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The San Francisco Ethics Commission may rethink its decision last week to lift the spending limits in the San Francisco district attorney’s race. Commission Chairman Robert Planthold called a special meeting Friday to consider whether the spending limit was lifted in accordance with local law and to talk about whether the commission should re-impose it. The commission indicated in a written announcement Friday that the spending limit lift was prompted when one candidate, Kamala Harris, filed statements Thursday with the Ethics Commission saying she rejected the spending limit and that she had already raised and spent more than the $211,000 cap. That was a flip-flop from her position in January, when she filed a document with the Department of Elections that said she accepted the spending limits and understood her statement couldn’t be withdrawn later. The district attorney’s office says someone, whom it won’t identify, filed a form there Friday asking prosecutors to consider filing misdemeanor criminal charges against Harris for alleged violations of the campaign finance law. Spokesman Mark MacNamara said the matter was passed to the attorney general’s office because District Attorney Terence Hallinan’s re-election campaign creates a conflict of interest for his office. Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Tuesday afternoon he wasn’t aware whether a complaint about Harris had arrived at the AG’s office. The Harris campaign did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Spokesmen for Harris’ opponents, Hallinan and Bill Fazio, said no one from their camps filed a complaint with the DA. A lawyer for Harris told the Ethics Commission in a letter Friday that the campaign believed Harris’ January statement on the spending caps was nullified when the city’s campaign finance law was amended in July. The Harris camp says a staff person at the Ethics Commission called Harris’ campaign treasurer in July to inform him that the law addressing spending limits had changed and that the campaign needed to file a new form with the Ethics Commission, according to the letter from James Sutton, of San Francisco’s Sutton & Partners. “Based on this telephone call and the change in the law, the campaign believed that it was no longer bound by the earlier statement.” Before the July amendments, the law said candidates for elective office who want to adopt campaign-spending caps must file a statement indicating “acceptance” of the cap. Under the amendment, the law now says candidates must file a statement indicating whether they “accept or decline” the cap. Harris’ camp says it thought it only needed to file a new statement if it wanted to continue to accept the cap. The law also says those statements must be filed by the deadline for filing nomination papers, which was Aug. 8 for this year. While Harris filed hers Thursday, rejecting the cap, Hallinan filed his Aug. 8, accepting the cap, and Fazio declined it in a form filed Aug. 28. Both Hallinan and Fazio stuck to their previous positions. The Ethics Commission’s executive director, Ginny Vida, said the city’s charter prohibits her from confirming or denying whether a complaint has been filed with the commission. Those found in violation of the campaign finance law can face a combination of administrative, civil or criminal penalties, ranging from fines to being barred from running for city office for five years.

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