The report questions whether the gift of free trips, a rare exception to the city’s otherwise strict ban on gifts to public officials, is a way of currying favor with decision-makers. “The appearance of thousands of dollars changing hands doesn’t look good and it could be easily fixed,” says attorney Jon Golinger, Chiu’s former campaign manager and a founder of the group. He raises the question, “Is a person who paid for a trip more likely to get a return phone call?”
The disclosure of Pak’s largesse comes in the wake of reports that she engineered the selection of Ed Lee as the city’s new mayor. The records show that Pak and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce she heads gave travel gifts totaling nearly $20,000, almost half of the total. Most of that was for sending Sups. Chiu, Eric Mar, and Carmen Chu to southern China in November at a cost of $6,122 each. Pak also sent Chiu to China in September, with the World Economic Forum Young Leaders Program also kicking in another $1,544 for the trip.