Since the publication of the Kroll report, I have been asked on several occasions why the commission didn’t investigate the activities described in the report. As I explained in my earlier post today, the Ethics Commission does not have the ability to self-generate complaints. In other words, we can’t investigate a matter just because there’s a lot of media attention devoted to it. Moreover, even if someone filed a complaint with us today regarding the matters discussed in the Kroll report, we’re well aware that the district attorney, the S.E.C., and the U.S. attorney are already investigating and prosecuting these matters. It would therefore not make much sense for the Ethics Commission to even consider administrative remedies until the criminal actions are completed.
It is also important to note that there are a variety of issues raised in the Kroll report that are outside the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission. Although the commission does have jurisdiction over city officials using their official positions to benefit their own financial interests, the commission does not regulate water and sewer bond disclosures or billing practices related to Service Level Agreements. Instead, as we often explain to people who call our office, we regulate specific provisions in the City’s Ethics Ordinance. As the provisions in this ordinance demonstrate, the Ethics Commission was not created to regulate every activity that someone might consider “unethical,” “immoral,” or just plain wrong.