From S.F. Gate by Jill Tucker:
Hydra Mendoza has for several years played a controversial dual role in San Francisco politics, acting as both a school board member and the mayor's education adviser.

It's a legal although unusual arrangement, but one that has raised ethical concerns that her loyalties may be split among her public responsibilities, her paycheck, and now, her personal life.

A handful of recent incidents involving Mendoza have failed to pass the political smell test, with ethics experts and others saying her actions have led to the unacceptable appearance of a conflict of interest or potential impropriety.

Mendoza was a key player in negotiating a $2.7 million donation last fall from the Foundation to city middle schools for iPads and other needs, bolstering Mayor Ed Lee's initiative to increase resources for city middle schools.

The money, announced publicly in October, was then processed as a nonprofit donation through the United Way of the Bay Area, where Mendoza's then boyfriend, now husband, Eric McDonnell, is the chief operating officer.

While McDonnell's organization is waiving an administrative fee that would typically come with such agreements, there was arguably the potential for future revenue. The foundation is expected to donate significantly more to the initiative - perhaps $15 million to $20 million - later this year, according to founder Marc Benioff.

Not everyone, including then-school board President Rachel Norton, initially connected the dots between Mendoza and the United Way, when the deal was announced in October.

"I was concerned when I learned about it," Norton said, adding that district lawyers cleared it, but it wasn't a board decision. "How it looked made me a little uneasy."

Board members and district leadership were assured by district lawyers that no conflict-of-interest laws were broken, given that Mendoza's husband didn't financially benefit.

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