Raul Campillo, ultimate victor in the Seventh District council race
Stacey Fulhorst, the recently retired Executive Director of the city's ethics commission, ended her seventeen-year tenure in office with a whimper in the form of a $500 settlement with city council candidate Noli Zosa, a well-wired Republican restauranter who runs Dirty Birds, violated city ethics laws by hitting up a bevy of city hall employees, according to a stipulated agreement with Zosa reached under Fulhorst's reign and approved by the ethics commission on November 19.
"At all times mentioned herein, Noli Zosa was a candidate for City Council District 7 in the March 2020 primary election, as well as the November 2020 general election," notes the document, which does not name those solicited.
The stipulation says that the Zosa for Council 2020 committee, which made the emailed pitches for money, was controlled by the candidate.
"Between May 2019 and October 2019, the Committee sent 164 emails to City employees (at their sandiego.gov email addresses). The emails included invitations to fundraisers (some with minimum or suggested donation amounts), a link to the Committee's online donation page, and/or a link to a printable invitation, including a hard copy donation form." according to the document.
"Of the 12 employees who received the emails, two donated to Respondent's campaign."
That Zosa agreed to return the contributions in question and "fully cooperated" with the commission investigation were cited as "Factors in Mitigation." He also agreed "to take necessary and prudent precautions to ensure compliance with all provisions of the Election Campaign Control Ordinance in the future."
The stipulation doesn't argue that Zosa was naive about local campaign law. In a hit piece he dispatched in October against Democratic rival Raul Campillo, ultimate victor in the Seventh District council race, the Zosa campaign advised voters that Campillo "has been nailed for four ethics violations during his City Council campaign."
Patrick Bouteller, Faulconer's director of government relations
In January of this year, Campillo agreed in a stipulated agreement with the ethics commission to pay a $1000 penalty to settle commission charges that printed material produced by his campaign didn't use appropriately sized type font, among other transgressions.
"In February of 2019, Respondent paid for 500 business cards that were subsequently distributed in support of his candidacy," says the Campillo stipulation. "Although the business cards included the requisite wording, the disclosure was printed in a 2.8-point typeface."
"In April of 2019, Respondent ordered 20 campaign signs that were subsequently displayed by volunteers at various events," according to the document." Although the signs included the requisite wording, the disclosure was printed in a "typeface equal to 0.7% of the sign height," says the document.
Notes the stipulation: "With respect to yard signs, the disclosure must be printed in a contrasting typeface at least 5% of the sign height," and typefaces must be "at least 10 points" in size. Two other counts included similar allegations.
Campillo's campaign fired back at Zosa in text messages citing material obtained under the state public records act in October of last year.
Among the documents were emails by the Zosa campaign to officials including Francis Barraza, Senior Director of Community Engagement for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Michelle Porras, director of the mayor's scheduling, and Patrick Bouteller, Faulconer's Director of Government Relations.
"On June 30, I am facing my first big campaign fundraising deadline," says a June 20 electronic missive. "It's very important for campaigns to show financial strength on this day, so I am emailing you to ask if you can help me reach my fundraising goal. Any amount will help -- $25, $50, $100, $250, or he maximum $600 would be truly appreciated.
"I am excited to keep building momentum so we can win this seat in 2020! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!"
A September 24 email from Zosa for Council 2020 tells the would-be city hall donors to contact Karolyn Dorsee," a longtime professional fundraiser for Republicans including Donald Trump, Pete Wilson, Faulconer and the Lincoln Club, "for more information."