Quantcast
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

San Diego ethics commission rejects call to recuse itself

City attorney candidate battles over group's alleged conflict of interest

Gil Cabrera and Stacey Fulhorst
Gil Cabrera and Stacey Fulhorst

How close is too close? was the question raised this week by a San Diego city attorney–hopeful pitted against a former member of and sometimes counsel to the city's ethics commission.

"You are well aware that Mr. Gil Cabrera is a candidate for City Attorney and that he served on the Board of the Commission for an extended period of time and that he also served as a past Chairman," wrote Rafael Castellanos to ethics commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst on October 1.

Rafael Castellanos

"In addition, Mr. Cabrera has been retained by the Commission as an outside consultant from time to time. Many of the staff members who worked under Mr. Cabrera are still with the Commission."

Continued Castellanos, "In order to eliminate even the possibility of unfairness and bias in the workings of the Commission it is imperative to remove the Commission from any oversight of the City Attorney’s campaign."

To cure the alleged conflict, Castellanos urged that the commission recuse itself from policing the city attorney campaign beat and turn over all investigations and enforcement actions regarding the race to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

"All campaigns would still be subject to the same reporting and campaign finance laws. However, the enforcement of those laws would be administered by another agency that is not subject to any conflict of interest or bias, whether actual, potential, or inadvertent."

Fred Maas
Caitlin Rother
Carl DeMaio

In March 2013, Fulhorst threw a cloak of secrecy over Cabrera's work for the commission regarding the sensational political case of developer Fred Maas and his payment of $33,000 to a project employing local author and former U-T reporter Caitlin Rother to come up with dirt on 2012 mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio. The negative information was subsequently shopped to local media.

As first reported by U-T San Diego on March 24, 2013, Maas's effort was aided by Gerry Braun, a top aide to then-mayor Jerry Sanders and others linked to the mayoral campaign of Nathan Fletcher, the ex-GOP assemblyman who turned independent and later became a Democrat.

Cabrera was retained by the ethics commission as "outside counsel" to investigate the case, which was abruptly closed without penalty after Maas and his group Spotlight San Diego agreed to file a financial disclosure.

Cabrera told the paper "he remains confident that Spotlight San Diego violated campaign laws, but he had to weigh the diminishing returns of pursuing a fine in court given the complex nature of the case."

Cabrera was quoted as saying, “From my point of view, once I determined that this was a political purpose that was being done here, my primary goal was to make sure we got disclosure, and that’s what we got."

Asked via a public records request to provide documentation regarding the controversial decision to close the investigation, the commission's Fulhorst demurred.

"The release of investigative documents in a closed matter could affect the ability of other administrative or law enforcement agencies to investigate the same or similar allegations," she said in a March 25, 2013, letter, though no follow-up investigations in the case that involved a bevy of city hall insiders have since occurred.

Regarding documents involving Cabrera's role in the investigation and settlement with Maas, Fulhorst wrote, "I have withheld those documents that concern communications between the Commission (including Commission staff) and its legal counsel, pursuant to California Government Code section 6254(k), which exempts ‘records the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.’”

Castellanos’s request to remove the commission from city attorney campaign matters was rejected by the commission at its November 6 meeting, according to program manager Stephen Ross, though Fulhorst has agreed to recuse herself and other staffers will fill in.

"Due to her service during Cabrera’s tenure on the Commission, the Executive Director has voluntarily recused herself from any participation in investigations or enforcement related to the City Attorney Race," says a November 2 memo from commission general counsel Christina Cameron.

"When an investigation becomes the subject of a Probable Cause or Administrative Hearing, there are procedures for the disqualification and recusal of individual Commissioners."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego Schools welcome end of so-called “distance learning”

School at Home ≠ Homeschool
Next Article

Myths, legends and genealogies of the Kojiki

The oldest work of Japanese literature
Comments
1

I am tired of hearing in the Reader about Carl DeMaio, former City Councilman, failed mayoral candidate and failed candidate for Congress. I think he should be allowed to fade into deserved nonentity after all this time has passed.

