Allegations of voter manipulation by an independent committee working on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee are being investigated by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
Office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said the investigation was prompted by information sent Friday by the Department of Elections.
Scroll down for video of the alleged incidents.
The investigation comes just days after videos circulated by members of Sen. Leland Yee’s mayoral campaign showed people from the SF Neighbor Alliance helping senior citizens fill out mail-in ballots at a makeshift polling station in Chinatown last week.
Elections Department Director John Arntz said while what the videos depicted “doesn’t look very good,” he didn’t think they showed anything illegal.
The mayor said he fully supports the DA’s investigation, adding that his official campaign has been “100 percent compliant” and “clean.”
But at an earlier news conference with witnesses to the incident, Yee called it a “coordinated effort” to “steal an election.”
State elections law doesn’t allow mailed ballots to be returned by campaign workers. Members of the same household may return ballots if they sign an affidavit.
Yet Yee campaign worker Andy Li said that when he canvassed two apartment complexes earlier this month, he was told by several residents that they’d already returned ballots to their building managers. Li said the residents reported that Lee supporters came into their homes, showed a video about the mayor, then helped them fill out ballots.
One of the buildings — a 60-unit apartment at 1303 Larkin Street — is managed by the Chinatown Community Development Center. The organization’s primary consultant, Rose Pak, and former executive director, Gordon Chin, were instrumental in the campaign to encourage Lee to run for a full mayoral term.
Gen Fujioka, the center’s public policy manager, said building managers are strictly forbidden from “taking part in any electoral activity” and that he has contacted Yee’s campaign for more information about the claims, which he surmised were “based on some misunderstanding.”
The mayor asked the SF Neighbor Alliance to “cease and desist” its activities if the reports are true.
“If we had any control over that group, we would have shut them down a long time ago,” said Lee’s campaign spokesman, Tony Winnicker, adding that Lee also supports bringing in outside election observers, as seven of the mayor’s campaign rivals requested Sunday. “Voting rights are sacred.”
Enrique Pearce, a spokesman for Run, Ed, Run and the SF Neighbor Alliance who wrote and released a 132-page campaign book about Lee, did not return calls for comment Monday.