Quentin Kopp Resigns from S.F. Ethics Commission

The 90-year-old calls the commission he’s quitting “ineffectual,” though critics would charge that’s just Kopp calling the kettle black.

The San Francisco Ethics Commission is losing an appointed member who’s spent more than 47 years in Bay Area public service. Longtime Bay Area elected official and retired judge Quentin Kopp resigned from the commission this morning, according to the Examiner, criticizing the commission “ineffectual” and “unsatisfactory.”

I find the investigative practices of Ethics Commission staff unsatisfactory,” Kopp says in his resignation letter. “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.”

It’s currently unclear if his resignation has an effective date, and the commission is scheduled to meet again March 15, a week from this Friday.   

KQED’s Ted Goldberg cites a letter from Friends of Ethics co-founder Larry Bush, wherein Bush  reportedly says Kopp “sees no appetite for meaningful change,” and “decided he can do more off the commission than on it.” Bush reportedly adds that “Several major reform efforts lost at Ethics because two commissioners wouldn’t support basic things like developers funding campaigns of politicians.”

Bush himself resigned from Friends of Ethics last year, citing similar frustrations.

It’s true that the Ethics Commission, an appointed watchdog body tasked with enforcing campaign finance and ethics laws, is notoriously backlogged. Some cases currently before the commission date back as far as 2015.

But Kopp’s own watchdogging skills have drawn as much mockery as praise in this phase of his career. Above we see a letter he hand wrote to NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith in 2016, complaining that “Your greeting to Audie (?) Cornish on NPR is nauseating; That chipper greeting ‘Hey, Audie’ and her moronic schoolgirl response ‘Hey, Tamara’ reminds one of 16-year-olds’ banter. You’re terrible as a political commentator.”  

Heck, we’ve gotten our own hate mail from Kopp over the years. A May 2017 letter to SF Weekly news editor Nuala Sawyer complains of an “ungrammatical story” he says “was written as if you were still in the fifth grade, which your grammar reflects.”

None of this takes away from Kopp’s distinguished career that spans nearly 50 years of public service in the Bay Area. Kopp was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1971, and represented the West Portal for 15 years. He ran against Dianne Feinstein (and Jello Biafra!) in the 1979 San Francisco mayor’s race, ultimately losing in a runoff. He served in the California State Senate for more than ten years, and an additional six years as a San Mateo County judge. Interstate 380 in San Mateo now honorarily bears the name Quentin L. Kopp Freeway.

In a statement to SF Weekly, Ethics Commission chair Daina Chiu says, “I am saddened and disappointed to learn today that Commissioner Kopp has resigned his position,” and, “It is unfortunate that San Franciscans will no longer benefit from Mr. Kopp’s contributions as a member of the Commission. On behalf of the Commission, I thank him for his service.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Related Stories