The Chronicle says the Department of Justice has asked two of its former reporters, Robert Salladay and Christian Berthelsen, for help with its investigation of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (pictured) of Oakland.
In a Feb. 17, 2004 story, Salladay and Berthelsen quoted the senator as saying he was paid about $100,000 a year by Timothy G. Staples, a political adviser who has been Perata’s friend since college. The reporters also wrote that a consulting firm Staples headed was paid $313,000 by campaign committees affiliated with Perata or by corporations who were also Perata contributors. By law, legislators are prohibited from using campaign contributions to enrich themselves.
Both reporters later left the Chron for the LA Times. Salladay quit the Times last summer and now is a writer in Sacramento while Berthelsen is still at the Times.
Salladay is quoted in today’s Chron story as saying he “chucked all the notes.” Berthelsen would only confirm that he had been contacted by a prosecutor. The FBI and DOJ also refused comment.
Staples’ lawyer, William Goodman, found it odd that prosecutors would be contacting reporters, but speculated that they’re trying to find out more than what was in the article. (Photo credit: AP, Rich Pedroncelli)