Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor from a pool of nominees nominated by the Council and City Attorney and confirmed by Council. A Commissioner's four-year term begins July 1 and ends on June 30.
The Commission is composed of seven members. At least one of the members must be a person who has been a candidate for elective governmental office or held a high level position in an election campaign, and at least two of the members must be attorneys in good standing with the California Bar Association. No more than three members may be registered with the same political party.
W. Lee Biddle
Attorney with the law firm of Ferris & Britton practicing in the areas of litigation and regulatory law. Mr. Biddle previously served as the staff attorney for the consumer advocacy group Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), focusing on telecommunication and energy issues. While at UCAN, he helped secure groundbreaking verdicts and settlements recovering tens of millions of dollars for state consumers. Mr. Biddle also served on the legal staff of the San Diego District Attorney in a special assignment to review past convictions that may warrant renewed DNA testing. Mr. Biddle is a graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego and obtained his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Biddle is a registered Democrat. His term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2013 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Associate attorney at McCarthy & Holthus, LLP in the Civil Litigation Department, specializing in Real Property Law. Ms. Cochran graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology in 2004. She later earned her Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, graduating with magna cum laude honors. During law school, she studied abroad in both Tanzania, Africa and Buenos Aires, Argentina; and was the recipient of the Black Women Lawyers of California Annual Scholarship Award, and the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association 33rd Annual Scholarship Award. Ms. Cochran is a registered Democrat. Her term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2015 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Instructional Systems Designer with L-3 Communications/D.P. Associates, designing and developing aviation training and providing quality control on instructional materials for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Formerly employed by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as a Lead Instructional Designer/Training Development Specialist, developing training for the U.S. Department of Defense on a variety of projects. Has been active in numerous organizations, including 10 years on the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board serving as Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary; a member of the Del Mar Heights Elementary School Site Council and the Torrey Pines High School Foundation Board, and co-chair of Torrey Pines High School Student Success Services. Ms. Detsky-Weil received the SAIC Health Care Technology Group Recognition Award for outstanding contributions to the Composite Health Care System (CHCS) project, and received the 2001 City of San Diego Community Service Award. Ms. Detsky-Weil received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, holds a Massachusetts Teaching Certification in Secondary Education, and recently earned a certificate from the Paralegal Program at UC San Diego. Ms. Detsky-Weil is a registered Democrat. Her term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2015 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Former US Navy officer; also served as a Special Agent in the FBI for 27 years investigating white collar crime; created a joint task force involving the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, Secret Service, SEC, and Goldman Sachs to investigate the three largest bank failures in US history. He helped create and chaired for 5 years Beachfest, an annual alcohol-free, family-friendly community event in Pacific Beach; also chaired the US National Lifeguard Championships in 2000 and 2002. He was named "Citizen of the Year" by the San Diego Lifeguard Association in 2000. He was elected to the boards of governance of local San Diego elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools; worked with the San Diego City Council and San Diego School Board officials to successfully fund and build a joint-use public softball park; served as the Chair of a YMCA group studying building a YMCA in Pacific Beach. He was a candidate for the San Diego Unified School Board in 2000. Mr. Fuller is a registered Republican. His term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2013 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Hon. William J. Howatt, Jr.
Elected Commission Chair effective July 1, 2013. Retired San Diego Superior Court Judge. Served over 27 years as a Municipal Court and Superior Court Judge. Former Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court and Supervising Judge of the Family Law Courts prior to retirement. Judicial assignments included Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, Criminal Law Trial Division, and Independent Civil Calendar Division. Prior to his judicial career he was a Deputy District Attorney for the County of San Diego serving in the felony trial, appellate and fraud divisions prior to being Supervising Deputy in charge of the El Cajon Office. Native San Diegan and fifth generation Californian. Graduated from Fallbrook High School, University of California at Berkeley and the University of San Diego School of Law. Received the Bernard Witkin Award; Family Law Judge of the Year 2005 of the State Bar of California; Distinguished Jurist Award from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and Dedicated Service Award from Certified Family Law Specialists of San Diego. Served three years as a member of the California Judges Association Ethics Committee. Served on the Court Coordination Committee and Presiding Judges Committee of the Judicial Council of the State of California. Judge Howatt is registered as an Independent. His term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2013 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
John C. O’Neill
Elected Commission Vice Chair effective July 1, 2013. Partner and head of the Business & Technology Team with the law firm of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, practicing law in the business, corporate and securities, and mergers and acquisitions practice areas, with over 30 years total experience. He is the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors (2005 – 2008) and a current member of the Executive Committee of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and is a current member and past chair of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Downtown YMCA. He is legal counsel to a number of nonprofit organizations, including the San Diego Humane Society and S.P.C.A. Mr. O’Neill obtained his Juris Doctor Degree and earned a Masters of Law in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law, and received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College. He is not registered as a member of any political party. His term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2015 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Retired President, Goodrich Aerostructures (Rohr, Inc.). He has more than 30 years experience in corporate management, operations, and oversight in four different industries. In the early 1990s, Mr. Wetzler was instrumental in successfully establishing an Ethics Office, hiring an Ethics Officer, and developing ethics policies, procedures, and training programs on behalf of the corporation. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University, and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, and Bachelor of Arts degree in Math from Washington College in Maryland. Mr. Wetzler is a registered Republican. His term on the Ethics Commission expires on June 30, 2013 (or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed).
