Tourk's clients sully Herrera's mayoral campaign

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Consultant Alex Tourk was a Newsom Administration insider before leaving to represent a host of corporate and downtown clients.
Courtesy of Ethics Commission

Does anyone really believe that lobbyist and campaign consultant Alex Tourk isn't talking to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, whose mayoral campaign Tourk is running, about the biggest clients and issues that Tourk is representing? Honestly, do they believe the public is that stupid?

Apparently so, because that's the story they were feeding to the Chronicle and its readers today, denying that the two men had ever talked about the Stow Lake Boathouse vendor contract or California Pacific Medical Center and its controversial plan to build a new hospital and housing project on Cathedral Hill.

I mean, c'mon, Tourk even filed documents with the Ethics Commission stating that they had talked about those issues and clients, only to now deny it after realizing that it's actually illegal to lobby one of your campaign clients. Luckily, Herrera had the good judgment to refer the matter to the Oakland City Attorney's Office to investigate, considering that this city's hopelessly corrupt and ineffectual Ethics Commission has abdicated its watchdog responsibilities in favor of repeatedly rubber-stamping every ethics waiver that comes before it, making a mockery of itself and contributing mightily to culture of political corruption that has been on the rise in San Francisco.

This is a problem that runs far deeper that just the Recreation and Parks Department steering the Oretega family vendor to Tourk, who then used his insider connection to get them the contract, which is unseemly enough. No, that's just the tip of the iceberg with a consultant who has deep connections to monied interests and who has been hired by a mayoral candidate who actually hopes to gain some progressive support.

Consider Tourk's client list. CPMC is perhaps the most controversial project facing city approval this year, one in which a powerful corporation is making big demands that are being strenuously opposed by a wide swath of working class San Franciscans. Whether Herrera would support this project as mayor and what modifications he would make are important litmus tests to determine what kind of mayor he would be. Yet his campaign consultant is simultaneously advocating for CPMC.

How would Herrera be on police issues, ranging from officer accountability to pension reform to whether to retain new Police Chief Greg Suhr? And can we really have faith that whatever stands Herrera takes weren't influenced by the fact that the San Francisco Police Officers Association is another Tourk client?

Other Tourk clients include Civil Sidewalks, which advocated for the sit-lie ordinance that police are now struggling with how to legally implement; CH2MHill, the Lennar subcontractor who exposed Hunters Point residents to carcinogenic construction dust; Medjool Restaurant, whose politically connected owner has pushed projects that clash with local planning codes; Prado Group, which has a number of development proposals in SF; Target Corp., which is doing a controversial remodel of the Metreon; and many others.

Is Tourk touting his inside access to man who may be the next mayor? Will Herrera's campaign benefit from that cross-pollination? I've left messages with Tourk and Herrera to ask these questions and others, and I'll update this post when the call back, but what do you think they're going to say? And, based on their credibility-stretching comments to the Chron today, will anyone believe them?

UPDATE: Herrera called back, but he wouldn't discuss these issues on-the-record, instead just giving me a quote similar to the one he gave the Chron: "I was surprised to read that Alex Tourk listed me on his lobbying disclosure forms because he never lobbied me on any of those clients and issues."