Naomi Kelly resigns as SF city administrator amid corruption scandal

City Administrator Naomi Kelly tendered her resignation Tuesday after federal authorities charged her husband with fraud for allegedly accepting bribes...

City Administrator Naomi Kelly tendered her resignation Tuesday after federal authorities charged her husband with fraud for allegedly accepting bribes including a paid family vacation to China.

Kelly is resigning after taking a six-week leave of absence Dec. 2 in light of the allegations against her husband, former San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly.

Naomi Kelly denied the allegations in her resignation letter Tuesday to Mayor London Breed and said the case was “based on the false statements of an admitted liar.” She was casting doubt on the credibility of Walter Wong, the permit expediter who cooperated with the FBI against her husband in exchange for leniency in his own federal case.

“I must step aside to focus on my family and to allow City Administrator’s Office to function without distraction,” Kelly said. “As a dedicated public servant, I am deeply saddened to tender my resignation in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis for which the City Administrator’s Office has a vital role. However, I know, that this is the right decision for San Francisco, for my family, and especially for my two children who have been devastated by these allegations.”

Naomi Kelly has not been charged with a crime. In her role as the highest ranking non-elected official in San Francisco, she has overseen more than 25 departments, 2,700 employees and a $700 million annual budget.

She worked for The City for more than two decades and served as city administrator since the late Mayor Ed Lee first appointed her to the position in 2012.

Her resignation is effective Feb. 1.

The Kellys were both swept up in the same FBI investigation that took down former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru and restaurateur Nick Bovis last January for allegedly attempting to bribe an airport official and accepting illegal gifts.

The corruption probe has since expanded to implicate various city contractors and officials including former Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services director Sandra Zuniga and Paul Giusti, a former government relations manager for Recology.

Harlan Kelly resigned from the SFPUC late last November after being charged. He has denied the allegations against him and is due back in court Feb. 2.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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