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San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald Testifies At Ethics Commission Hearing

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. Ms. Emerald has not yet been fined by the Ethics Commission. KPBS regrets the error.


San Diego City’s councilwoman Marti Emerald is testifying at a city Ethics Commission hearing this afternoon. Her attorney argues she was unfairly fined $10,000 for a campaign finance violation.

San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald is testifying at a city Ethics Commission hearing this afternoon. She has admitted to a campaign violation that carries a maximum penalty of ten thousand dollars. But her attorney argues she does not deserve to be fined.

Stacey Fullhorst, Executive Director of the Ethics Commission, stated the goal of the hearing.

“The only matter pending before the presiding authority today is the amount of the fine that should be imposed in connection with Councilmember Emerald’s admitted failure to disclose $50,000 -- 90 percent of her post election debts,” said Fullhorst.

Emerald does not dispute that her campaign treasurer failed to declare in a timely fashion bonuses promised to campaign staff if she won the election.

But Emerald’s attorney, Bob Ottilie, argues the $10,000 fine is excessive

“Ms. Emerald, who has a tremendous history in this community as an honest and ethical person, and who has devoted her life to uncovering unethical conduct, has been unfairly treated,” Ottilie argued.

He said the original complaint came from an anonymous tip from the office of Emerald’s opponent in the 7th district election, April Boling. He also said that during the ensuing investigation, Emerald cooperated fully with Commission staff. Commissioners say they agree the councilwoman cooperated fully with staff.

The Commissioners have to decide whether mitigating factors warrant reducing or eliminating the fine.

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