No ethics in Ethics Commission

Pub date July 10, 2009
SectionPolitics Blog

By Steven T. Jones

The San Francisco Ethics Commission has long been accused of corruption, selective enforcement, and gross incompetence – charges supported by knowledgeable activists, whistleblowing employees, and Guardian investigations – but a pair of recent developments shows just what a public liability this agency has become.

When the District Attorney’s Office this week brought felony charges against three City College officials for laundering public funds into a slush fund and campaign account, the very thing that Ethics is supposed to regulate, it highlighted just how incompetent the agency is. After all, as the Guardian reported two years ago, Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix admitted that he knew about the violations way back in 2005 – even before the Chronicle broke the story — and he did nothing.

Yet St. Croix (who has not returned our call for comment) and Deputy Director Mabel Ng – who should have been fired back in 2004 for illegally ordering the destruction of public documents that revealed another money laundering scheme, this one involving Gavin Newsom’s first mayoral campaign – have been actively trying to get rid of the agency’s most public spirited employee, Oliver Luby (the guy who first discovered the City College shenanigans), in the process opening the city up to legal liability by retaliating against a whistleblower.