U.S. Attorney David Anderson in a file photo on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California must be independent

By Jim Reilly

The new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California should not be in and of the San Francisco Democratic Party. The yet to be appointed US Attorney should also not be a member of what is commonly referred to as the “city family.” The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California has a multi-pronged corruption investigation and prosecution into various arms of the San Francisco city government. This investigation reaches to the top of city government. To the Public Utilities Commission, the Office of Neighborhood Services and to the City Administrator’s Office. The prosecution also extends to multiple city contractors, such as Recology.

The US Justice Department should be sure to appoint a U.S. Attorney who is independent of the San Francisco political infrastructure.

Vice President Kamala Harris was formerly the San Francisco District Attorney. She has many friends and allies who are attorneys in the Bay Area. Given her close relationship with Mayor Breed and with the former California Speaker and Mayor Willie Brown and with the political infrastructure here, the new U.S. Attorney should not be a close confidant of Vice President Harris either. The corruption investigation that the FBI is leading and the U.S. Attorney’s office is prosecuting into the San Francisco city government is extensive and far from over. How high it will reach remains unknown. Multiple cooperating witnesses are delivering evidence to federal investigators on a daily basis. All steps to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of one should be taken.

The previous U.S. Attorney, David Anderson, had tremendous success in the position. His office coordinated the largest methamphetamine bust in United States history. He led major criminal investigations into drug trafficking, pandemic-related fraud, and a wide-ranging corruption scandal involving San Francisco’s city government. Anderson also initiated and lead the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin (FIT), which brought together the resources of more than 15 federal law enforcement agencies to combat endemic drug trafficking, firearms offenses, robberies and other crime in the neighborhood. U.S. Attorney Anderson assigned 15 federal prosecutors to handle cases brought against offenders violating federal law in the neighborhood. His tenure was exceptional and the public deserves nothing less than someone who will be as effective as he was.

The people of San Francisco and of the Bay Area and of all the counties that are included in the Northern District of California deserve a US Attorney who is independent and free and clear of obstruction. This new individual should be completely removed from the political infrastructure. Anything less than that will be a great disappointment and will be unacceptable.

Jim Reilly is a criminal defense and personal injury attorney in San Francisco with offices in the Law Chambers Building.

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