New documents raise questions about hiring of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price’s boyfriend

New documents raise questions about hiring of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price’s boyfriend

OAKLAND — Newly obtained records show Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price’s boyfriend got a job within her office that was never publicly advertised, and despite potential red flags about his tenure at a company that he then claimed to help run.

Records show that Price’s romantic partner, Antwon Cloird, oversaw a Richmond-based company that ran afoul of state tax officials. What that company does remains a mystery to the person listed as its business agent, who said he’s never heard of it.

The new details of Cloird’s prior work history — as well as the apparent lack of competition he faced in securing a job with Price’s office — raise fresh questions about the circumstances of his employment, which was first reported by this news organization last month. Ethics experts who have criticized his new gig now say it is apparent that Price and the county did not follow good governance standards when hiring Cloird.

It “just doesn’t pass the ethical test,” said John Pelissero, senior scholar on government ethics at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. “Appearances are what should be concerning to the DA and the DA’s Office. This doesn’t look good.”

In government affairs, a transparent hiring process is paramount and “avoids any sort of favoritism, discrimination and embraces equal opportunity,” said Michael Martello, a former city attorney for Mountain View and Concord.

“For a public sector position, the best practice — and the one that’s the fairest — is one that is well advertised, is open to everybody and has a very predictable process,” Martello said.

A review of Cloird’s résumé and job application show that he spent the previous five years as chief operations officer of Community Partnership Alliance, LLC, the company that had its business suspended by state tax officials.

Nevertheless, Cloird managed to secure a “senior program specialist” job title and salary of $115,502. He is paid $10,500 a year more than another new hire working in his same unit, even though that person has a background in social work and a master’s degree, records show. Cloird lacks a four-year college degree listed as a qualification for the position he filled, but the county allows applicants to substitute real-world experience in the place of education.

The DA’s Office declined to comment for this story. Cloird did not respond to an emailed list of questions.

For months, county officials fought this news organization’s requests to see Cloird’s résumé and job application. County Counsel Donna Ziegler released the documents only after Cloird personally authorized the disclosure.

In response to questions, Ziegler acknowledged the county did not advertise the job, but human resources officials say Price was under no obligation to do so. It is unclear if there were any other candidates besides Cloird.

When Price assumed office in January, Cloird, 60, almost immediately went to work on her resentencing and re-entry team — a group of people whose job it is to identify strong candidates for early release and assess their readiness to rejoin society. One former prosecutor said previously that Cloird has undertaken his job in an unorthodox manner, sending lists of people he wanted to see released from prison.

A longtime Richmond resident, Cloird has personal and professional experience working in the field of re-entry. He was once known as “29 Seconds”, a nickname he still references, and refers back to his street days when he could “get you whatever you needed in 29 seconds.”

In the late 2000s, Cloird was employed for four years as a construction worker with Laborers Union 324. He then opened a nonprofit around 2011 called Men and Women of Purpose, his résumé says, and while there later met Price, who records show also did legal work for the nonprofit.

In 2017, he left to join Community Partnership Alliance. He worked 40 hours a week, overseeing 12 people and providing “program planning, technical assistance, review and evaluation functions to direct client service delivery programs,” his résumé said.

“I am the company liaison with service providers and funding sources and ensure that program regulations and procedures are followed; and to do related work as required,” according to his résumé, which offered few clues about the field of work it did.

State business filings raise myriad questions about the legal status of the company.

The business was suspended by the California Secretary of State’s Office nearly two months before Cloird’s arrival, records show, though the basis of that suspension is not specified. The California Franchise Tax Board followed suit in June 2018 by also suspending the company, citing an unfiled tax return.

A $250 balance remained unpaid as of early September, meaning the company has not been able to legally operate for more than five years, the state tax board reported.

In addition, Phil Allen, the attorney whose name appears as the company’s registered agent on filings with the California Secretary of State’s Office, said he never heard of the company, nor the man listed as its organizer and signatory, Bryan Hancock. Hancock, a frequent business partner of Cloird’s who also worked as a consultant on Price’s 2022 campaign, declined to comment.

Allen said someone must have added his name to the document without his knowledge, but said he also has previously worked with Cloird.

“The truth is, I’m not sure how I got on this one,” Allen said. “Bryan Hancock is not a name that’s familiar to me.”

While business suspensions are not uncommon among small California companies like Community Partnership Alliance, employment and corporate law experts say it is a sign of careless management. And putting someone’s name down as an agent without their knowledge could at worst be viewed as perjury, said Andrew Verstein, a UCLA law professor and co-director of the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy.

“This implies either extreme sloppiness, or extreme cheapness, or extreme ignorance, or some extreme reason no registered agent could work with you,” Verstein said. “They are different kinds of bad, but they are all bad.”

Not much else is known about the Richmond company. A woman who answered the company’s phone on Friday said its leaders were in meetings and not available to talk.

A mission statement on its website says it aims “to provide employment opportunities by connecting small businesses, mentoring, and coaching along the way.” It does not mention any such businesses but references Cloird by name, and his goal of “equality for individuals willing and ready for a second chance at a first-class life.”

Its address traces to a Richmond storefront on Macdonald Avenue, which housed a church for the last seven or eight years, according to the congregation’s minister, Pastor Donnie Featherstone. He said he had never heard of a business named Community Partnership Alliance but knew Cloird from his childhood, had seen him working in the building and called him a “workaholic” and “a go-getter.”

The previous investigation by this news organization revealed deep concerns by government ethics experts about how Price has employed her boyfriend, citing the corrosive nature of nepotism and the blow to public trust that such hires create. It also found Cloird drew the attention of the FBI in 2015 amid allegations that he extorted Richmond business owners for tens of thousands of dollars, though no criminal charges were ever filed.

Alameda County has no policy against nepotism — an omission that has been pilloried in multiple county civil grand jury reports over the last decade — so Price was under no obligation to notify anyone of Cloird’s hire, nor did she voluntarily do so, county human resources officials previously said.

Price has since cited the lack of any county nepotism policies while defending Cloird’s presence on her staff.

She also has called criticism of the hire a “double standard,” given how her predecessor, Nancy O’Malley, employed several relatives, including her sister and nephew.

“There are probably some other O’Malleys there that I don’t know about,” said Price, during a town hall in late August hosted by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.

In an interview, retired Santa Clara County judge and former San Jose Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell called the DA’s stance “hypocritical.” Simply put, she said: “You can’t have it both ways.”

“You can’t say ‘I’m going to be progressive and transparent and this is a new day,’ and then adopt the behavior of the very person who ran the office before, who you have slammed,” Cordell said. “And that’s what’s happened here. The county needs to have an anti-nepotism policy because everyone knows that nepotism is wrong.”

“They should be correcting this,” Cordell continued. “Where is the integrity?”