What happens when a high level city officer, (as in San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon), along with some members of his staff are caughtillegally soliciting donations at a campaign fundraiser? What happens is that the word gets out and it all hits the fan, and fast.
Gascon and the staff members involved hat been hit with fines from the city Ethics Commission, to the tune of several thousand dollars. Gascon’s fine is $4,000, and Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart and chief of staff Cristine Soto DeBerry are said to have been fined $1,400 each. All of this looks like a fundraiser that totally backfired, costing the “fundraisers” big bucks instead of bringing in extra cash.
What was behind the blunder? One would have to think Gascon would have known better than to behave in such a gross fashion. The solicitations were made to city employees who were attending the campaign fundraiser, and the awkwardness of the situation is obvious. It’s tough to say no to the Assistant District Attorney at a social event when you are a city employee, and anyone with any sense at all would have to have known that this kind of behavior is completely out of bounds.
Apparently, Gascon thought he could get away with it, and he had no problem with asking his staff members to join him in carrying out the “fund raising” plan. According to Ethics Commission Chairman Paul Renne, Gascon and his staff said they were “unaware” that they were in violation of fundraising ethics rules. That’s a very funny answer, as Gascon has attended ethics training classes and he clearly should have known that soliciting employees was problematic at best.
Who has the final word? For now, Gascon has not returned any calls for comment on the incident.
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