SF Politicos Score Free Tickets

Local officials get free access at Candlestick.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area's Chief Investigator, Tony Kovaleski, uncovers who is getting free tickets to Sunday's big game. (Published Thursday, Feb 2, 2012)

    If you're looking for a ticket to the 49ers championship game this weekend, get ready to pay a steep price -- but that doesn't apply to some San Francisco lawmakers.

    The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has found that some of your elected officials are receiving luxury seats for free.

    Here’s who is going:
    - San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. He gets a free box at Candlestick Park. It’s a luxury box that includes 12 tickets to the game.
    - All 11 members of the city’s Board of Supervisors also receive free seats. They each get two tickets to every home game.
    - The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department that runs the stadium also gets free tickets. The General Manager of the department gets a luxury box with 12 game tickets.
    - The seven-member Recreation and Parks Commission gets a suite as well, which seats 20.

    “It’s very improper and it is unethical,” Peter Keane, an ethicist and professor of law at Golden Gate University, tells the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

    “The supervisors getting this type of gift and not paying for it, that has an enormous appearance of impropriety and it shouldn’t be done,” Keane says, “What it says to me is that the supervisors are getting some extra pay that’s coming to them from a very strong economic entity in the city and county in San Francisco: the 49ers.”

    The State of California has ethics rules which prevent elected leaders and public employees from accepting gifts exceeding $420 in any year from a single group, but San Francisco has created a loophole in the law.

    Here’s how it works: The City of San Francisco owns the land on which Candlestick Park stands. It also owns the stadium. The City leases this land to the 49ers. However, the City says, it has elected not to lease the three box locations and 22 stadium seats. By keeping control of those portions of the stadium, about 66 total tickets, elected leaders argue, they are not receiving anything from the 49ers.

    “I think that is a very elitist view the supervisors are taking and it’s something of an insult to the intelligence of people to say, ‘well, San Francisco owns the stadium, the people of San Francisco own the stadium.’ If that’s the case, I should be able to go to the game free, just as they are,” Keane says.

    San Francisco’s City Attorney has issued a ruling saying it is okay for the elected leaders to accept the tickets.

    Supervisors Mar, Farrell and Elsbernd have told NBC Bay Area they will accept the free tickets.
    Supervisor David Chiu has decided not to take the free tickets. He is going to the game and paying the $214 per ticket value.

    We have also confirmed some San Francisco lawmakers have donated their tickets to schools and nonprofits.

    To see the city’s policy on 49ers tickets: http://sfrecpark.org/Form802AndTicketPolicy.aspx