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Politics & Policy

Mayor’s homeless commission pick bows out after reports of unethical behavior

Vikrum Aiyer, a former White House policy advisor during the Obama Administration, speaks on stage for an event in New York City on Sept. 19, 2022. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Mayor London Breed’s controversial nominee for a commission overseeing the city’s response to homelessness withdrew from consideration Friday, citing “mistakes I made as a younger man working in the Obama administration.”

Vikrum Aiyer, a tech executive who served as chief of staff in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, explained in a guest column for the San Francisco Chronicle that he was so scared to fail in the high-ranking government job that he started lying over the course of years on federal expense reports. 

A report by the Inspector General's Office found that Aiyer also lied about his education, falsely impersonated his coworkers—signing their names to cover his tracks—and used a government credit card for food, drinks and dry cleaning. He eventually paid back the government for all of these charges.

The level of detail on these transgressions wasn’t in AIyer’s guest column, but they did appear in a companion news story, both of which the Chronicle published late Friday afternoon as the weary eyes of the nation were trained on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

“I had job opportunities I could never have dreamed of, but I was so scared to fail that I made ethically dubious decisions, like expensing things I shouldn’t have,” Aiyer wrote. “I was going too fast, too soon.”

The Standard spoke with former colleagues of Aiyer in Washington, D.C., and the general consensus was he still hasn’t taken full responsibility for his actions. 

Patrick Ross, who served as the patent office’s chief communications officer, said that he was the subject of the inspector general’s investigation after Aiyer signed Ross’s name on taxi expenses.

“What he did was not just a mistake,” Ross said. “He would not have signed my name or my colleagues’ names to those cab slips if he thought what he was doing was legitimate. He clearly knew it wasn’t, and he put me in the crosshairs of the inspector general.”

A majority of supervisors previously told the Chronicle that they would not support Aiyer’s nomination to the homelessness commission, which was created after voters passed Proposition C last fall.