City Attorney: “I know what the law is”

herrera.usf.jpgAlex Tourk is still City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s consultant for Herrera’s campaign for San Francisco mayor, even after allegations that Tourk illegally lobbied Herrera arose Thursday, Herrera said Thursday evening.

“They weren’t lobbying contacts at all,” Herrera told the Appeal following a nine-candidate mayoral forum at the University of San Francisco, describing the four meetings between Herrera and Tourk which Tourk registered as lobbyist contacts in filings with the city Ethics Commission.

Tourk listed two meetings with Herrera concerning the Police Officers Association and two meetings with Herrera concerning California Pacific Medical Center. Both the POA and CPMC are Tourk clients, as is Herrera.

City law forbids campaign consultants from lobbying city elected officials who are also that consultants’ client. Tourk registered lobbying contacts with Herrera and with District Attorney George Gasc√≥n, whose election campaign Tourk is also running.

Herrera did not offer an explanation as to why his consultant would list “casual conversations” as lobbying contacts, but maintained the benign nature of the encounters.

“The POA, it was a conversation about who I thought would be a good chief, that’s it,” Herrera said. “The others were informational conversations where [Tourk] told me about the [CPMC] project.”

Tourk and his firm, Ground Floor Public Affairs, remain Herrera’s campaign consultants, Herrera said. Tourk did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Herrera has forwarded an ethics investigation into the lobbying contacts to the Oakland City Attorney, but reiterated that there was no wrongdoing, at least in regards to his contact with Tourk.

“I know the law well enough to know when a conversation is a lobbying conversation and when it’s not a lobbying conversation,” Herrera said. “If it was a lobbying conversation, I would have stopped the conversation.”

A lobbying “contact” “means communication, oral or written, including communication made through an agent, associate or employee, for the purpose of influencing local legislative or administrative action,” but there is also a host of “activities” which are specifically not contacts. Read it for yourself here.

Photo from USF candidate forum: Chris Roberts

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