City Hall Director Resigns Amid Allegations Of Directing Contracts To Spouse
A bombshell report in today’s San Francisco Examiner shows that a top City Hall department head, who had just resigned in good graces after 11 years on the job, was perhaps not in such graces after all. Turns out the official had directed $1.2 million in city contracts to their spouse’s company — without disclosing this as required by law — and had been under secret internal investigation.
When San Francisco Public Health Director Barbara Garcia resigned out of the blue on Wednesday, many wondered why the well-respected champion of clean needle programs and safe injection sites would suddenly step down. But from the Examiner report, we now see that Garcia’s resignation came after “a months-long investigation by the City Attorney’s Office and the Department of Human Resources into a potential conflict of interest.”
“Garcia allegedly used her authority as department head to direct city contracts to an institute where her wife plays a leading role, according to sources close to the matter,” writes Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in today’s Examiner. “The embattled public health director was then given a choice to be fired, or resign.”
City Hall officials are required to file something called a Statement of Economic Interests (or Form 700) with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. The form is basically where you lay out any sources of money that you or your household may have that might pose an economic conflict of interest to your City Hall duties.
Garcia had not initially reported her wife’s $100,000 annual salary from the California Institute of Integral Studies on these forms, though as Public Health director she had directed contracts to that nonprofit university. But she amended her 2017 filing this past July 9, and also amended her 2016 filing on July 9 this year, as seen above in the “I added my wife’s income” statements. These amendments came more than a year after the fact, and once the City Attorney and HR investigation was already underway.
“Did she resign just in time to avoid being fired?” Friends of Ethics co-founder Larry Bush asked the Examiner. This is of course an allegation, but that’s certainly how it appears.