OAKLAND — The former executive director of the Coliseum Authority is under investigation for seeking a $50,000 fee from RingCentral for negotiating a stadium naming rights deal to rename the current home of the A’s and Raiders.
Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, on Tuesday confirmed the DA’s office has opened a probe into Scott McKibben’s role in the $3 million contract.
“We are investigating, and I therefore cannot comment further,” Drenick said.
As executive director and CEO of the authority, McKibben may have violated a state conflict-of-interest law if he stood to benefit from a contract he helped negotiate for the public agency he oversaw, a government ethics expert told this news organization last month.
McKibben, who resigned from his post on Aug. 9, declined to comment Tuesday evening.
As reported last month, invoices show McKibben billed RingCentral for a $50,000 consultant fee as part of the three-year deal to name the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum after the Belmont-based company. The invoices obtained by this news organization showed McKibben in June sent two invoices on Coliseum Authority letterhead. A third invoice only listed his name and home address in Pleasanton.
The final invoice included a more detailed description of his work, including working “closely with Coliseum Authority Board to secure final unanimous approval of a 3-year contract for the Naming Rights.” McKibben specified the fee be paid upon the board’s approval and listed a due date of July 25.
McKibben never received payment and was placed on administrative leave in early July.
State law prohibits public employees from having financial interests in contracts they negotiate on behalf of taxpayers. Violations can be pursued civilly or criminally, up to felony charges punishable by state prison time.
Mike Martello, a government ethics expert who was a city attorney in California for 30 years, said it’s possible McKibben violated that state law, Government Code Section 1090. Martello said “the matter should be referred to the district attorney or attorney general for prosecution.”
Coliseum Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben on negotiations to bring an arena football team to Oracle, once the Warriors leave for SF. pic.twitter.com/8HMkTFRrWT
— David DeBolt (@daviddebolt) March 15, 2019
Adding to the intrigue is McKibben’s new position as team president of the Oakland Panthers, a new franchise in the upstart Indoor Football League. Over the past several months, McKibben was part of his agency’s negotiations to bring an arena football team to Oakland Arena, formerly Oracle Arena, to fill a void left when the Golden State Warriors moved to San Francisco.
In May, McKibben attended an IFL matchup in Arizona, meeting with Roy Choi, the owner of indoor league teams in San Diego and Iowa. The pair ran into retired NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, beginning talks of bringing Lynch on as an owner. Lynch was there to see his younger brother, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, play for the Nebraska Danger.
On Tuesday, co-owners Lynch and Choi announced the creation of the Oakland Panthers at a news conference and named McKibben team president. The team plans to make Oakland Arena its home beginning next spring.
After his resignation from the Coliseum authority on Aug. 9, McKibben alluded to his new position with the Panthers.
“Personally, the biggest reason in ‘my mind’ for moving on is that I am going to join another sports and entertainment organization in the coming weeks and I’ll go public at the appropriate time,” he wrote in a text message.
In addition to the DA’s investigation, the Coliseum authority board hired a firm to investigate McKibben’s actions as CEO and executive director. Oakland councilmembers and Alameda County supervisors sit on the board, which oversees the Coliseum complex co-owned by the city and county. As CEO of the authority, McKibben earned $300,000 a year.
“I always had a lot of respect for Mr. McKibben, but the way this is presented, it is a conflict of interest,” Oakland Councilman Noel Gallo said of the RingCentral deal. “It needs to be dealt with legally and directly.”