Just days before a critical endorsement by the state Democratic Party, an allegedly phony document has surfaced linking a Democratic Assembly candidate to the Republican, anti-abortion governor of South Dakota.
The revelation has thrown into chaos what was a fairly quiet race for the Democratic nomination in the 12th Assembly District between Supervisor Fiona Ma and Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District board member Janet Reilly. The candidates are vying to replace Assemblyman Leland Yee.
On Tuesday, Reilly’s campaign revealed to reporters an electronic tax filing on the IRS Web site that listed Ma as a treasurer for Michael Rounds in his successful 2002 campaign for governor of South Dakota. The Web site shows the document was filed in March 2002.
A scanned version of the original paper filing of the tax record, which also appears on the IRS Web site, lists William Floyd Jr. as the campaign’s treasurer, but Ma’s name does not appear.
Rounds’ campaign said Wednesday Ma had never worked for the organization and the electronic version of the document that appeared on the IRS Web site was not the one they submitted to the federal government.
"Ma did not work on our campaign," said Michele Brich, a spokesman for Rounds for Governor. "Her name is not on the form we filed."
Rounds gained national attention in March when he signed into law one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on abortion which will likely be a test for the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Both Ma and Reilly have expressed strong support for abortion rights and an association with the highly conservative Rounds could be a severe blow to a campaign in liberal San Francisco.
Brich said the campaign had contacted the IRS Wednesday afternoon to try to determine how the document came to be posted on the Web site, but has not yet received an answer.
Jesse Weller, a Bay Area IRS spokesman, declined to comment on the Web filing, saying the agency would have to investigate it first. Government officials said it would be extremely difficult to hack into the IRS Web site to change the document.
When contacted Tuesday in Pierre, S.D., Floyd, the Rounds’ campaign treasurer, said he did not recall Ma working on the campaign, but said his position was largely ceremonial and he did not meet all of Rounds’ campaign workers. A host of South Dakota campaign finance records from the period do not list Ma’s name as treasurer either.
Ma, who documents show has only worked on campaigns in-state, vigorously denied she ever worked with Rounds’ campaign.
"I think this is a smear campaign linking me to a Republican," Ma said. "I want to ask Janet Reilly to stop sending false information about me and get back to a clean campaign."
Ma’s campaign said the controversy smacked of "Nixonian dirty tricks" and said someone may have hacked the IRS Web site to post the document.
Reilly’s campaign spokesman Eric Jaye said her campaign had nothing to do with the documents on the IRS Web site.
"We don’t know if the document is accurate or not," Jaye said. "But we look forward to hearing an explanation from the IRS about why it was posted online in 2002."
E-mails obtained by The Examiner show Reilly campaign workers forwarded messages about the link between Ma and Rounds to Assemblyman Mark Leno’s office and NARAL Pro Choice America.firstname.lastname@example.org