We kinda saw this coming and the rumors have long been out there, but now Mayor London Breed has found it politically expedient to divulge the fact that she and federally indicted former Public Works director Mohammed Nuru were once a romantic item, and remain "close personal friends."
Ever since the scandal started tumbling out with Nuru's January 28 arrest and all the subsequent innuendos, we'd been hearing that Breed and Nuru were maybe a thing once, and maybe even still a thing. And now in a Medium post Friday, Breed has decided to lay it all out there.
"Mohammed Nuru and I have been close personal friends for more than 20 years," Breed writes. "We dated for a brief time, two decades ago, long before I ever ran for office. Nevertheless, he, and his now-adult daughters, have remained close friends for all those years."
She began the post by saying, "I write this in the spirit of transparency, because in the wake of a scandal at City Hall, I think San Franciscans are entitled to hear directly from their Mayor. And also, quite frankly, to dispel some unfortunate rumors that have already begun to circulate." And she says that when she heard of Nuru's arrest and the charges against him, she was "furious." "The allegations against Mohammed and his co-defendants, if proved, represent a betrayal of the public trust that cuts to the core of our mission, and our duty, as public servants," Breed says. And she adds, "This could weigh down the hardworking women and men of not only the Public Works Department, but the City workforce as a whole."
But Breed also uses the post to divulge the fact that she has received some previously undisclosed "gifts" from Nuru — including, as 48 Hills was quick to jump on, an estimated $5,600 in car repairs and a car rental when her 18-year-old vehicle broke down last year. She writes, "The estimated cost of repairs seemed more than the 18-year-old car was worth, but Mohammed had it fixed." And, she acknowledged, that political opponents "will seek to exploit what I have shared here, to harm me politically."
The disclosure has already prompted one SF supervisor, Hillary Ronen, to call for Breed's resignation, as the Chronicle reports. Ronen reportedly said that Breed's focus on a 20-year-old romantic relationship was "ridiculous," and this was all about ethics laws.
"The only relationship that matters is that she is the mayor and he was the Director of Public Works — and thousands of dollars of gifts have passed between them," Ronen said in a statement. "We can’t continue to normalize corruption in San Francisco."
Update: Supervisor Gordon Mar has put out a statement saying that Mayor Breed should "do the right thing and temporarily step back from her duties until a full, independent investigation can be completed."
"To be clear: I never asked Mohammed Nuru to do anything improper, and he never asked me to do anything improper,” Breed writes in her post. “I was not aware of the schemes alleged by the FBI until shortly before they became public, and when I was informed, I immediately reported the information to our City Attorney.”
48 Hills puts it thusly: "The mayor of San Francisco is paid almost $300,000 a year. And she couldn’t afford to pay for the repairs to her car, or for her own rental car, or to reimburse Nuru after he paid for those things? She still hasn’t paid him back?"
As the Chronicle's Phil Matier surmised last week, it seems clear from the circumstances of Nuru's two arrests inside of a week — one that was kept quiet likely with some agreement of cooperation, and one that was immediately public and came with an extra charge of lying to investigators — that the feds have likely been trying to get someone higher up in the political food chain at City Hall. With her note today, Breed is ultimately saying they don't have anything on her except this car repair. But we'll have to wait and see.
In related news, longtime local journalist Joe Eskanazi went on KQED's Forum this morning to talk about the "culture of soft corruption" that he says has existed at City Hall for decades, despite "a city government that prides itself on high-minded moral stances."
Previously: Report: Nuru Defaulted to Loyalty As Feds Closed In, Alerting City Hall Friends