Letters obtained by Action Alameda News through public records requests show that Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam requested, and was denied, financial assistance from the California Joint Powers Risk Management Authority to pay for legal bills to defend herself against allegations of official misconduct.
On August 28th, Ms. Tam wrote to David Clovis, the General Manager of the Authority, asking the Authority to provide “defense and indemnification” against the allegations. In her letter, Tam noted that there has been “significant media coverage,” and referred Mr. Clovis to “coverage on the Internet,” at the local Alameda “Blogging Bayport” website, run by Alameda resident Lauren Do. Ms. Do is one of the local bloggers to whom Tam was accused of leaking City of Alameda confidential information. Tam, while admitting having sent the e-mails, has denied that they constituted a wrongdoing. Earlier this month, the District Attorney declined to pursue an investigation into the matter, and the City of Alameda Special Counsel retained to lead the investigation, Michael Colontuono, suggested to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley that she refer the matter to the State Attorney General, or other independent reviewer, citing a “personal and political” relationship between Tam and O’Malley.
In his September 1st response, Mr. Clovis declined to defend Tam, writing, “Under the terms of the Memorandum of Coverage, pooled coverage is provided only for compensatory damage claims made against member entities, and their officials, employees and volunteers, subject to its terms, definitions and exclusions. The coverage is on an excess basis, only, and does not include a duty of defense…Thus where the City of Alameda is not obligated to defend you regarding the matter, CJPRMA coverage does not apply to your defense either.”
The California Joint Powers Risk Management Authority is a risk pool of more than one hundred member entities in the State of California. Clovis cited Section III of the Memorandum of Coverage in his denial of Tam’s request.