BY JIM DOOLEY – A former staffer for City Councilman Tom Berg has claimed in a sworn affidavit that he collected $28,643 in city salary for 77 days of work he actually performed for Berg’s political campaign.
The allegations from former Berg chief of staff Eric Ryan “are a complete lie, a fabrication,” Berg told the state Campaign Spending Commission today.
Commission staffers noted that Berg had not responded in any detail to Ryan’s allegations and recommended that his campaign be required to reimburse the $28,643 to the City, but commissioners deferred a decision until next month.
Berg said he had responded to the same allegations when Ryan made them to the City Ethics Commission and didn’t realize he needed to repeat his responses to the Spending Commission.
He said Ryan began making false accusations against him after the Councilman fired Ryan last year.
Berg also said he has filed a criminal complaint against Ryan with police and prosecutors, alleging that Ryan took some $3,000 from Berg’s checking account after Berg fired him from his city job.
No charges have been filed against Ryan based on Berg’s complaint.
The City Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment today on the accusations made today by Ryan and Berg.
City Ethics Commission executive director Chuck Totto said the issues are under investigation.
He noted that a city employee who performs political campaign work on city time could be required to repay the city. Or the employee’s boss could be liable for the repayment if the worker was ordered to do campaign work, Totto said.
Ryan told the commission that he and other Berg staffers were directed by Berg to devote “hundreds of hours” of city work time to the Councilman’s political campaign, “amounting to tens of thousands of dollars in illegally-directed in-kind contributions from the City and County, which Berg deliberately failed to report to you.”
Ryan likened Berg to a combination of three disgraced former Council members: Rene Mansho, Andy Mirikitani and Rod Tam.
Ryan said he had supplied “a mountain of evidence” to the commission and said members “should have no problem at all recognizing Tom Berg’s unfortunate pattern of deliberate deception of the commission and the public.”
Ryan, a graphic arts designer, has engaged in similar disputes with State Rep. Kymberly Pine and gubernatorial candidate John Carroll.
His work for all three political figures ended badly. He hosts websites including “kympineisacrook.com” and “citizens against crooked politicians.” (In their defense, someone launched http://ericryanisacrook.blogspot.com/p/story.html )
Pine is now running against Berg for the City Council’s 1st District seat, and Ryan continues to accuse both of them of various deeds.
Berg said today that he has spent so much time and energy responding to Ryan’s complaints to the Ethics Commission that he didn’t look at the allegations lodged by Ryan with the Spending Commission.
He said he didn’t know what he did with a cd-rom containing the Spending Commission records, including Ryan’s affidavit, and asked for another copy.
The commission agreed to make another copy for him and asked him to submit a response by next week. Ryan will then have an opportunity to respond and the Commission will revisit the issue at its November meeting.
The Commission did decide to fine Berg’s campaign $250 for its failure to report a gift of t-shirts.
Berg said a former staffer gave the 24 shirts to the campaign although he characterized the items as “throwaways” with little or no value.
He disputed imposition of the fine, calling it “$250 for someone’s trash.”