Quentin L. Kopp resigned from San Francisco’s five-member Ethics Commission on Tuesday but said he would remain active on civic issues, especially working to shine a light on political “dark” money.
Kopp regretted leaving but felt compelled to do so because of the commission’s failure to sponsor a ballot measure on “dark” money contributions to political campaigns and advertisements, and “unsatisfactory” investigative practices by the commission staff, he said in a resignation letter addressed to Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee.
Commission Chair Daina Chiu said in a written statement that Kopp’s resignation “saddened and disappointed” her but added that she was “proud of the great work the Commission and staff have done and are continuing to do to deepen the effectiveness of our reform laws in the City.”
Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee said in a statement: “I thank him personally for his contributions to good government.”
The board named Kopp in September 2016 to finish an unexpired term on the commission and appointed him to a full, six-year term the following February. He is a retired Superior Court judge who also served in the state Senate and on the board.
“I was pleased to serve under the chairman of Peter Keane, Esq. … until his abrupt resignation a year ago for failure of the Commission to submit to the Board of Supervisors and ultimately the electorate an ordinance regarding campaign contributions and campaign advertisements so as to illuminate so-called ‘dark’ money affecting adversely decisions of city boards and commissions. That refusal by some Commission members in the face of political pressure from non-profit corporations and businesses has resulted in the Board of Supervisors sponsoring a ballot measure to rectify the Ethics Commission failure a year ago,” his letter states.
“I find the investigative practices of Ethics Commission staff unsatisfactory, and the time from lodging of a complaint by a citizen to completion of preliminary review, investigation, and submission to the Ethics Commission for consideration thereof unfair to citizens, taxpayers, voters, and elected officials who created the Ethics Commission over two decades ago. An example is the investigative practice of permitting unsworn attorneys for respondents to respond to interviews instead of the respondents and percipient witnesses themselves,” the letter states.
“… I have lost confidence in the ability of the Ethics Commission and its staff to achieve the purposes represented to voters and residents two decades ago for its establishment,” the letter states. “I commend the Supervisors who are co-authors of the aforementioned prospective ballot measure, which I shall publicly support and devote time and effort to ensure approval by my fellow San Francisco voters. Having served as a Board of Supervisors member and president, state senator and Superior Court judge, I can better continue to serve San Francisco in other ways.”
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