“The new money is either going to the incumbent [Mayor Ed Lee] or just staying out,” lamented Bevan Dufty in a Matier & Ross column last week
. With the latest numbers out from the Ethics Commission, Lee has swamped the competition this quarter – raising over $748,000 for the period ending September 30th. And while David Chiu does have the most “cash-on-hand,” the media have not reported how little of that money was raised recently. Ed Lee’s rivals are now having to look elsewhere for money – getting creative when they can: Chiu in New York, Leland Yee with donors across California, and Dennis Herrera tapping names like Thomas Coates. Lee has raised an impressive sum from local business owners, but some donors will give progressives pause – such as Ellis Act attorney Andrew Zacks. Independent expenditure committees are under way to promote Lee’s re-election, and they will likewise swamp the fundrace there too. But so far, Leland Yee has been helped by a $210,000 expenditure.
Ed Lee raised over $748,000 in this quarter – most of it with the maximum contribution of $500 per donor – and the list includes a lot of local business owners and entrepreneurs. We have Phil Jaber of Philz Coffee, Judy Bing of Judy’s Café, Gus Murad of Medjool fame
, Nick Bovis who owns Lefty O’Doul’s, and Jo Schuman – producer of Beach Blanket Babylon. Other donors include gay philanthropist James Hormel, former RBA head Joe O’Donoghue, Ann Moeller Caen (Herb Caen’s widow) and Senator Dianne Feinstein.
But it is Lee’s landlord and real estate money that will give him the most trouble with progressives. Maximum donations came from Jim Fabris (C.E.O. of the San Francisco Realtors), Rent Board Commissioner Bart Murphy, Andrew Hawkins of the now-defunct Skyline Realty, and notorious Ellis Act attorney Andrew Zacks. In fairness, these donors have given to others before. Back in February, Dennis Herrera defended taking money from Zacks
– saying his record on tenant issues speak for themselves. Now, Lee will have to respond.
Several weeks ago, I reported that
David Chiu was taking money from landlords – after his controversial vote for the Parkmerced project. We still see a lot of that – four developers at Forest City donated to Chiu – but the District 3 Supervisor has also raised from much of his base in the Small Business community. And with Ed Lee grabbing much of the oxygen from local donors, Chiu got nearly $15,000 – more than 10% of what he raised this quarter – from 41 donors who live in New York. This suggests Chiu is mining personal contacts on the East Coast.
But it’s Leland Yee who is getting more creative about how to deal with San Francisco donors flocking to the incumbent. In August, the Chronicle reported that
Yee had a fundraiser at the Lucky Strikes Casino in Colma. Yee has taken a lot of casino money this quarter – with $500 checks from the Los Alamitos Race Course, the owner of the Crystal Park Casino in Compton, a gaming host at the Hollywood Park Casino in Baldwin Park, and the Vice Chair of the Commerce Casino in L.A. All four casinos are in Southern California. Yee also took a number of donations from Dentist associations throughout California.
As a State Senator, Yee has connections with politicians from across the state – so it’s not surprising (or unethical) that he got help from some of his colleagues in Sacramento. But why is the Merced County Democratic Central Committee – whose official purpose as a County Committee is to register and elect more Democrats in the Central Valley locales of Merced County
– getting involved in the San Francisco Mayor’s race, by giving Leland Yee a $500 contribution?
This weekend, Matier & Ross reported that
Dennis Herrera received maximum contributions from 49ers general manager Carmen Policy, his wife and daughter. But this quarter, he also got checks from retired Judge Bill Newsom (i.e., the father of Gavin Newsom), political fundraiser Wade Randlett and Quentin Kopp – who, like Herrera, has criticized the Central Subway. But it is Herrera’s donation from Thomas Coates
– the notorious landlord who gave over $1 million to defeating rent control, and whom local tenant activists picketed last year, that will give progressives the most pause.
Jeff Adachi raised a respectable $90,000 this quarter for a brand-new candidate – but clearly not enough to deal with what Ed Lee and others have raised. While many of his donors include criminal defense attorneys and his colleagues in the Public Defender’s Office, notable contributors include Florence Fang – matriarch of the Fang family who once owned the San Francisco Examiner and her son, BART Director James Fang.
Of course, all this is what the candidates raised themselves – limited to a maximum of $500 per donor. This mayor’s race will, once again, be completely swamped by “soft-money” independent expenditures – where there are no limits. And while candidates cannot coordinate with independent expenditures, they share some of the same donors.
For example, Committee for Effective City Management – an independent expenditure set up to support Ed Lee – raised $18,452, and got $5,000 from Raymond Lok. The San Francisco resident, who lists his occupation as “retired” also gave $500 to Ed Lee.
In a recent blog post
the Bay Guardian’s Tim Redmond slammed the Committee for Effective City Management for “trying to raise big gobs of unregulated cash to promote Lee.” Ethics Commission filings show that they have raised money in $5,000 chunks – which, in reality, is chump change compared with most third-party efforts.
Compare it with San Franciscans for Jobs and Good Government – another independent expenditure set up on behalf of Ed Lee, by venture capitalist Ron Conway. In this quarter, the committee raised $364,000 – of which Conway contributed half, and Sean Parker
(of Napster Fame) contributed another $100,000. And Pacific Heights matron Dede Wilsey threw in another $5,000.
But Ed Lee isn’t the only candidate to benefit from independent expenditures. Last week, I received a glossy mailer from a committee called “City Residents Supporting Leland Yee.” The piece attacked Lee for switching course on running for Mayor – with the clever slogan “after an eight-month gestation, a politician is born.” Who’s contributing to this committee? AFSCME, which gave $150,000 – with $50,000 from the California Nurses Association and $10,000 from the Union of American Physicians and Dentists.