Monday, September 25, 2023
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Ex-Supervisor Accused of Lobbying Violations

(CN) - A former San Francisco supervisor repeatedly violated a lobbyist ordinance that he voted for in 2000, the city's attorney claims in court.

After voting to pass an ordinance requiring lobbyists to disclosure the nature and extent of their lobbying efforts, Michael Yaki spent more than a year covertly lobbying on behalf of his client, Rescue Air Systems Inc., Dennis Herrera claims in Superior Court.

He allegedly tried to convince members of the Board of Supervisors, the Fire Commission and the Fire Department to preserve a city fire code mandate that certain high-rise buildings install a "firefighter air replenishment system" (FARS) made exclusively by Rescue Air Systems.

"Yet despite making more than 70 lobbying contacts, Yaki flouted the lobbyist ordinance in every way: he failed to register as a lobbyist, failed to disclose who was paying him to lobby and how much he was paid, and failed to disclose any of his lobbying contacts," the lawsuit states.

The ordinance, passed unanimously in 2000, requires lobbyist to disclose the nature and extent of their lobbying efforts.

Herrera says Yaki sometimes misrepresented whom he worked for, telling two board members that he was "working with constituents concerned about ... fire safety," and later claiming that he was the "attorney for a firm that advocates for increased safety engineering for firefighters."

Between 2012 and 2013, he sent more than 40 lobbying emails to board members and organized at least 10 meetings, according to the complaint.

But Yaki was ultimately unsuccessful, and the board voted to let developers choose between FARS and an alternative system.

Rescue Air Systems paid or promised to pay Yaki more than $3,000 for lobbying on its behalf for at least three consecutive months, but Yaki never disclosed his lobbying activities, Herrera says.

The city attorney wants Yaki to pay up to $5,000 per violation or three times the amount he allegedly failed to report, whichever is greater.

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