Oakland port embroiled in federal investigation
Under orders from a federal grand jury, the Port of Oakland has become embroiled in a complex controversy surrounding possible influence peddling by state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.
The grand jury has asked the port to provide thousands of pages of documents during an investigation into deals for roadside billboards on port land at Oakland International Airport and near the Bay Bridge.
The FBI and federal prosecutors have also been looking into deals for roadside billboards along Interstate 880 by Perata and the same group involved in the port's billboards.
Port officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that the port has turned over more than 26,000 pages of reports, memos and e-mail messages to the federal grand jury, some of them as recently as the past couple of weeks.
According to the Chronicle, federal investigators have not revealed who or what exactly they are investigating.
A spokesperson for Perata told the Chronicle that the senator “has had absolutely no involvement in these recent billboard issues, but this reinforces what we said all along — that this is an investigation without a clear focus, purpose or direction.'
The billboard company involved in the projects issued a recent statement stating that company executives had been assured by federal prosecutors that members of the company contacted by investigators are only witnesses — not a 'target or subject' — of the investigation.