Null finding ends harbor district’s nude photo investigation

One of the photos Tom Mattusch emailed to Sabrina Brennan and 40 other people in 2014.
One of the photos Tom Mattusch emailed to Sabrina Brennan and 40 other people in 2014.

Daily Post Staff Writer

An investigation has found that San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Tom Mattusch sent an email containing pornographic images to fellow commissioner Sabrina Brennan, but it happened four years ago — before Mattusch was an elected official.

Therefore, Brennan’s complaint that she was sexually harassed by a fellow board member was determined to be null, according to an investigation by an outside attorney, Mary Topliff.

Topliff’s investigation determined that Mattusch sent the email to Brennan and 40 others in June 2014, five months before he was elected to the board in November 2014.

Brennan, who is a lesbian, also complained that Mattusch behaved inappropriately when he invited her in May 2014 to Tanzania for a safari trip, where neither of their wives would be present.

Brennan said she was “surprised” by the invitation. Mattusch denied inviting Brennan due to any romantic or sexual interest in her. Again, this alleged incident happened before he was on the board.

Brennan helped Mattusch with campaign

Despite these claims, Brennan helped Mattusch with his campaign, according to Topliff.

“I find it significant that Brennan continued to work on or otherwise support Mattusch’s campaign for the next six months. It does not appear that she was under any obligation to do so,” Topliff wrote.

Brennan told Topliff that she had supported Mattusch in his bid for harbor commissioner because “he was not as bad as the board that was in place at that time.”

Brennan also cited a number of actions by Mattusch that she felt constituted retribution. But because they allegedly occurred only when Mattusch and Brennan were together without witnesses, none of those allegations could be verified, Topliff said.

Topliff said in her report that the two incidents that she could verify — Mattusch’s invitation to Tanzania and the pornographic images — were “isolated events.”

Probe cost taxpayers at least $25,000

Topliff’s investigation cost the district at least $25,000, said Harbor Board President Virginia Chang Kiraly.

General Manager Steve McGrath said yesterday that the district was working on compiling a summary of the costs of the investigation. The board unanimously voted on Wednesday to make the summary of the investigation’s costs public information, as well as the report in whole.


  1. He sent the photos to 40 people. I guess Brennan thinks he was harassing all 40 at the same time. And why did she wait four years to report this? Did she get caught up in the Harvey Weinstein hysteria and wanted to call attention to herself? Very odd.

  2. If this information was brought out before the election, Mr.Mattusch, should not have been elected. That being said, since the emails were not sent while Mr.Mattusch, was not sitting as an elected commissioner, the decision by the investigator is a correct and fair one.

  3. This is another in a long series of embarrassments for the San Mateo County Harbor District. It’s time to disband the district and turn it over to the county, which will hopefully outsource the management of the harbors and we can end this money-wasting drama by Brennan and her cronies. This board isn’t competent to do anything right. 25K to investigate sex harassment by a board member before he was even a board member? They’ve got better things to do with that money…OUR MONEY!!!

  4. What is he doing sending pictures like this around to people? Maybe it’s not sexual harassment of a fellow commissioner, because it pre-dates his term in office, but it’s still beyond the pail. I’m not taking Brennan’s side because I think she’s crazy, but there’s something wrong with Mattusch.

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