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Herrera Consultant Tourk Resigns


Updated May 10, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.

Alex Tourk, a consultant for City Attorney Dennis Herrera's mayoral campaign, resigned Tuesday morning amid mounting press scrutiny of his lobbying activities, Herrera campaign spokeswoman Jill Nelson confirmed.

Tourk's resignation came a day after The Bay Citizen and the San Francisco Chronicle reported that he apparently failed to disclose lobbying contacts he made with park commissioners on behalf of a company seeking concession rights at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. Failure to disclose lobbying contacts is a violation of city law that carries a penalty of $10,000 per instance.

"A series of newspaper stories about the recent work of my firm, Ground Floor Public Affairs, have become an unnecessary distraction for the campaign," Tourk said in a statement shortly before noon Tuesday. "Dennis Herrera needs to continue spending his time articulating his inspiring vision for making San Francisco work. Any time spent answering questions about me and my firm take him away from that important task."

The reports about his apparent violations published on Tuesday followed a series of articles last week focusing on Tourk’s lobbying practices, which first came to light after a cache of private e-mails related to the Stow Lake bid were made public as part of a lawsuit.

In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Tourk had lobbied Herrera about several city projects while also working for him as a campaign consultant, an apparent violation of city ethics laws.

"I appreciate that Alex does not want be a distraction," Herrera said in a statement. "I am grateful to Alex for everything he has done to help build this campaign. This is an unfortunate situation but I wish him well in his future endeavors."

The San Francisco Examiner first reported his resignation on Twitter, after Tourk issued a statement by email.

The resignation is a blow for the Herrera, who is a leading candidate in San Francisco's mayoral race. Tourk is known for his familiarity with the city's electoral landscape. Maxwell Szabo, an employee at Ground Floor Public Affairs, Tourk's consulting firm, who worked closely with Tourk on the Stow Lake bid, transferred to Herrera's campaign to become his field director. The Herrera campaign would not comment on Szabo’s future. 

"I need to spend the time it takes to thoroughly review all of my filings to double check that they are correct and appropriate which I believe they are," Tourk said. "While my firm and I have done nothing wrong, that is immaterial to this decision. Consultants shouldn’t be the story. Unfortunately, for this week at least, I am part of the story and that’s why it is time to resign."

Tourk made headlines four years ago, after he resigned from Newsom's campaign, following revelations that his wife and Newsom had an affair.

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