San Diego’s ethics commission has picked up yet another attorney, bringing the count of lawyers on the somewhat somnolent political watchdog’s board to five, versus just two lay members. Joe Leventhal, the latest appointee, named to the commission by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, carries the distinction of having been a top aide to vice president Dick Cheney during the administration of George W. Bush. “As part of the vice president’s senior staff,” notes Leventhal’s online profile, “Joe was then the youngest deputy assistant to the vice president at the age of 25. In this role, his responsibilities included functioning as the final substantive control point before information reached the vice president, managing complex policy, and political issues, and representing the vice president’s interests on all policy matters within the administration.”
The other GOP lawyers on the commission are Bill Baber and Fred Kosmo. Democrats Deborah Cochran and Alex Kreit round out the local Bar’s contingent. Non-lawyers are Democrat Sid Voorakkara, deputy director of external affairs in Gov. Jerry Brown’s office of Business and Development, and planning consultant Dave Potter, who doesn’t belong to a political party. So far this year, the commission has taken only four enforcement actions, reaching stipulated agreements with alleged transgressors of the city’s political ethics law. Two political efforts separately backing causes dear to Democrats — the minimum-wage hike and requiring November runoffs for all city races no matter the primary outcome — drew fines totaling $31,000.
The Republican-leaning San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce anted up a $5000 penalty for disclosure lapses related to committees employed to back failed Republican city attorney candidate Robert Hickey. The latest to feel the commission’s enforcement whip is Democratic ex–city attorney Mike Aguirre, whose 2013 campaign for mayor “failed to disclose the occupation and employer for eleven contributions totaling $1,250, approximately ten percent of total contributions received by the Committee,” per a November 8 agreement posted online. Aguirre, the document notes, “has run for elective office on several prior occasions and served as the elected city attorney from 2004 to 2008. Accordingly, Respondent knew or should have known that he was required to disclose occupation and employer information for contributors of $100 or more.” He agreed to fork over $500.