San Francisco Issues Subpoenas to PG&E, Webcor, Pankow, Clark Construction in Corruption Probe
San Francisco’s city attorney issued subpoenas on Feb. 12 to northern California utility PG&E, contractors Webcor, Pankow, Clark Construction and others as part of a widening public corruption investigation stemming from federal criminal charges filed against the city’s public works director.
The subpoenas for records are part of City Attorney Dennis Herrara’s and City Controller Ben Rosenfield’s joint investigation into whether donations to non-profits were funneled to fund city programs and events.
Herrara and Rosenfield launched the investigation after federal criminal charges were filed against San Francisco restaurant owner Nick Bovis and Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, who are accused of allegedly scheming to bribe a San Francisco airport commissioner.
Nuru resigned Monday after being placed on leave following his arrest.
“We’re following the facts, and we’re following the money,” says Herrara in a press release, which notes that federal officials accuse Bovis and Nuru of corruption schemes that allegedly steered city contracts to Bovis. Nuru is additionally accused of allegedly having city contractors work on his vacation home for free or at a discount, accepting luxury travel gifts from a Chinese developer and lying to the FBI.
Receiving supbpoenas are PG&E, Webcor, Pankow, Clark Construction, recycling company Recology; and nonprofits Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids, the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.
“Webcor will comply with the city’s subpoena and will fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter. It has not yet received the subpoena,” says Sam Singer, firm spokesman, in a statement to ENR. “Webcor made donations to the Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids fully expecting that the contributions would be utilized to fulfil the charity’s mission. The company made the contributions at the request of the Public Works department.”
Earlier this month, the San Francisco Examiner reported that city contractors Webcor, Pankow and Recology allegedly funneled money through Lefty O’Doul’s, a children’s baseball charity run by Nick Bovis, to fund a $30,000 holiday party for public works staff.
PG&E tells ENR that the company and its employees, “work hard every day to uphold both the letter and spirit of the law and the company’s own ethical standards.”
Ari Vanrenen, PG&E spokesperson, says: “We acknowledge receiving the subpoena, are reviewing it now, and we will respond.”
In an email, Clark Construction Group said it "has received the subpoena and we are in the process of reviewing the request. Clark takes this matter seriously, and we are committed to full cooperation with the City Attorney’s office."
Scott Anderson, Pankow CEO, says in a statement to ENR: “Pankow has a long-standing history of excellence and integrity. Our charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations – those designated as 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service, such as Lefty O’Doul’s Foundation for Kids – are always intended to support the communities in which we live and work; we believe these contributions are a direct reflection on our value of integrity. Pankow has never had a need to vet our charitable donations beyond the process the IRS already has in place. In response to a subpoena from the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, we are committed to providing any and all documents related to our charitable contributions.”
The investigation aims to identify potential violations by city employees and officials; review contracts, grants and other government decisions for possible conflicts of interest and legal or policy violations; and determine if stop payments or cancellations are justified on open contracts and purchase orders.