The story stands out for the naked language used in the attempt at buying influence. From the Journal:
(Westly), who joined RadiumOne’s board in November 2013, suggested in a Dec. 3, 2013, email to Mr. Chahal that lawyer Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor and State Assembly speaker, “believes that he can help you.” Mr. Westly, who is considering a second run for governor, wrote that Mr. Brown knows the district attorney and “may be able to ‘back him off,’” adding that Mr. Brown is a “very good deal broker.”
Six days later, in an email with the subject line “Willie Brown,” Mr. Chahal wrote to Mr. Westly: “Just met him. Wants $1 million if he can make this go away. Just gave him a $250K retainer. If you meet him tomorrow. Apply some pressure on him to make this go away in 2013.”
Mr. Westly responded: “Wow. That’s pricey, but probably worth it if he can make it happen. I suspect he will pull out all the stops to get this done.”
Yesterday, KQED's Devin Katayama spoke to Jeff Elder, the Journal reporter who broke the story. Elder said that one email from a RadiumOne attorney evinced "great consternation" with Gascón. As reported in the print story, the attorney wrote, "Seems like Gascón needs to be visited with some domestic violence."
Westly has declined to comment. But you wonder what effect the incident will have on any plans he has to run for governor. Ironically, posted on his website is a San Francisco Chronicle editorial headlined, "California's Old Political Machine Losing Steam."
As for Willie Brown, he declined to talk to the Journal, but he did respond to the story today on Chronicle columnist Phil Matier's show on KCBS . (You can listen here.) The former mayor also writes a Chronicle column, which runs every Sunday on the front of the Bay Area news section.
"We were asked to put together a legal team to defend this particular person who was accused, 47 counts of domestic violence," Brown explained. "Very serious, as a matter of fact, you can probably go to jail for the rest of your life if you were so convicted. So it was more than just an IPO. It was whether or not a guy in his 30s might be spending the rest of his life in jail. We did put together a fabulous defense team.
“We followed all of the rules and regulations," Brown went on to say, "and saved him.”
When asked about Westly's email saying that Brown may be able to get Gascón to "back off," Brown says, "That’s something you ought to discuss with Mr. Westly. I don’t do emails."
Well, did Brown say he could make it all go away for a million bucks?
"I would tell you that one would be out to lunch if they said they can make anything go away, period. You can walk through all of the facts and figures that you have and you could say what the conclusion can be, but you cannot say, with any degree of accuracy or honesty, you can make anything go away."
Brown said the goal of the legal team he put together was to convince Gascón that a home-security recording of the alleged domestic violence incident would be inadmissible, presumably so that the DA would lessen the charges. But that attempt failed, Brown said. "Because, politically, you know, when you start dismissing things like domestic violence, you really are running the risk on your re-election of having people raise questions about your judgment."
But the judge dismissed the video on his own, Brown said. He refunded most of the retainer money, he said, because he "didn't do the work for it. That's the way you do it, by the hours." He said he thought he was paid less than $20,000 for the case.
Finally, Matier asked Brown why he would get involved in such an ugly domestic violence case. (Prosecutors alleged Chahal struck his girlfriend more than 100 times over 30 minutes.)
"Well, everything involving criminal cases are ugly, " Brown said. "Not just domestic violence ... and believe me, not unlike in the world of medicine, you take your cases based upon whether or not your client has a plausible way to avoid persecution, or prosecution, as people would call it, and further, whether or not he could afford you."
"Whether or not he could afford you," Matier repeats. "Is that the ultimate thing, whether or not you can make a buck off it?"