The so-called "Dump Dean" PAC opposing Supervisor Dean Preston pulled in $300,000 in 2023, but about half of that total comes from a small number of employees of one tech incubator — the one whose CEO sent the “die slow motherf***ers” tweet last weekend.
Supervisor Dean Preston is surely the most hated SF supervisor among the Silicon Valley oligarch CEO class. You’ll recall that in September, Twitter/X CEO Elon Musk said he’d spend $100,000 to defeat Preston (though Musk never contributed that money), and then a week later Musk tweeted that Preston “should go to prison.”
And last weekend, startup incubator Y Combinator’s CEO Garry Tan tweeted the infamous "die slow motherfuckers" tweet directed at Preston and six other SF supervisors. Tan apologized, but may have released some toxic toothpaste that can't be put back in the tube, as five supervisors have since received physical mailers at their homes saying, "Garry Tan is right! I wish a slow and painful death for you and your loved ones."
UDPATE: Supervisor Dean Preston received a threatening piece of mail at his home this afternoon. This the same day several of his colleagues said they filed/will file police reports against Garry Tan over his threatening tweet this weekend. https://t.co/QXFsKF7D4b pic.twitter.com/lkVRMVMgNZ— Aldo Toledo (@aldot29) January 31, 2024
A money machine has been created to defeat Preston in November, in the form of a political action committee (PAC) that informally calls itself the “Dump Dean” PAC. Its technical full name is “Grow SF PAC Opposing Preston for Supervisor 2024,” and it was created by the local tech PAC Grow SF. You might recall this PAC’s creation, as it was reported on by the SF Examiner in 2022 in an article where that paper made the unfortunate decision to place a bullseye target on Preston’s head.
At a time of rising political violence, including the assassination attempt against Speaker Pelosi just weeks ago, the @sfexaminer’s decision to put a literal bullseye on @DeanPreston and run it on their front page is deeply irresponsible and contemptible. pic.twitter.com/Sd9kS3fPWP— Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club (@harveymilkclub) November 16, 2022
Regardless of all that, local political campaigns and PACs were required to release their campaign donations for the calendar year 2023 this week. And looking at the Dump Dean PAC’s donations, we see that about half their $300,000 in donations comes from just a small group of people at Y Combinator, including Tan.
Or more than half of its donations, depending if you count Y Combinator’s co-founder, who no longer works there.
All of these Y Combinator donations came in a late July blitz (These weren’t required to be reported until this week). As seen above, Y Combinator group partner Karl Gustaf Jonas Alstromer gave Dump Dean $15,000 on July 26, in addition to $300 he'd already donated. That same day, Y Combinator partner Emmett Shear gave the PAC $50,000.
And while the $50,000 donation from Jessica Livington lists her as being “Not Employed,” Livingston is the co-founder Y Combinator, though the company roster shows her as "retired."
Plus, yes, that is also a $50,000 contribution from Ripple founder and SF surveillance camera bankroller Chris Larsen on there too.
Meanwhile we also have the $50,000 donation from Garry Tan dated July 27, which Tan was public about at the time.
So if we only count the three active Y Combinator employees, their contributions total $115,300, or 40% of the $289,692 the Dump Dean PAC raised in 2023. If we also count the departed co-founder’s $50,000 contribution, then that makes $165,300 from the Y Combinator crowd, or 57% of the Dump Dean’s PAC contributions coming from people affiliated with Y Combinator.
In response, Preston told SFist Friday that “Dump Dean is just a pet project of conservative multi-millionaire Garry Tan and his pals as they try to buy elections through shadowy PACs like GrowSF. Tan’s one of the largest donors to my opponent.”
It’s unusual for one company to be so involved in a campaign against one single SF supervisor. Though it may be no coincidence that Preston’s opponent Bilal Mahmood had his previous startup funded by Y Combinator.
There is also a Grow SF PAC targeting Supervisor Connie Chan, which calls itself “Clear Out Connie,” though that PAC only raised $70,570 in 2023.
No violence in San Francisco politics — sign ou are petition at https://t.co/kimLl6NIza to demand @garrytan’s removal from @GrowSF and for @NancyTungSF, @JadeTu4SF, @bilalmahmood, @LondonBreed, @Trevor4SF to return donated funds to stop toxic polarizatio in our discourse pic.twitter.com/7NfnNecWuu— Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club (@harveymilkclub) January 31, 2024
But there’s heat being applied in the wake of Tan’s tweets and the subsequent mailer threats. 48 Hills reports the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club is calling on candidates and PACs to return their Garry Tan donations. That report details all of Tan’s donations to the 2024 elections — which are as little as $500 (to Mayor Breed and Trevor Chandler’s District 9 campaign) or as much as $5,000 (to Mahmood’s campaign for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee).
None of those are anywhere near as large as Tan’s $50,000 contribution to the Dump Dean PAC.