Matt Gonzalez, the former Board of Supervisors President and current chief attorney in the San Francisco public defender's office, has been doing some moonlighting for a client with a $16 million lawsuit out against the city of San Francisco. As the Chronicle's Mustache & Mustache report today, Gonzalez is currently taking a monthlong vacation from his $188,000-per-year city gig to help a former law partner argue a case in which Cobra Solutions Inc., makers of administration software, claims they were banned from winning some city contracts after becoming mixed up in a bribery scheme.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi apparently has no problem with the arrangement, despite the fact that his own ethics rules explain, "no employee may provide legal advice or legal representation ... to any person or entity other than in the employee's official capacity." As Adachi explained to Matier & Ross, he allowed Gonzalez's arrangement because he it seemed like Gonzalez was only acting as an advisor — which obviously wasn't the case when Gonzalez got up to deliver the opening arguments and cross-examine witnesses in a San Francisco Superior Court last week.
For now Gonzalez is on unpaid leave from the city gig (which might explain why we've spotted him hanging around Divisadero coffee shops a lot lately), but his former boss Peter Keane, dean emeritus at Golden Gate University Law School, is calling out the conflict of interest. As Keane explained: "I'm totally flabbergasted. It is totally out of line... It is not only a complete conflict, it flies in the face of your loyalty to your main employer, the city. Matt shouldn't be doing it and Jeff never should have allowed it."
Gonzalez, for his part, told the Chronicle, "I think you're trying to jam me a little." Which: yes, that is pretty much what Matier and Ross are trying to do.