Former Davis aide admits discussing contribution snafu

The Associated Press
Saturday June 01, 2002

SACRAMENTO — A former technology aide to Gov. Gray Davis has admitted that he brought up the subject of campaign contributions with a salesman for a Silicon Valley company seeking a state contract. 

Vin Patel, who was fired as Davis’ interim e-government director Wednesday, says he brought up the fact that the company’s founder had made a contribution to former Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Riordan. 

“I casually mentioned it to him, but I didn’t have the intention of creating any type of link” with the contract, Patel told the San Jose Mercury News. “If I did do something I apologize.” 

An unidentified source told the newspaper that Patel went on to suggest that the company, BEA Systems, wouldn’t be getting the contract. 

“I think he said words to the effect: It doesn’t look like we’ll be doing business with BEA,” the source said. 

A spokesman for BEA, Kevin McGuirk, said the company didn’t get the contract. 

“Vin Patel had publicly admitted to making a comment to our salesman about a ‘donation his boss made to Richard Riordan.’ We think this speaks for itself,” McGuirk said Friday. 

Davis spokeswoman Hilary McLean said no business was offered that contract because it hasn’t been granted yet. 

“And BEA does have other business with the state,” McLean said. She didn’t have specific information on those other deals. 

It’s the second time that a former Davis aide has been accused of putting pressure on a technology company about campaign contributions. 

Elias Cortez, the suspended director of the state Department of Information Technology, told a legislative committee last week that Patel’s predecessor as director of e-government, Arun Baheti, contacted an official with the Oracle Corp. to complain about campaign contributions to Republicans. 

Baheti said the allegations were an “absolute falsehood” and challenged Cortez to produce some evidence. 

Baheti was fired after he acted as an intermediary in delivering a $25,000 campaign contribution from Oracle to Davis.