Guillermo ("Gil") Cabrera
Served as Chair of the Ethics Commission from 2007 to 2009. A principal of the Cabrera Firm, Mr. Cabrera is an attorney in private practice specializing in general business litigation with an emphasis in complex business litigation, securities litigation, unfair competition, white collar criminal defense, and political law. Mr. Cabrera was formerly an attorney with the San Diego office of Cooley Godward Kronish LLP and Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP. He is a graduate of Boston College Law School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University, Fullerton. Mr. Cabrera previously served as the Chair of the San Diego Chief of Police's Use of Force Task Force and is a member of the Chief's Latino Advisory Committee. He is a Wish Granter, Member, and past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego. Mr. Cabrera also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. Cabrera is a registered Democrat. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2005 to 2010.
Charles H. Dick, Jr.
Managing Partner of the San Diego office of Baker & McKenzie, where his law practice focuses on civil and securities litigation. Past Chairman of Baker & McKenzie's North American Litigation Practice Group. General Counsel to the San Diego County Bar Association and former director of the San Diego County Bar Foundation. Founding director and active member in the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, for which he served as Southern California State Chair and is Chair of the International Committee. Former director of the Corporate Governance Institute - a joint venture of the Corporate Directors Forum and San Diego State University's College of Business Administration. Past Board Chair of LEAD San Diego, Inc. Active in work of the Rotary International Foundation and past president of the La Jolla Rotary Club. Retired Captain of the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve. Graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law. Dick is a registered Republican. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2003 to 2007.
Formerly with the law firm of Phillips & Cohen representing whistleblowers under the provisions of the State and Federal False Claims Act. Former attorney at the Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, specializing in complex civil rights, environmental, election and poverty law cases. Former Executive Director of California Common Cause. Former member of the City of San Diego Election, Campaign, and Governmental Ethics Advisory Board. Foster is a registered Democrat. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2003.
Retired attorney. Former Executive Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division at the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York where he was responsible for reviewing each case recommended for prosecution by law enforcement agencies. Practiced law as a trial attorney in the private sector for more than twenty years before retiring in 1991. Actively participated in the campaigns of various local, county, and state candidates, and served on the board of the Conservative Order for Good Government. Graduate of New York University School of Law. Gaynor is a registered Republican. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2003.
Associate attorney at Gordon & Rees, where she works in the firm's Insurance Coverage Group, specializing in advice to and litigation on behalf of insurers with regard to their varied business needs. Prior to joining Gordon & Rees, Ms. Haney practiced law at La Bella & McNamara, where her work focused primarily on white collar criminal defense. Born in Decatur, IL, Ms. Haney earned her undergraduate degrees in philosophy and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At University of Illinois, she was elected to the University Statutes and Senate Procedures Commission of the Student Government Senate and served as co-editor of the Student Government newspaper. Ms. Haney graduated Cum Laude from the University of San Diego School of Law, where she was chosen as a member of the Mock Trial Team. At USD, she successfully competed in national competitions, received Honors for trial advocacy, and was awarded "Best Oral Advocate" for appellate advocacy. Ms. Haney takes an active role in community service for the City of San Diego. In addition to her volunteer work for the San Diego Chapter of the American Red Cross, she is certified as a disaster services worker through the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a volunteer organization that trains citizens to act as first responders in emergency situations. Ms. Haney is not registered as a member of any political party. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2007 to 2009.
