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Onions and onions

Stacey Fulhorst of the city’s Ethics Commission says politicos can admit their mistakes but fear being labeled “unethical.”
Stacey Fulhorst of the city’s Ethics Commission says politicos can admit their mistakes but fear being labeled “unethical.”

Would a crooked politico smell just as bad under a new name for San Diego’s ethics commission? That was the question discussed at last month’s meeting of the body tasked with meting out justice for the city’s political miscreants. Commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst told members that some politicians have an issue. “Although they are willing to admit their mistakes, they are reluctant to pay an Ethics Commission fine for fear of being labeled ‘unethical,’” Fulhorst explained.

Commissioner Paul Kreit, a professor at Thomas Jefferson law school and controlled-substance expert, took the defendants’ side. “When the term ‘ethics violation’ is used for all enforcement actions, he believes it detracts from the more serious violations,” according to the meeting’s minutes. “He stated that a name change could help distinguish between different types of violations, and he suggested Ethics and Political Practices as a possible alternative.” Another commissioner, self-employed “public policy consultant” Andrew Poat, agreed, saying “he is in favor of exploring alternatives because the Commission regulates certain processes and failing to abide by some of these processes does not necessarily indicate unethical behavior.”

A onetime vice president with the San Diego Economic Development Corporation, Poat made $9490 in political contributions from 2007 through 2013, city disclosure records show, including to the mayoral campaigns of Bob Filner, Carl DeMaio, and Nathan Fletcher. Greg Zinser, a retired medical billing maven, said he, too, wanted to reduce the onus on the put-upon pols, suggesting that “the name Governmental Ethics and Policy Compliance would be appropriate because some issues within the Commission’s purview are ethics-related but the majority fall under policy compliance.”

Of late, the commission has been handing down few enforcement actions, period. The most recent stipulations posted online involved four November 2014 money-laundering cases spun off by the federal investigation into José Susumo Azano Matsura, the Mexican national accused of illegally funding campaign efforts on behalf of ex-Democratic mayor Bob Filner and Republican district attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Escondido towing company owner Amir Iravani agreed to pay $20,000 for using employees to launder campaign cash. Three associates of Ernesto Encinas, an ex–San Diego cop who has copped a plea for his role in the scheme, agreed to come up with $5000 each for similar violations.

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Stacey Fulhorst of the city’s Ethics Commission says politicos can admit their mistakes but fear being labeled “unethical.”
Stacey Fulhorst of the city’s Ethics Commission says politicos can admit their mistakes but fear being labeled “unethical.”

Would a crooked politico smell just as bad under a new name for San Diego’s ethics commission? That was the question discussed at last month’s meeting of the body tasked with meting out justice for the city’s political miscreants. Commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst told members that some politicians have an issue. “Although they are willing to admit their mistakes, they are reluctant to pay an Ethics Commission fine for fear of being labeled ‘unethical,’” Fulhorst explained.

Commissioner Paul Kreit, a professor at Thomas Jefferson law school and controlled-substance expert, took the defendants’ side. “When the term ‘ethics violation’ is used for all enforcement actions, he believes it detracts from the more serious violations,” according to the meeting’s minutes. “He stated that a name change could help distinguish between different types of violations, and he suggested Ethics and Political Practices as a possible alternative.” Another commissioner, self-employed “public policy consultant” Andrew Poat, agreed, saying “he is in favor of exploring alternatives because the Commission regulates certain processes and failing to abide by some of these processes does not necessarily indicate unethical behavior.”

A onetime vice president with the San Diego Economic Development Corporation, Poat made $9490 in political contributions from 2007 through 2013, city disclosure records show, including to the mayoral campaigns of Bob Filner, Carl DeMaio, and Nathan Fletcher. Greg Zinser, a retired medical billing maven, said he, too, wanted to reduce the onus on the put-upon pols, suggesting that “the name Governmental Ethics and Policy Compliance would be appropriate because some issues within the Commission’s purview are ethics-related but the majority fall under policy compliance.”

Of late, the commission has been handing down few enforcement actions, period. The most recent stipulations posted online involved four November 2014 money-laundering cases spun off by the federal investigation into José Susumo Azano Matsura, the Mexican national accused of illegally funding campaign efforts on behalf of ex-Democratic mayor Bob Filner and Republican district attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Escondido towing company owner Amir Iravani agreed to pay $20,000 for using employees to launder campaign cash. Three associates of Ernesto Encinas, an ex–San Diego cop who has copped a plea for his role in the scheme, agreed to come up with $5000 each for similar violations.

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Since we prize civility and positive thinking in America's Finest City, why not have an Ethics Commission do what junior high school teachers everywhere are taught to do: catch politicians and their funders being good? That way Stacey Fulhorst wouldn't have to change the name of her shell of a watchdog agency into something even more meaningless AND she would reduce her workload, not that it's exactly heavy these days anyway.

March 26, 2015

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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