Phil Matier: Conflict Of Interest Over Oakland Coliseum Contract?

OAKLAND (KCBS) – Some questions are being raised about a potential conflict-of-interest in the awarding of a multi-million dollar contract to run the Oakland Coliseum involving City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente and former State Senator Don Perata.

Currently there are three different companies bidding to run the stadium and concert venue. It’s a $7 million dollar deal that lasts about a decade.

One of those companies, SMG, has hired Perata, who is a lobbyist now, to help them swing the bid their direction. Another one of Perata’s projects is called Hope Campaign 2012, which aims to put it up to the voters whether a dollar tax should be put on each pack of cigarettes, in order to fund cancer research.

It turns out that, as part of that drive, Hope has paid De La Fuente about $37,500 in the last couple of years for his advice on how to get different labor groups to back the initiative.

KCBS’ Phil Matier Comments:

The possible conflict is that De La Fuente sits on the board of directors of the Coliseum complex, which will ultimately decide and vote on who gets that contract.

This is subject to disclosure laws, and De La Fuente didn’t file the first payment he received, saying he still has a couple of days to file the second.

What Perata has done for years is to keep his political machine running, so sometimes his campaigns on the side, whether they be for bonds or a tax initiative, wind up having a lot of his supporters and campaign workers working on them as well. In this case, De La Fuente is a long-time supporter, but the question is – where do friends and funds mix? And how should they be delineated when it comes to the public making a decision?

None of the other board members appear to know about De La Fuente’s work with Perata, so this could definitely play into the contract for the biggest sports complex in the Bay Area.

Although there’s a chance that stuff like this goes on all the time, it’s still helpful for the public to know about it.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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