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The San Diego Ethics Commission made no recommendation tonight on a proposed amendment to the city’s lobbying ordinance that aims to minimize the influence of campaign cash at City Hall by prohibiting campaign fundraisers from lobbying local officials. The measure will be passed along to the City Council rules committee without a recommendation.
The amendment stipulated that anyone who raises more than $5,000 for any individual candidate is then precluded from lobbying that candidate after they enter office.
The measure drew lengthy public comment both in support and in opposition, but in the end, the commission decided only to outline to the rules committee a summary of the issues raised during the meeting.
The amendment was proposed as a response to “the types of activities where actual and potential corruption have been identified in the City of San Diego,” according to a June 22 memo from Stacey Fulhorst, executive director of the commission.
Fulhorst said that the public’s negative impression of lobbyists and campaign contributions, coupled with recent cases of corruption in San Diego, justified the measure.
Commissioner Gil Cabrera, the sole supporter of the amendment, agreed with Fulhorst. He said that in his experience raising money for political candidates, the more money an individual raised, the more likely they were to get face time with a candidate, as well as a private phone number and e-mail address for the official.
Other commissioners, however, said that the measure was not the most effective way to curtail improper influence in city government.
“There’s something that can be done,” said Commissioner Lee Biddle. “There’s something we should do, but this sort of very dramatic approach is perhaps not the best way to go about it.”
To Biddle’s argument, Cabrera replied, “Baby steps. Gotta do baby steps.”
The recommendation to support the measure failed by a vote of 4-1. Cabrera was the loan supporter. Commissioners Charles Dick, Dorothy Leonard, Larry Westfall and Biddle voted against the proposal.
– SAM HODGSON