It’s no secret that Alameda County schools Superintendent Sheila Jordan is one of the most ethically challenged politicians in the East Bay. And now CoCo Times political columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen has provided more evidence of Jordan’s sliminess. Vorderbrueggen uncovered a letter that Jordan recently sent to companies that do business with her office — the Alameda County Office of Education — requesting that they make donations to her reelection campaign.
While soliciting contributions from companies that have public contracts over which Jordan has control is not illegal, it should be, said Bob Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies and former general counsel to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. “This solicitation is Exhibit One for enacting such a ban covering all elected officials,” Stern told Vorderbrueggen. “This should be illegal; it certainly is unethical.”
Of course this is not the first time that Jordan, a longtime political apprentice of ex-state Senator Don Perata, has run afoul of ethical standards. In 2006, the Express recounted in a cover story a litany of her questionable activities over the years. They included falsely accusing a county board member of violently threatening her, allegedly forcing her underlings to openly campaign for a favored board member candidate, allegedly firing employees who questioned her office’s financial decisions, and then doing nothing when a longtime employee, who also questioned her office’s decisions, was framed for child pornography.
The latest incident involving the campaign donation letter also prompted the usually staid editorial board of the Tribune and CoCo Times to strongly criticize Jordan, calling her actions "particularly disturbing." And it's no wonder. As Vorderbrueggen recounted, the letter read: “As a substantial vendor of goods and/or services to the Alameda County Office of Education, you may be interested in knowing that the office of superintendent of schools is an elective office and that elections will take place this coming June 8. … If your firm's community relations policy permits you to do so, you may wish to participate in my upcoming re-election campaign kickoff event. ... It costs money to run a campaign, even for a nonpartisan office such as Superintendent of Schools. If you wish to contribute, you can write a check at the door.”