Wednesday, April 28, 2010

San Diego Grand jury: County needs ethics

Craig Gustafson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The San Diego County Grand Jury has advocated for years to strengthen the city of San Diego's Ethics Commission.

Now they're pushing for county government to create a similar oversight body for its politicians, high-ranking officials and lobbyists.

County officials have long maintained that no such overseer is necessary because the California Fair Political Practices Commission investigates complaints throughout the state, including San Diego County.

The grand jury's report released Tuesday notes that the FPPC has only five investigators to look into complaints around the state. Since its inception in 1976, only 83 of the agency's 1,400-plus fines have been issued in San Diego County. The agency also only monitors lobbyists at the state level, so registered lobbyists at the county go unwatched.

The grand jury recommended county officials establish the County Fair Political Practices Board because the state agency is not equipped to audit county elections, doesn't enforce local lobbying laws and doesn't have sufficient staff to probe conflict-of-interest allegations.

The 19-member grand jury is made up of county residents that investigate and report on local governments. The county must respond to the recommendations within 90 days.

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