OAKLAND (KPIX) – Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission is considering a massive overhaul of the policy that has given City Council members hundreds of thousands of dollars in Warriors basketball tickets free of charge.
A KPIX-5 investigation uncovered the practice back in 2016. Oakland City Council members were receiving luxury box seats at high-profile Warriors games, worth a small fortune.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Council member Lynette Gibson McElhaney were among the city leaders who cashed in on the tickets.
McElhaney used $125,000 worth of Warriors tickets over a year and a half. She claimed in paperwork that she went for official reasons, including “oversight of facilities.”
“Both Councilmember McElhaney and the mayor used tickets in a way that was not sanctioned,” said Stephen Shefler, former member of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission.
Shefler said Schaaf and McElhaney’s reasons for using the tickets don’t add up.
Mcelhaney, who is also facing allegations of other ethics violations, defended the practice.
“I want to make it clear to my community that I did not betray my oath or violate your trust,” she said.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the commission’s report, “shows the tickets made available to the mayor’s office were properly documented in a timely and transparent manner.”
Nevertheless, the commission is proposing new restrictions on the tickets.
A new policy would limit council members to only five events per year. They would have to request the tickets rather than getting them automatically and they’d have to spell out why they’re going to an event.
“The current policy is an invitation to abuse,” insists Shefler.