President Obama might be struggling to raise dough, but I can think of one guy, a man who's facing a lot less opposition, who isn't. You guessed it! I'm talking about San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who despite running a thus-far unopposed campaign to keep his job in Room 200, is pulling in some pretty damn big bucks.
According to the Chron's Matier and Ross the Lee campaign is expected to disclose that they've collected around $625,000 when they file reporting documents today, which is a lot of money for a guy who, at least so far, isn't actually running against anyone.
And we haven't seen the best/worst (depending on your POV) yet, as "the campaign will ramp up in earnest starting this month," they report.
Meanwhile, however, Lee has been doing "almost daily meet and greets, often at $500 a head." Those checks are adding up, apparently!
Another big chunk of that dough is comprised of that thick stack of $500 checks Rose Pak handed to Lee last month, but in an op-ed published by the Chron this weekend, it's implied that "gaping loopholes in the city’s campaign laws" might account for some of Lee's other lucre.
One time Agnos staffer and eternal gadfly Larry Bush has apparently gotten over his disgust with the SF Chronicle's alleged real-estate conspiracy that led to their support of Lee for Mayor (to be clear, the conspiracy is Bush's allegation, not mine or SFist's) and penned a Sunday Open Forum contribution for them entitled "Time for San Francisco to close pay-to-play loopholes."
In the piece, Bush notes that at present:
- The district attorney, city attorney and mayor can accept contributions from companies and individuals facing prosecution for misdeeds ranging from criminal acts to serious violations of laws on development, safety or hazardous materials. The alleged violators can donate to these officials while the criminal and civil actions are in progress.
- Corporations can’t give to candidates’ or officeholders’ election committees — but they can give to an officeholder’s committee that bundles money for other campaigns.
- City contractors can’t give to officeholders who might decide on their contracts, but they can raise money for those same officials.
- Developers account for more than 90 percent of all City Hall influence peddling, but unlike contractors, they can donate to officials who decide on their applications. Fifteen years ago, 83 percent of voters approved the “Taxpayer Protection Act” banning contributions and gifts from those who can receive a public benefit, but the Ethics Commission quietly slid in a repeal two years later by hiding it in another “reform.” The ban applied to leases, variances, tax abatements, franchises, land sales and more.
- Contractors, developers, lobbyists and other interested persons can pick up the costs for the mayor or other city officials to fly and stay in premium hotels. Mayor Ed Lee, for example, reported gifts of $10,000 for a three-day jaunt to Paris, including from Ron Conway's family foundation. A $20,500 10-day trip to China drew contributions from Uber, Airbnb, real estate agents, lobbyists and others whose primary interest is in the mayor’s decisions in San Francisco, not China.
Well, that sure sounds bad. But given all the questionable dogs with whom Lee could "ethically" be lying, there's one dog who apparently just chose to lie — our friend Greg Gopman, the start-up guy who once called homeless folks "hyenas" and now wants to hold a town hall to see what can be done about/for them.
Gopman, the Chron's Heather Knight reports, claimed that he had a big talk with Lee about his homeless concerns. The mayor's people, however, said that wasn't so.
“We took a walk on Mid-Market together and spoke on things...He explained to me that helping the homeless was always one of his big goals before he got into office and something he regrets he hasn’t been able to do more with,” Knight quotes Gopman as saying.
However, according to Lee spokesperson Christine Falvey, "Lee was taking a merchant walk on Mid-Market when Gopman spotted him from afar and approached to exchange greetings. That was it," Knight says.
Hmm, maybe someone needs to tell Gopman that he's only going to get Lee-meeting-bragging rights if he comes up with $500, first? Because if what M&R and Bush are saying is true, time with The Mustache don't come without a price, baby. As a start-up guy, Gopman should get that, right?