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Facebook faux pas: Ethics complaint filed over link to San Diego mayor’s campaign page

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, center, speaks in January. The Fair Political Practices Commission has received a complaint over a link to Faulconer’s re-election Facebook account.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, center, speaks in January. The Fair Political Practices Commission has received a complaint over a link to Faulconer’s re-election Facebook account.

(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Visitors to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s page on San Diego’s newly redesigned city website were directed for some time to a Facebook account created to get him re-elected.

According to a complaint filed by Sara Kent with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, the link on Faulconer’s city page was a misuse of public resources.

“The public has a right to expect elected officers to be responsible stewards of public resources,” Kent said on her Facebook page. “Those politicians cannot be allowed to use taxpayer resources to promote their private election campaigns. The public has to stand up and defend itself against these abuses of power.”

Kent said in her complaint that Faulconer’s city email newsletters also contain links to his campaign. State elections law does not allow campaign activity using government resources.

The mayor’s office said it has created a Facebook account specifically for his city business, but the campaign link was used by mistake.

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“We linked to the correct website as soon as we became aware of the situation,” Faulconer aide Matt Awbrey said.

The links included in older online newsletters also have been updated, he said.

“We self-reported to the Ethics Commission … and requested that it be reviewed expeditiously,” Awbrey said. “We believe the facts will bear out that this was an inadvertent oversight.”

The Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed it had received the complaint Monday but declined further comment.

Former councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Harris issued a press release Monday calling on the city Ethics Commission to open a separate investigation. That body does not confirm or deny requests for investigations.

According to the city’s ethics law, no public resources can be used to promote a campaign. However, candidates do not have to retroactively scrub links from old press releases and newsletters if the websites were compliant when published.

The primary election is June 7.

jeff.mcdonald@sduniontribune.com
McDonald writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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