SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/BCN) – San Francisco department leaders cannot legally request payment from lobbyists and companies seeking to contract with the city after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation prohibiting such transactions.
The ordinance, authored by Supervisor Matt Haney, was introduced back in March and is in direct response to the citywide corruption scandal that erupted after former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru was arrested by federal officials on suspicion of wire fraud back in January 2020.
Under current city law, city officials can solicit donations from individuals as long as the payment is made on their behalf to a third-party organization. The individual, however, is restricted from giving the payment to the officials directly.
For officials who have been elected by the public, the "behested payments" are governed by local and state laws and any amount over $5,000 must be reported. However, this law doesn't apply to other officials.
"The Mohammed Nuru scandal made it very clear that we need sweeping reforms in City Hall and to undo the corrupt political culture that's deeply entrenched in our city," Haney said in a statement. "Years of blatant corruption have destroyed public trust and while this legislation won't in itself do away with corruption, it's certainly a step in the right direction and will help limit pay to play politics. We owe the public full transparency when it comes to how we spend their tax dollars."
"These sweeping reforms are rooted in the very simple premise that we should not be putting ourselves or other city officials in the position of raising money from parties who are seeking financial benefits from us," said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who co-authored the ordinance.
"This quid pro quo behavior has been the subject of a frankly shameful and embarrassing chapter in our city's history, and I'm hopeful that this will help put it behind us," Peskin said.
According to Haney, the ordinance was crafted building off recommendations from both the city's Ethics Commission and Controller's Office.
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