Repercussions from 1997 bash still echo through chambers of San Francisco politics 

The infamous Jack Davis birthday bash of 1997 continues to haunt those who attended.

Former Assistant District Attorney Paul Kelly, who now runs his own law firm, was appointed by former Mayor Gavin  Newsom to serve on the San Francisco Relocation Appeals Board just days before Newsom left for his new job in Sacramento. The little-known city board helps families who may be displaced.

But Kelly’s  appointment approval by the Board of Supervisors was controversial before it even started, during a board subcommittee meeting  on Feb. 3, when old news reports resurfaced.

Supervisor Jane Kim, the chair of the Rules Committee that gives first signoff on the appointment, questioned Kelly’s qualifications for the post and then brought up “allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.”

“There are some questions about your ability to interact with female colleagues,” Kim said. “And I was hoping that you might be able to address that.”

Kelly responded: “I am taken aback by that and I don’t think there will be any problems in that regard, Chair Kim.” Kim was referring to a 1997 media report that detailed allegations Kelly grabbed a woman’s breasts during  a birthday party for local political operative Davis that was attended by most of The City’s political elite.

The infamous May 3, 1997, party generated detailed reports on the acts of debauchery that continue to be talked about to this day, such as a man having a pentagram carved on his back, then urinated upon, as well as a number of kinky sexual acts.

Kim voted against the Kelly nomination, but supervisors Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd voted in support. On Tuesday, the full board was scheduled to vote on the nomination, but Kelly withdrew, citing business conflicts.

Kim said Tuesday she had spoken privately with Kelly following the Rules Committee meeting and  was no longer concerned about the sexual allegations. However, she said she remained concerned about whether he was qualified for the post.

Kelly said in an e-mail Tuesday that “nothing that transpired at Rules Committee had any bearing whatsoever on my decision to withdraw.”  Kelly said he withdrew his name after “further reflection” on how serving “could potentially create conflicts of interest that would interfere with business opportunities and prevent me from representing certain clients and their interests in certain matters in the future.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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