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Council President Ben Hueso has received a six-month extension to raise money to reimburse expenses stemming from a San Diego Ethics Commission investigation.

The Ethics Commission’s executive director, Stacey Fulhorst, granted the extension for Hueso’s legal defense fund last month. He opened the fund in January.

Through March 31, Hueso had raised $5,160 to pay for expenses incurred in defense of a complaint that was dismissed in November 2008 after an 18-month investigation. His forms listed $15,550 in expenses Hueso’s seeking to have paid through his committee.

Elected officials who open a legal defense fund typically have six months after a case is finished to raise money. Fulhorst said that deadline recognizes that when an elected official raises money while in office, it can create the impression that donations are meant to curry favor. “It is important we impose a time limit,” she said.

But extensions are also allowed because defense proceedings can rack up large legal bills that can’t quickly be paid back, Fulhorst said. She said she granted an extension because Hueso’s committee demonstrated it was making diligent efforts to pay off the debt.

There’s no limit to the number of extensions that can be granted. Fulhorst said Hueso’s representative indicated the committee could pay off the expenses by the new Nov. 13 deadline.

RANI GUPTA

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