As the Rules Committee considers two diametrically opposed nominees to the Ethics Commission – one a reformer and the other an ally of those who want this political watchdog to be as toothless as possible – Larry Bush with the new CitiReport blog has penned an excellent rundown of the sad recent history of an agency that is ineffective at best and corrupt at worst.
We at the Guardian have reported extensively on the problems with the Ethics Commission, from its coverup of Gavin Newsom's money-laundering to its failure to regulate Willie Brown's blatant flouting of city lobbying laws, as well as how the agency has expelled the only public-spirited employees it's had, such a Oliver Luby and Joe Lynn.
At a time when big corporations and local power brokers are cutting backroom deals to give away millions of dollars in taxpayer revenue, and when even public officials are refusing to answer basic questions about ethics violations and influence peddling, this would seem to be a good time to try to restore faith in the agency that is supposed to be regulating that kind of thing.
Instead, powerful interests seem to be doubling down and going for broke, hoping that the public is too trusting or complacent to do anything about it. Sadly, they may just be right.