The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has wrapped up its investigation into claims of corruption and influence peddling involving contracts to run the city’s parking garages. The bottom line: “…the Investigator did not find evidence of misconduct on the part of City officials or employees.” You can read the 26-page report here and the City Attorney's timeline here.
Whitney Leigh, Attorney for small businessman Fred Bekele, calls the City Attorney’s report “a whitewash”: “It’s basically a defense brief and it’s full of holes”. Leigh says, pending his client’s approval, he’ll file a lawsuit, call for a grand jury investigation, and demand the City Attorney release transcripts of all interviews conducted in the investigation.
The I-Team outlined the accusations in our report last month.
Staff at the San Francisco MTA chose Fred Bekele as the best choice to run six of the city’s most profitable garages. The seven-day formal protest period passed, but somehow, Bekele lost the deal. It came down to a 3-2 vote by the MTA Board. One of the members who voted against Bekele told me he wasn’t sure which contract he was voting on and that he couldn’t get a straight answer from MTA Executive Director/CEO Nat Ford, so he voted “no”.
Bekele’s complaint centers around Ford’s relationship with prominent San Francisco attorney Steven Kay. Ford admitted to me that Kay represents him; Kay also represents one of the parking companies who protested the contract going to Bekele. Kay sent letters to Ford saying all the bids should be thrown out. Ford failed to inform the board of his relationship with Kay, until months after Bekele lost the contract. Yet, the City Attorney found, “Executive Director Ford did participate in decision-making regarding the RFP while his personal attorney was also representing one of the disappointed proposers, but the investigation did not reveal evidence that he had any illegal conflict of interest or made decisions regarding the RFP based in any way on communications with, or his relationship with, Mr. Kay.”
We'll keep track of the case.