Police union consultant may still be lobbying for POA

A consultant for The City’s powerful police union was fined last year after an investigation found he illegally lobbied a San Francisco supervisor. Now, new emails obtained by the San Francisco Examiner show additional instances in which Gary Delagnes may have acted as an unregistered lobbyist, including one that occurred just four days after making amends in the initial case.

In October, Delagnes was fined $5,500 in a settlement for failing to register as a lobbyist and for failing to file disclosure reports required by law in connection with emails he sent in December 2014.

That fine was ultimately paid by the Police Officers Association, not Delagnes.

The settlement also required that Delagnes back register as a lobbyist for the period in 2014 that he lobbied. He back registered on Oct. 16, but never registered to lobby during 2015 and had not done so for 2016, according to the Ethics Commission.

Delagnes would not comment when questioned by the Examiner, but has said in the past he wasn’t aware that his activity counted as lobbying.

Delagnes is a paid political consultant for the POA and was a consultant when he illegally lobbied elected officials. City law defines a lobbyist as anyone who makes one or more contacts with elected officials on behalf of his or her employer. Exceptions are made when such contacts include union working conditions and contracts.

The case is particularly of interest now that some have questioned whether The City’s Ethics Commission is as effective as it should be. The commission itself blasted the mayor’s budget recently, saying cutting the commission’s already-tight budget would eviscerate its power.

“We may well need to beef up our enforcement activities. And that may well result in our asking for more money for enforcement,” said commissioner Peter Keane about whether the investigation into Delagnes activity was thorough enough.

Delagnes was fined for contact he made in 2014 with Supervisor Supervisor Malia Cohen over a resolution supporting Black Lives Matters activists. Delagnes wanted her to back away from supporting Supervisor John Avalos’ resolution, which she voted against.

The Ethics Commission contacted Delagnes last summer and requested his emails, he told the Examiner in October. Delagnes obliged, and the inquiry only found one instance of him contacting officials on a political matter in a month’s time: the Cohen email.

But new emails obtained in a public records request show Delagnes subsequently contacted at least two supervisors and took part in what appears to be lobbying, none of which was acknowledged by the Ethics Commission.

On Oct. 20, Delagnes sent an email to Supervisor Mark Farrell, among other recipients, about changes to the Sanctuary City law after the controversial shooting death of Kate Steinle.

“The refusal of the BOS to act on amendments to the current Sanctuary policy is not only disgusting but intolerable,” Delagnes wrote. “No member of the Board of Supervisors who opposed these amendments can ever receive another dime or endorsement from this association. It once again shows … complete lack of remorse, respect, or concern for the murder of Kate Steinle. This is one of the most egregious, embarrassing votes I can remember in the history of this idiotic city …”

Then on Sept. 22, Delagnes forwarded an email to supervisors Scott Weiner and Cohen about a pending piece of legislation that would impact the University of San Francisco’s charitable organization exemption. The original email was written by POA President Martin Halloran.

In late June 2015, Delagnes and Supervisor Katy Tang had an email exchange about a paid leave charter amendment that Tang was backing. The email is an example of exemptions made for contacts made on union matters.

“Thanks for the call back about your paid leave charter amendment,” Delagnes wrote June 24. “As I understand you do not intend for your charter language to prevent any non form bargaining a higher amount.”

LeeAnn Pelham, the new executive director of the Ethics Commission, said she cannot speak to the thoroughness of any previous investigation. But she said investigations usually focus on a specific span of time, as this one did. Still, such inquiries should expand in the future, she said.

“It’s our responsibility is to try and be as robust as possible,” Pelham said.


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