ETHICS HEARING BOARD

Ethics Disclosures

Under law, the people have a right to be assured that the financial interests of those who hold or seek public office do not conflict with the public trust.

 

What is the SOFI disclosure?

The Statement of Financial Interests (“SOFI”) is a conflicts disclosure.

The SOFI disclosure requests information on a limited scope of potential conflicts: “businesses” you’re associated with, transactions involving government real estate, sources of credit, income, and gifts. This form is a limited tool because conflicts can occur many ways, such as benefitting family members, or the “businesses” with which they are associated.

 

Who needs to file?

Ask for advice to confirm or for help filing

The law provides those who need to file this conflicts disclosure include

  • “Public employees”
  • Appointed and elected “public officials”
  • Nominees for appointed office (board, authority, and commission members and traditional bureau and departmental appointments)
  • Candidates for elected office
  • Solicitors

To find out if the position you hold or may be nominated to is legally defined as a “public employee,” or “public official,” please request ethics advice.  

 

FAQs

  • “Public employees” required to file can take or recommend official action that involves:
    • Contracting or procurement
    • Administering or monitoring grants or subsidies
    • Planning or zoning;
    • Inspecting, investigating, licensing, regulating or auditing any “person”
    • Any other action that creates an economic impact on the interest of any person/entity (To find out if your position is legally defined as a “public employee,” or “public official,” please request ethics advice.)
  • Those who do NOT need to file generally include:
    • Note - this is general information; if these positions can make economic impacts such as vendor selection or influence hiring, promotion, or scheduling decisions, then they are public employees who need to file. 
    • Police officers 
      • Police Officers generally do not need to file.
      • However, officers do need to file if their primary assignment relates to civil code enforcement as opposed to patrol duty or criminal enforcement.
    • Clerical staff who are purely internal-facing, and do not work with vendors, monitoring funds, or budget recommendations.
    • Road masters 
    • Maintenance workers
    • Construction workers
    • Equipment operators  
    • Law Clerks
    • Computer Help Desk 
    • Animal Control
    • Cashiers
    • Lifeguards
  • Those who DO need to file generally include:
    • Attorneys
    • Engineers
    • Supervisors
    • Assistants in fiscal affairs
    • Purchasing agents
    • Grant and contract managers
    • Administrative officers
    • Building inspectors
    • Investigators
    • Auditors
    • Those who interact with vendors or give feedback about how public funds are spent
    • Zoning
    • Planning
    • Permits and Licenses
    • Contracts, grants, or procurement
    • Job duties that can financially impact the community or businesses
    • Job duties that involve public funds
  • The filing deadline for public officials and public employees is May 1.
    • It is much better to file late than not at all.
    • Please do not lie to the ethics staff by backdating – this is a serious additional penalty.
  • Nominees (for Board, Authority, Commission members, and for other bureau and departmental appointments) and candidates (for elected office) are subject to different filing deadlines.
    • Nominees must file at least 10 days before the official or body approves or rejects the nomination.
    • Candidates should contact the State Ethics Commission for further information. 
  • New Hires/Appointments:
    • Anyone who meets the definition of a public employee or public official and whose service began or before May 1, 2024, must file this year, even if they did not work for the City last year.
  • File Each Year
    • Public employees and public officials must file annually, for every year of service.
  • Multiple Filings?
    • You can file for missed prior years by changing the year in block 7. You cannot file early. Timely filing is between January 1 and May 1. The form changes each year!
    • Nominees who timely filed 10 days before their vote of appointment do not need to file again in the same year, after they have been sworn in.
  • Post-Employment:
    • Former public officials and public employees must file the year their service ends as well as the year after service ends. 
  • Finding the form:
    • Online Filing. Filers are encouraged to use the State’s website. Find the web form, and detailed instructions on how to complete the form, at this link: Online Filing. Complete the form online and, once you’ve finished, an option to include your email address will appear at the end. Entering your email is important to complete the local filing requirement as detailed below. You will receive an automated email with a copy of your filing attached to the email address you provide.
    • For those filers who would like to file the paper form, you may print a copy at this link: Statement Of Financial Interests REV 01_24.pdf. Instructions on how to complete the form are included throughout the four-page document, primarily on page two. Add an additional page if your information does not fit on the space provided in the form. See below for where to file.
  • Local Filing Instructions for City of Pittsburgh officials and employees:
    • For online filing: Forward the automated email from the State with the attached pdf of your completed form to sofi@pittsburghpa.gov in order to satisfy local filing requirements. Once processed, the City Clerk staff will reply to your email to confirm receipt.
    • For paper filing: Please file with the City Clerk during their open office hours, you may wish to call ahead to ensure the staff aren’t busy attending to a Council meeting. The Office of the City Clerk is located on the 5th floor on the Grant-Street side of the City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Pittsburgh PA  15219. At the time of filing in person, the City Clerk staff will make a copy and provide you with a receipt.
  • Local Filing instructions for Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) officials and employees:
    • Complete an online form or a paper copy to be filed at the URA's offices. Please submit the completed form to the URA's Legal Department either by email at legalnotices@ura.org or by mail at 412 Boulevard of the Allies, Suite 901, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, to the attention of the Legal Department.
  • Local Filing instructions for Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) officials and employees:
    • Complete the state online form to be filed with the PWSA. Please submit the completed form to PWSA’s Chief Environmental Compliance and Ethics Officer by email to fsidari@pgh2o.com.
  • Caution:
    • The SOFI is a public record for 5 years.
    • It is highly recommended that you request ethics advice to complete the form with Ethics staff at least once to review the defined terms within the form and to review any questions you may have. If our staff is unavailable, you can also contact the State Ethics Commission for help.
    • Note that filed SOFIs can only be amended through additional filings, the original filing cannot be redacted or modified after filing.
    • Back dating the form is a violation of law and could result in the initiation of civil, administrative and/or criminal penalties.
  • Common Errors:
    • Remember to list your work address and phone rather than personal.
    • List 2023 in block 7.
    • Regarding creditors, the balance of your debt last year needs to be $6,500 or more. You don’t need to list a bank or credit card unless they held a debt for you of over $6,500 carried over from one month to the next. Note, do not list mortgages or equity loans on your home. You also don’t need to list loans between you and a spouse, parent, child, or sibling. On the other hand, loans you co-sign for family with a third party do need to be listed. Student debt and car loans are commonly listed.  Do not list the amount of the loan, merely the source and interest rate.
    • Regarding income, in block 10, list all sources of income over $1,300, including City of Pittsburgh salary, if applicable. You do not list income, only the source of the income.
    • In Block 13, a “business” includes any form of association or organization, including non-profits.
    • You must check the “None” box if a section is unapplicable.

 

Types of Required Disclosures:

 

Required Disclosures by Party: