Former Democratic National Committee and Obama for America national platform director Michael Yaki is being sued by the city of San Francisco for illegal lobbying activity.
Yaki, a former member of San Francisco’s board of supervisors, is alleged to have made illegal contact with city officials on behalf of a company he was working with that makes an air system for firefighters.
The lawsuit states that Yaki sent more than 40 emails to members of the board of supervisors and their aides and organized more than 10 meetings urging them to retain a segment of the city’s fire code that required the air system.
San Francisco has a unique lobbying law that requires any individual who earns more than $3,000 over three consecutive months attempting to influence city officials to register as a lobbyist. As a member of San Francisco’s board of supervisors in 2000, Yaki voted for the city’s lobbying ordinance.
“Yaki flouted the lobbyist ordinance in every way,” according to the lawsuit, which is the first of its kind ever filed according to the San Francisco Gate.
Yaki did not register as a lobbyist, nor did he report any of the meetings or his earnings.
However, Yaki denies that he violated the law, arguing that he was making policy-based arguments to officials as an attorney “performing a duty or service that can be performed only by an attorney.”
“There is an exception within the ordinance allowing attorney representation, and as an attorney I worked within the parameters of the ordinance,” Yaki said in an email to the Gate.
Deputy City Attorney Joshua White, who is handling the case, vehemently disagrees.
“That is absolutely not what Mr. Yaki was doing,” said White. “He was making policy-based arguments about why the Board of Supervisors should adopt” a particular law.
The 2008 Democratic National Platform that Yaki helped to craft was very clear on the issue of lobbying, vowing to “close the revolving door.”
“We will close the revolving door that has allowed people to use their position in the administration as a stepping stone to further their lobbying careers,” stated the platform.