs, and make decisions about how to best accomplish the Commission’s goals;
  • Understand the context in which the Commission operates within City government and the broader community;
  • Communicate orally during a public, televised meeting;
  • Collaborate effectively with other Commissioners, the public, City officials, and staff;
  • Interpret rules, laws and policies and objectively apply a rule to a particular set of facts;
  • Identify personal conflicts of interest or other factors that could lead to actual or perceived improper influence;
  • Serve with fairness, openness, honesty, and integrity;
  • Complete a Form 700 – Statement of Economic Interests annually, disclosing information such as one’s financial interests in investments, property, income, and gifts;
  • Adhere to all Commission-related laws and policies, including but not limited to the Oakland City Charter, Oakland Government Ethics Act, Oakland Sunshine Ordinance, Commission Complaint Procedures, and Commission Operations Policies (by-laws).

During their tenure a Commissioner may not:

  1. Have an employment or contractual relationship with the City during the member’s tenure and for one year after the date of separation;
  2. Be a registered Oakland lobbyist, be required to register as an Oakland lobbyist, or be employed by or receive gifts or other compensation from a registered Oakland lobbyist during the member’s tenure and for one year after the date of separation;
  3. Seek election to any other public office in a jurisdiction that intersects with the geographic boundaries of Oakland, or participate in or contribute to an Oakland municipal campaign;
  4. Endorse, support, oppose, or work on behalf of any candidate or measure in an Oakland election.

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