Push-Back Builds Against Gloria’s Nomination of Former Sheriff Bill Gore to Ethics Commission

by on October 5, 2023 · 3 comments

in San Diego

There’s been a rising reaction to Mayor Gloria’s nomination of former sheriff Bill Gore to San Diego’s Ethics Commission. Gloria made the announcement at the end of September.

The appointment is for a four-year term that expires June 30, 2027, and still requires confirmation from the city council, which would leave one vacancy on the seven-member panel that is responsible for enforcing San Diego’s elections and campaign-finance laws.

First the push-back began in the Letters to the Editor at the U-T and yesterday, it was on the editorial page of the newspaper itself.

One letter writer wrote:

“Are you kidding me? I can’t believe former Sheriff Bill Gore would even be considered to serve on our Ethics Commission given his terrible record overseeing our county jails. Who nominated this man who resigned the same day that state auditors called him out for the 150-plus jail deaths under his watch?

Gore’s MO was to deny any culpability for the deaths. He did nothing to mitigate the terrible conditions people in custody were living in inside our jails. His model continues with our current sheriff. …

This is politics at its worst. City Council members, please do not vote him onto the ethics board. He has a proven track record of not doing his job, leading to unnecessary deaths of people under his watch. Now that is what we should all call unethical!”

Another wrote:

The residents of San Diego deserve an Ethics Commission with members who actually care about fair and equal participation in our government and who have a record of transparency before the public — not the appointment of a man whose entire career as sheriff was marked by mismanagement, overreach and violations of civil rights to the point where Gore resigned his own elected position rather than face more public scrutiny over skyrocketing in-custody deaths.

San Diego’s Ethics Commission is vital to ensuring public trust in our city elections and institutions; seating a disgraced former elected official like Gore on the commission undermines that trust. Every City Council member should vigorously oppose his nomination.

And on the same day that Governor Newsom signed two bills put forward by local San Diego lawmakers that were written in response to the repeated and continuing deaths in San Diego County jails, the U-T editorial board called the nomination out: “Gloria’s nomination of Gore to ethics board isn’t just tone-deaf. It’s off the wall.”

The editorial notes that Gore “resigned in February 2022 after 13 years on the job in response to steadily increasing outrage over disproportionate numbers of inmate deaths in county jails.” Yet, for the U-T editors, Gore’s actions that disqualify him for the Board were:

“… one of Gore’s final significant acts as sheriff reflected the 180-degree opposite of repentance. It came in early 2022 in response to an as-yet-unpublicized state audit that confirmed and added damning new details to years of reporting by the U-T Watchdog team about prisoners being significantly more likely to die in San Diego County jails than in other large counties in the state.

The audit concluded that problems stemming from indifferent management and from failing to take basic steps to improve inmate safety were so severe that nothing less than a new state law was needed to force our local Sheriff’s Department to do the right thing.” …

In response, on Jan. 14, 2022, Gore sent a letter to Elaine Howle — who had just retired after 21 years as California’s state auditor — that accused her office of lacking professionalism and adequate expertise to make informed judgments on his department.

Gore then offered himself as an expert on auditing, telling Howle — a state official revered like few others in the Capitol, someone selected as one of 2012’s “Public Officials of the Year” by Governing magazine — that she had failed to meet established “government auditing standards.”

The U-T editors provided Gore’s remarks to the Mayor’s office, and stated the editorial board considers this relevant to Gore’s suitability to serve as an ethics commissioner. But one of Gloria’s aides made this outrageous response in an email: “That’s almost comically stretching to make past jail operations relevant.” The editorial commented:

In other words, depicting critics of the selection as not knowing what they’re talking about. And the critics of Gore’s department as well — starting with state Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assemblymember Akilah Weber, D-La Mesa [who wrote the legislation just signed by Newsom].

The editorial then suggested the nomination was another recent attempt by Gloria “to shore up relationships with powerful law enforcement interests who feel demonized by many California Democrats since events in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, changed the national policing debate.”

Finally, it comically ridicules Gloria because “he thought a sheriff with so much baggage that it would clog an airport carousel was just the person to be an arbiter of ethical conduct in City Hall.”





{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron M October 5, 2023 at 8:50 pm

When I think of Sheriff Bill Gore, I immediately think of when the City of Coronado asked him to investigate the hanging death of a naked babysitter with her hands tied behind her back and Sheriff Bill Gore standing in front of television cameras trying to convince me that the babysitter committed suicide. Why would Todd Gloria invite such gross incompetence to serve on the City of San Diego Ethics Board?


triggerfinger October 6, 2023 at 11:46 am

When I think of Mr. Gore, I think of an unarmed mother being shot at Ruby Ridge under his watch. I think of the 9/11 hijackers renting a room in San Diego from one of his own informants, where while they did flight training at Montgomery field.


Judy Swink October 30, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Well written, Frank. I just sent off my own letter to each Council member stressing how inappropriate it would be to approve appointment of Bill Gore to the city’s Ethics Committee, urging them to not approve that appointment.


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