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Questions Swirl About San Francisco Interim Mayor’s Business Dealings

Author: Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco Interim Mayor Mark Farrell is feeling some backlash after a letter surfaced suggesting his new job could potentially benefit his company.

Less than a month on the job and Farrell is on the hot seat over his relationship with Thayer Ventures, a tech investment firm he co-founded in 2009.

At the center of the fray is a letter sent out by Thayer Ventures, the day after Farrell was picked to be the city’s interim mayor.

Thayer Ventures says that they had already gained many “intangible benefits” from Farrell being on the Board of Supervisors and that “We believe Mark’s role as mayor of San Francisco (as short as his term will be) will inure to the long term benefit of Thayer Ventures.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronan said, “I’m not happy about it. You know, it looks bad.”

And San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen says she was “shocked.”

We spoke to Farrell and asked him what Thayer Ventures invest in.

“Young companies in the technology world,” Farrell responded.

The memo’s author, Chris Hemmeter, has since issued a statement saying: “The day after Mark’s appointment, we needed to reassure our investors that our company would continue to thrive. . . in my haste I made a poor choice of words that I regret.”

But for Supervisor Cohen, who was critical of Farrell becoming Mayor, it is not enough.

“For me the next step is to possibly launch an investigation,” Cohen said.

But Farrell says his ties to Thayer Ventures have never been secret and that there will be no benefits for him or the company from his being mayor.

“Since the moment I was sworn in as mayor, I took a leave of absence,” Farrell said.

Farrell also said none of the companies he has invested in have done business with the City and County of San Francisco.

“I work all the time with our City Attorney’s Office to make sure that none of the investments that we have made as a firm had any conflict,” Farrell said.

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