The Line Forms Here…The reports are in on lobbyists’ contacts with San Francisco City officials, and you have to wonder if some of them ever had time to meet with the people who actually elected them. Board of Supes Prez David Chiu, by CitiReport’s count, reportedly met 188 times with lobbyists last year – and that’s just the officially registered lobbyists, not self-important manipulators like Rose Pak or Willie Brown, both of whom managed to fatten their wallets by dint of influence peddling.
How seriously can we take these lobbyist contact reports at the Ethics Commission web site? The February 15 reports, covering the month of January, reveal that lobbyists did not report a single contact with the mayor’s office, the board of supervisors, the city attorney or anyone else regarding the appointment of an interim mayor. Believe it if you can. We can’t.
Swag…City officials have to report the gifts they received when they file their Statement of Economic Interests, which they do when leaving office, assuming office or when annual reports are due. The cap last year was about $420 dollars total from any one source, which is intended to keep the swag to reasonable levels. Some gifts don’t have to be reported at all if they are “re-gifted” within 30 days, which makes for a nice gesture to hard-working staff when you suddenly find yourself with five fondue pots.
Departed former mayor Gavin Newsom reports pages of received gifts, more than all the supervisors combined, so he takes the Swag Grand Prize for 2010. We’re not talking Starbucks coffee gift cards here. Among those giving Hizzoner swag was Nicola Bulgari, as well as the head of Tiffany’s here in town. And then in a nice bit of financial jiu-jitsu, Newsom received free tickets to the San Francisco Opera Gala, the San Francisco Symphony Grand Opening, and various other entertainment venues such as Opening Day at the San Francisco Giants. Nevermind that those groups all received either city funding or city permits from Hizzoner during the same period. After all, it’s kind of a family thing.
As one might guess, there is usually an outlier of some kind among the lists of gift-givers. A Luis Vuitton pen valued at $395 was given to Newsom on November 10 after he safely won election as Lieutenant Governor, from one Dmitry Roboloviev. Who dat? If Newsom has correctly identified the source, that would be the man listed as the sixth richest man in Russia, who plunked down $100 million cash to buy Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate, another $100 million for his yacht, plus a DC319, plus beginning work on a replica of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He also was known to have been housed in a Russian jail for 11 months facing a charge of murdering his business partner back in 1996, although the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.
CitiReport would have checked Newsom’s report against the one he had to file when he assumed office as Lt. Governor, but the FPPC web site where that data is posted still doesn’t show a report from the Scion of Sacramento.
And, in a small amendment, Mayor Ed Lee has noted that last year he did receive a bottle of win valued at $49.99 from then-mayor Newsom.
A Decoder Ring in Every Box…Ethics Executive Director John St. Croix tells CitiReport that we failed to use our Decoder Ring to decipher the secret key on whether Ethics had scrubbed mention of former District Attorney Kamala Harris’s missed deadline for her leaving office filing. The Ethics Commission list of Statements of Economic Interests lists only those that have been filed. There is a small box that a citizen can check that states “include Non-Filers in Search.” Apparently “Non-Filers” is the code phrase to pull up folks who didn’t file but were supposed to. Harris, by the way, eventually did file and her report can be seen on CitiReport’s “In-Out” file drawer.