But What Do Moritz, Heyman Want in Return?
In attempting to qualify a pension reform law for the November ballot, Public Defender Jeff Adachi has had nine weeks to collect 44,000 valid signatures from voters — a “Herculean task,” he says — and none of the usual help with which to do it: none from labor unions angry about the possibility of contributing more money out of their weekly paychecks, and none from city politicians unwilling to anger the unions.
But he does have money — and lots of it, and more than the roughly $2.50-$3.00 per signature needed to qualify, thanks to a wealthy San Francisco couple making what appears to be their first foray into local politics.
A pair of wealthy Google investors wrote Adachi two checks for a total of $150,000, as the Examiner first reported. Sequoia Capital principal Michael Moritz and his wife, novelist Harriet Heyman — two initial investors in Google as well as huge donors to Barack Obama’s presidential bid — each wrote Adachi a $75,000 check in mid-June, according to campaign filings.
Adachi says he didn’t know the couple prior to asking them for money, but arranged a meeting after identifying them as both sympathetic voters and likely donors.
“We hadn’t raised enough funds to gather the signatures,” Adachi told The Appeal this week, “and so we had to look for donors who could fund a large part of the campaign in a very short period of time.”
“I didn’t know them, we had no prior relationship before” hitting Moritz and Heyman up for cash, Adachi said. “I contacted them, we met, and I made my case as to why we should do this. They asked me some questions, and then agreed to support it. That’s how it came about.”
Why, exactly, would a billionaire care about pension reform? Moritz did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages left at his Peninsula office.
Could perhaps Moritz and Heyman be playing kingmaker, and their donations be seen as an early message that Adachi could enjoy generous financial backing in a bid for mayor? This nothing but speculation, as Adachi dodges every question on higher aspirations, saying he is focused on nothing but the now.
Venture capital is an uncommon but not unusual player in the political arena, according to consultants. Maybe it’s a lawyer thing: City Attorney Dennis Herrera was the beneficiary this year of a $20,000 check from Silicon Valley high-roller Ronald C. Conway, records show.
What is clear is that cash continues to rule everything around us.