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          Front Page




Ethics Complaint Claims City Councilor Didn't Disclose Donations

By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
    An ethics complaint was filed Monday accusing City Councilor Don Harris of failing to disclose more than $30,000 in contributions he collected at a fund-raiser a year ago.
    A list of those contributions was made public Monday on the city clerk's Web site— several hours after the ethics complaint was filed and shortly after a reporter interviewed Harris by telephone about the matter.
    Harris said later in the evening that he filed the information last year but it was inadvertently omitted from the Web site until he cleared up the mistake Monday.
    He said he had not properly finalized his electronic report in a way that would have sent the contribution list to the Web site, even though the list could have been viewed internally by city-government officials.
    The issue centers on a fund-raiser that was held for Harris in June 2006 at the Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Nob Hill. It was organized by Teri Baird, who had been the chief fundraiser for Mayor Martin Chávez during his 2005 re-election campaign.
    James Lowe, a retired rear admiral who is heading a petition drive to get a recall of Harris on the October ballot, filed the complaint Monday with the city Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices.
    In the complaint, Lowe said he believed the fund-raiser provided Harris with more than $30,000 in contributions that were not disclosed. He said the situation is "most serious" and justifies a full investigation.
    Harris said he filed the information last year as an amendment to a campaign-finance report. "Every contribution, every expenditure, was reported," he said.
    He "assumed people could read it" on the Internet, but said he learned otherwise and dealt with the problem Monday.
    Lowe said he does not believe Harris' explanation. "I think he is fabricating a story to clean himself up."
    Information now available on the Internet shows about $34,000 in contributions that could not be viewed on the public Web site until after the complaint was filed Monday.
    It also shows a payment of $3,000 to Premier Consulting for services, including the arrangements for a fundraiser at Scalo.