Nov. 7, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Gil Cabrera and Stacey Fulhorst
Gil Cabrera and Stacey Fulhorst

How close is too close? was the question raised this week by a San Diego city attorney–hopeful pitted against a former member of and sometimes counsel to the city's ethics commission.

"You are well aware that Mr. Gil Cabrera is a candidate for City Attorney and that he served on the Board of the Commission for an extended period of time and that he also served as a past Chairman," wrote Rafael Castellanos to ethics commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst on October 1.

Rafael Castellanos

"In addition, Mr. Cabrera has been retained by the Commission as an outside consultant from time to time. Many of the staff members who worked under Mr. Cabrera are still with the Commission."

Continued Castellanos, "In order to eliminate even the possibility of unfairness and bias in the workings of the Commission it is imperative to remove the Commission from any oversight of the City Attorney’s campaign."

To cure the alleged conflict, Castellanos urged that the commission recuse itself from policing the city attorney campaign beat and turn over all investigations and enforcement actions regarding the race to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

"All campaigns would still be subject to the same reporting and campaign finance laws. However, the enforcement of those laws would be administered by another agency that is not subject to any conflict of interest or bias, whether actual, potential, or inadvertent."

Fred Maas
Caitlin Rother
Carl DeMaio

In March 2013, Fulhorst threw a cloak of secrecy over Cabrera's work for the commission regarding the sensational political case of developer Fred Maas and his payment of $33,000 to a project employing local author and former U-T reporter Caitlin Rother to come up with dirt on 2012 mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio. The negative information was subsequently shopped to local media.

As first reported by U-T San Diego on March 24, 2013, Maas's effort was aided by Gerry Braun, a top aide to then-mayor Jerry Sanders and others linked to the mayoral campaign of Nathan Fletcher, the ex-GOP assemblyman who turned independent and later became a Democrat.

Cabrera was retained by the ethics commission as "outside counsel" to investigate the case, which was abruptly closed without penalty after Maas and his group Spotlight San Diego agreed to file a financial disclosure.

Cabrera told the paper "he remains confident that Spotlight San Diego violated campaign laws, but he had to weigh the diminishing returns of pursuing a fine in court given the complex nature of the case."

Cabrera was quoted as saying, “From my point of view, once I determined that this was a political purpose that was being done here, my primary goal was to make sure we got disclosure, and that’s what we got."

Asked via a public records request to provide documentation regarding the controversial decision to close the investigation, the commission's Fulhorst demurred.

"The release of investigative documents in a closed matter could affect the ability of other administrative or law enforcement agencies to investigate the same or similar allegations," she said in a March 25, 2013, letter, though no follow-up investigations in the case that involved a bevy of city hall insiders have since occurred.

Regarding documents involving Cabrera's role in the investigation and settlement with Maas, Fulhorst wrote, "I have withheld those documents that concern communications between the Commission (including Commission staff) and its legal counsel, pursuant to California Government Code section 6254(k), which exempts ‘records the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.’”

Castellanos’s request to remove the commission from city attorney campaign matters was rejected by the commission at its November 6 meeting, according to program manager Stephen Ross, though Fulhorst has agreed to recuse herself and other staffers will fill in.

"Due to her service during Cabrera’s tenure on the Commission, the Executive Director has voluntarily recused herself from any participation in investigations or enforcement related to the City Attorney Race," says a November 2 memo from commission general counsel Christina Cameron.

"When an investigation becomes the subject of a Probable Cause or Administrative Hearing, there are procedures for the disqualification and recusal of individual Commissioners."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Forty years in business, D.Z. Akin's adapts to the changing times

Dine-in service is back, but the mainstay deli has embraced the art of take out and delivery
Next Article

Myths, legends and genealogies of the Kojiki

The oldest work of Japanese literature
Comments
1

I am tired of hearing in the Reader about Carl DeMaio, former City Councilman, failed mayoral candidate and failed candidate for Congress. I think he should be allowed to fade into deserved nonentity after all this time has passed.

Nov. 7, 2015

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close