IRVINE : Other City Workers Used Sheridan Firm
City Councilwoman Sally Anne Sheridan’s real estate firm has represented as many as 19 city employees in private land transactions since 1984, her husband and business partner said Tuesday.
Sheridan’s role in representing City Atty. Roger Grable in the sale of his home earlier this year triggered an ongoing city inquiry into the practice, which was criticized by Councilman Edward A. Dornan as a potential conflict of interest.
On Tuesday, a city official also revealed that the inquiry has been expanded beyond the Grable transaction to include all business that the Sheridan partnership did with municipal employees.
City Manager Paul Brady Jr. confirmed that the inquiry, being conducted by a San Francisco expert in legal conflicts, has been widened to include all city employees at the request of the council. Brady declined comment on the inquiry, saying it is scheduled for discussion at a closed session of the council Tuesday.
Sheridan’s husband, Donald Sheridan, a broker at ReMax Realty in Irvine, said Tuesday that he believes his wife did nothing wrong in her business dealings with city employees. He said no more than 20 such transactions occurred in the last seven years, and together represented no more than 10% of the Sheridan partnership’s business. The Sheridans were commonly the listing agents for property sales in these transactions, Donald Sheridan said, which entitled them to a small percentage of the sale price.
Donald Sheridan also offered to provide detailed information on each transaction to the council, through his personal accountant. He declined to identify publicly the city employees he and his wife have represented.
Sheridan said he said his wife have disclosed all financial information required by law, and challenged other council members to do the same.
“I consider (the inquiry) a persecution of my wife,” he said. “Enough is enough. I think we should all be on a level playing field and open all of our books.”
Sally Anne Sheridan, a candidate for mayor against popular incumbent Larry Agran in next month’s election, could not be reached for comment and did not participate in Tuesday’s news conference at the couple’s real estate office.
Dornan, who first questioned Sheridan’s transaction, on Tuesday called the press conference “a desperate attempt to camouflage the issue of (Donald Sheridan’s) representation of city employees.”
Dornan said he will seek to require that all city employees report any business transactions with any council member.
“This way, it’s right up front and it doesn’t prevent people from doing anything if it isn’t illegal,” Dornan said.
City Manager Brady has acknowledged selling at least two houses through the Sheridans while he served as assistant city manager.
City Atty. Grable also confirmed that his home was listed by Donald Sheridan in a transaction completed on April 13. Last December, Sally Anne Sheridan voted to renew a city contract with Grable’s law firm, Rutan & Tucker. Grable said he is familiar with conflict laws and can see no violations.
Sally Anne Sheridan abstained last week from voting on a matter involving Rutan & Tucker. Donald Sheridan said Tuesday that his wife is not allowed under state law to vote on any such matter for one year after the sale of Grable’s home.
Sheridan said he and his wife plan to continue representing city employees in real estate deals.
“I think we should be able to do business with anybody we want to,” Donald Sheridan said. “Why should we be restricted just because Sally is an elected official? We’ve got to make a living.”