Charles G. La Bella
Founding partner of La Bella & McNamara LLP, a law firm specializing in white-collar criminal defense, corporate compliance and business litigation. Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of California in San Diego, where he headed the prosecution of the longest judicial corruption case in the history of San Diego, resulting in the bribery convictions of three Superior Court judges and a prominent Civil Attorney. Recipient of the FBI Director's Award for Distinguished Service to Law Enforcement for his work in heading a Special Task Force, focusing on the possible violation of federal campaign finance laws during the 1996 presidential election. Graduate of Fordham Law School. La Bella is not registered as a member of any political party. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2003.
Served as Chair of the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2007. Former Vice Chair of the City of San Diego Elections, Campaign & Governmental Ethics Advisory Board from 1992 to 1994. Former Chair of the San Diego City Planning Commission and President of the California State PTA. Chair of the San Diego Unified School District Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee (ICOC) for Proposition MM, the $1.5 billion bond measure. Former Director of Program Services for the March of Dimes San Diego and leader in the creation and development of Mission Trails Regional Park. Graduate of San Diego State University. Leonard is a registered Republican. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2010.
Certified Public Accountant specializing in fraud investigations with Riel & Associates, Inc. Former investigative accountant in the Fraud Division of the Office of the San Diego District Attorney, performed financial investigations involving embezzlements, grand theft, real estate, insurance, and investment scams. Current member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the California Financial Crimes Investigators Association, and the Asian Accountants of San Diego. Member of the AICPA's Independence-Behavioral Standards Subcommittee. Graduate of University of San Diego with a Bachelors in Accounting and San Diego State University with a Master's degree in Public Administration. Riel is a registered Republican. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2005.
Former elected member of the San Diego City School Board of Education. She served many years as a professor of English and African American Studies at San Diego City College. Recipient of the San Diego African-American Living Legacy Award, the California Women in Government Tribute for Service to Women, and the Samaritan of the Year Award. Smith is a member of the Association of African-American Educators, Vice President of San Diego Women Incorporated and is involved in the Christ United Presbyterian Church. Graduate of the University of Southern California with a Doctorate in Education. Smith is a registered Democrat. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2005.
Karen Thomas Stefano
Attorney with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati where she specializes in securities litigation and commercial litigation for technology and growth business enterprises at all stages of development. Prior to that, Ms. Stefano was Of Counsel to Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP where she litigated complex securities actions. Before joining Milberg Weiss, she spent seven years as a solo practitioner, devoting her practice to criminal and civil litigation in state and federal court. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Stefano served as an aide to Rep. Robert T. Matsui (D-Sacramento), where she focused on a variety of policy issues, including campaign finance. Ms. Stefano served as a member of the State Bar of California's Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct from 1994 to 1996. She co-chaired the Legal Ethics Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association in 1994. Ms. Stefano received her J.D. from the University of California, Davis, School of Law in 1990 and received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. In 2004, she received her Masters in Business Administration, with an emphasis in corporate finance, from the University of San Diego. Ms. Stefano is a registered Democrat. She served on the Ethics Commission from 2003 to 2007.
Richard M. Valdez
Served as the Chair of the Ethics Commission from 2009 to 2010. Attorney with the law firm Sandler, Lasry, Laube, Byer & Valdez LLP practicing general civil litigation, complex commercial litigation and disability access laws. A San Diego native, Mr. Valdez is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. Mr. Valdez is a former member and subcommittee chair of the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee. He presently serves as the chair of the board of directors of the San Diego LGBT Community Center and previously served as a member and vice-president of the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties and a member and chair of the board of directors of The Access Center of San Diego, Inc. Valdez is a registered Democrat. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2007 to 2010.
Attorney with the firm of Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon & Vitek. Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of California from May 1999 until June 2001, where he was responsible for the prosecution of all federal criminal offenses, including the investigation of former San Diego City Councilmember Valerie Stallings. Past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, former Chairman of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission of the California State Bar and past member of the San Diego County Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee. Graduate of Valparaiso School of Law. Vega is a registered Democrat. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2001 to 2005.
Larry S. Westfall
Served as Chair of the Ethics Commission from 2010 to 2011. Certified Public Accountant and Retired National Director of Deferred Compensation – Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. A California native and resident of San Diego since 1978. Over thirty years' of business experience primarily in the healthcare industry as an auditor and consultant. Former partner and Assistant National Healthcare Director – Deloitte, Haskins & Sells. Former Managing Partner of San Diego office of KMG Main – Hurdman and John F. Forbes & Co. Formerly with the U.S. General Accounting Office. BS and MBA from the University of Southern California. Served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during the Viet Nam Conflict. Has been active in numerous professional and local organizations including the Greater North Park Community Planning Committee. He is not registered as a member of any political party. He served on the Ethics Commission from 2004 to 2011.