Newsom's ex-chief now heads SF Connect 

Alex Tourk, who left City Hall after his public falling out with Mayor Gavin Newsom after he confessed to having an affair with Tourk’s wife, took center stage Wednesday in his new role as head fundraiser for a nonprofit that he and Newsom worked together to create.

San Francisco Connect is a nonprofit organization thatoversees Newsom’s Project Homeless Connect program, which puts on one-stop events to provide homeless people with services and donated goods.

Tourk, Newsom’s former deputy chief of staff, is widely credited for creating and implementing Project Homeless Connect as well as San Francisco Connect, which expands the volunteer effort to other needs such as planting trees and providing computer training to youths.

At a reception held Wednesday for supporters and potential donors, Tourk was introduced as the organization’s new "chief development person."

Tourk, who is now separated from his wife, will do the work for SF Connect through a consulting firm, Ground Floor Public Affairs, that he launched last month.

Project Homeless Connect and SF Connect are Tourk’s "proudest accomplishments in 13 years of politics and government," he told The Examiner, adding, "Why would I not want to get back involved in helping?"

And although Tourk said he has not spoken to Newsom about coming back to work with SF Connect, he was emphatic that, "we stand united on this program."

Newsom, who attended the reception, left without talking to Tourk. The Mayor told The Examiner later that afternoon that, "I’m pleased that he continues to be passionate about Project Homeless Connect, he’s never deviated from that, to his credit."

After Tourk resigned, Newsom’s campaign officials announced that the Mayor would continue to pay his former campaign manager’s $15,000-a-month salary out of his own pocket until Tourk found another job.

Tourk declined to discuss how much he is getting paid to work on SF Connect, and Newsom wouldn’t say whether he was still supporting Tourk.

"That’s my own personal business," Newsom said.

Although last year SF Connect had a goal of raising $1 million a year, the goal has been shaved down to $500,000 annually, according to Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, SF Connect’s board president, who called Tourk "the real founder of SF Connect."

beslinger@examiner.com

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