By Tommy Hough
On Sept. 24, 2018, while a candidate for San Diego City Council District 6, I filed an ethics complaint against my opponent, Councilmember Chris Cate, for late reporting of at least $7,500 in behested payments he received from San Diego Gas and Electric earlier in the year.
Shortly thereafter I received a letter dated Sept. 25, 2018, from the city's Ethics Commission acknowledging my complaint. The letter noted two things:
Despite two requests from myself and two letters sent to the Ethics Commission from our attorney, I have yet to receive any communication from the Ethics Commission on the status of the investigation. And since we have received no word from the Ethics Commission regarding our complaint, we can conclude Mr. Cate is, again, under investigation.
On Oct. 19, 2018, my opponent and I recorded a segment for NBC San Diego's Politically Speaking program, which aired that Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and Oct. 21.
Host Gene Cubbison opened by asking my opponent about the ethics charges, noting in his introduction that Mr. Cate had already "been fined twice for ethics violations."
My opponent said I was "speaking before having all the facts," and proceeded to lay out a scenario where the behested payment filings were made before he had received money from San Diego Gas and Electric – implying the filings were made for no reason and with no money to report.
You can see the exchange here. The discussion begins at :37 seconds in.
If there were additional facts to be considered at that time, Mr. Cate should've share them with the TV audience, or with the public ahead of the election. Obviously, he was never going to do that.
Furthermore, the Ethics Commission should've made the status of the ongoing Preliminary Review public ahead of the election, as outlined in their letter and clearly intended by the commission's own "within 90 days of a municipal election" provision – which is there to ensure voters know the outcome of the investigation before the election.
Unfortunately for voters, and the public, someone ran out the clock ahead of Election Day. But the public still has a right to know, and the Ethics Commission has an obligation to see an investigation through under the provisions outlined in their own letter.
You can contact the San Diego Ethics Commission by phone at (619) 533-3477, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host and media personality, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant and communications professional, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.