Joanna Rees gets acquainted with John Burton at Democratic Party luncheon 

California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, speaking at a San Francisco Democratic Party Unity Luncheon on Monday, had some critical words for Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.

While it may not seem unusual that the head of the state’s Democratic machine is ripping into a couple of Republicans for their lack of political experience, you might find it unusual who was occupying the table front and center while it was happening, none other than the event’s biggest donor, Joanna Rees.

Rees made her money investing in technology. She’s not a Democrat. She has no government experience. And she’s running for mayor.

Some of the attendees at the luncheon who spoke with The Examiner said it must have been uncomfortable for a woman who just gave $2,500 to the Party to listen to Burton rip into rich, tech businesswomen, who aren’t Democrats, have no government experience and were running for major office.

But Rees’ campaign manager Nick Panagopoulos says that wasn’t the impression she got at all. He too was sitting at the table and didn’t interpret Burton’s remarks as anything directed toward Rees. In fact, Rees and Burton had a nice 10-minute conversation after the lunch.

“There really is no comparison between Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and Joanna Rees,” he said.

For one, she has opted into public financing and is not using her own money to finance her own campaign, Panagopoulos said. Also, she has been meeting with the community regularly and is operating a true grassroots campaign.

And her appearance at the Democratic luncheon is no big deal either, he said. She’s a “progressive independent” after all.

We also should point out that virtually every candidate for political office in San Francisco was at the event.

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Brent Begin

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