San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón broke the law when he asked staff members to donate to his 2014 reelection campaign. So reports the Chronicle, which notes that the DA told the Ethics Commission investigating the matter that he didn't realize doing so was illegal, and in fact he himself had been asked by city workers in the past to make contributions to campaigns.
"City officers and employees may not solicit political contributions from other city officers and employees, even while off duty," wrote City Attorney Dennis Herrera in a memo, picked up by the Chron, circulated to city employees two months before the November 2014 fundraiser. But that is exactly what Gascón did at a sports bar near the Hall of Justice (likely Ted's Sports Bar & Grill), netting $8,500 from 56 employees with the assistance of the Assistant DA Michael Swart and Gascón's Chief of Staff, Cristine Soto DeBerry.
The ban on such employer solicitations stems from the reasoning that an employee might fear retribution from a boss should she decline to make a contribution.
Ethics Commission Chairman Paul Renne told the paper that Gascón, Swart, and Soto DeBerry all pleaded ignorance of the law, and will be fined $4,000, $1,400, and $1,400 respectively.
This news is of particular interest as just this past January Gascón announced charges filed against political consultant Keith Jackson (and two others) for a mishmash of corruption-related crimes including "six misdemeanor counts of campaign finance fraud for using straw donors to unlawfully funnel bribe money to political campaigns."
According to Renne, Gascón never denied his involvement and cooperated with investigators.