For San Francisco’s mayoral hopefuls, campaign fundraising is a bit like making sausage. They enjoy the product, but the process is not something they want on public display.
While campaign finance disclosure requirements show exactly who has given how much money to a candidate, it is much harder to track equally revelatory information about who elicits those contributions. When the 11 primary candidates were asked who “bundles” those $500 maximum donations, most were reluctant or at least careful when talking about their fundraising structure.
Only a few were willing to supply names for members of their fundraising committees or individuals who have thrown campaign parties on their behalf.
Mayor Ed Lee, the biggest target of city insider power-player skepticism since jumping into the race earlier this month, said only that he would “comply with all the rules” and hasn’t decided whether he’ll reveal members of a fundraising committee. In an editorial board interview with The San Francisco Examiner, Lee asked whether disclosure would be required for individuals who raise money for him. When he understood he wouldn’t be required to report that to The City’s Ethics Commission, he said: “To the extent they require me to do so, I will do so.”
Former Supervisor Tony Hall didn’t provide names of anyone helping him raise money, but said his campaign has worked with a professional fundraiser paid to throw parties. Hall said he doesn’t have a structured financing committee and he’ll seek help from “the people” rather than to “cow-tow” to the “clowns that are running this city.”
“I’d rather get $100 from Ma and Pa Kettle,” Hall said, “than say, $500 from five different sources.”
Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the newest candidate in the race, said he’s “literally calling people up” and asking them to contribute $500. Adachi said he doesn’t plan to seek help from a professional fundraiser and declined to name members of his network helping him raise money.
State Sen. Leland Yee and venture capitalist Joanna Rees both said their websites list names of people holding fundraisers, but didn’t provide more detail beyond that. When Rees was asked if she had a financing committee, she responded, “me.”
Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty and City Attorney Dennis Herrera all said they’d be willing to provide information about who raises funds. Ting didn’t mention specific people, but Dufty — the only openly gay candidate — said he’s being helped with fundraisers held by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in various U.S. cities. Herrera mentioned the names of a few people who have held fundraisers on his behalf.
Both Supervisor David Chiu and Supervisor John Avalos named members of their finance committees and characterized them as friends and colleagues from neighborhood groups unconnected to City Hall politics. Attorney Dana Rivera is the chairwoman of Chiu’s campaign, which has reported the most money raised so far. John Keig serves the capacity of a campaign finance committee chairman for Avalos.
San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee chairman and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin was one in a long list of people who threw parties for Avalos, according to the campaign. On Wednesday, Avalos netted an endorsement from the organization’s nearly 30 voting members.
Former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier did not return calls for comment.
Mayoral candidate funds raised from Jan. 1 to June 30:
|Contributions||Public Financing||Cash on hand|
|Jeff Adachi||Yet to file due to late entry into the race|
|Ed Lee||At least $50,000, based on a non-itemized declaration filed Wednesday with the Ethics Commission|
*Figures do not include money raised in 2010
Source: San Francisco Ethics Commission