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San Francisco’s political wonks were treated to a taste of scandal last week, when the Guardian mentioned Da Mayor Willie Brown’s $5,000 donation to political action committee New Day for SF, which in turn spent Da Money on a mailer supporting Jane Kim’s bid for District 6 supervisor.

The controversy in the story — at least in the eyes of the Bay Citizen, who piggybacked on the Guardian piece Thursday and added speculation that Kim “would face an ethics probe” — is that New Day for SF once shared an address with Kim campaign consultant Enrique Pearce’s firm, Left Coast Communications. (Coordination between campaigns and third parties spending on a campaign’s behalf is illegal, see).

And indeed, on campaign expenditure forms filed as late as Friday, New Day for SF treasurer Brent Robinson, a former Left Coast intern, lists Left Coast’s main line as his contact number and a Left Coast Communication e-mail address (the mailer itself lists a 6th Avenue address as the contact; Kim’s campaign office is on 13th Street).

The story was likely planted in both publications by supporters of Kim opponent Debra Walker, a source told the Appeal. That would make sense to us, as another source — God, this is just like high school — shared with us this weekend a second piece of supposedly “incriminating” evidence: a leaflet for New Day for SF, printed on Left Coast Communications letterhead.

Pearce told us Monday that his firm did indeed create the second leaflet in question, but did “so months ago,” well before New Day spent any money on Jane Kim’s behalf. New Day and Left Coast severed ties when the Ethics Commission told Pearce that relationship was a “gray area,” he said. He characterized “Mailergate” (our term, we coined it, fuck off) as “calculated mudslinging… done for a reason.”

“The reason is Jane Kim has picked up a lot of steam,” said Pearce, who noted that Kim’s been kicking butt in fundraising and has thus far yet to benefit from any gigantic wads of third-party cash. “So someone’s trying to make hay when there’s nothing going on.”

Pearce didn’t say who, but you can bet the pot farm that he means folks with ties to Walker.
Ethics Commission executive director John St. Croix is legally prohibited from commenting on pending investigations, or whether or not an investigation even exists. It could be “weeks or months” before any information is made public, St. Croix told The Appeal on Monday. Election Day is November 2.

New Day for SF has spent $9,745 on mailers supporting Jane Kim, according to paperwork filed Monday. That pales in comparison to the $51,000 spent in October by a committee supporting Debra Walker, with which that candidate would appear to also have “close ties,” by the above standard.

A committee called “Friends Supporting Debra Walker for Supervisor 2010 sponsored by labor organizations” spent the cash, according to third-party disclosure forms on file at Ethics. The committee’s treasurer is Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council.

Labor has made no secret of its preference for Walker in her bid to defeat Kim and former Police Commission president Theresa Sparks in the D6 race. And indeed, a visit to the joint labor/Democratic Party headquarters on Howard Street will reveal a raft of literature, available for anyone’s perusal, supporting Walker.

It’s hard to see how one situation would qualify as “coordination” if the other does not. So what’s the big deal? That’s the point: there really isn’t any, as far as The Appeal can tell.

As reported elsewhere in local media, “Mailergate” appears to be nothing more than New Day and Robinson being sloppy with paperwork – if that. In any case, it is hardly enough to sink a candidacy, even if New Day or Left Coast do eventually face fines.

We’re curious to know who’s behind “Friends Supporting Debra Walker,” but that’ll have to wait until the next filing deadline. Until then: to the mudslinging machine!

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  • Greg Dewar

    If we had an Ethics and Elections commission that was available to answer questions in a clear and thoughtful way, this kind of bullshit wouldn’t get either swept under the rug or blown out of proportion.

    As it stands, if you’re a campaign and call up E&E, it’s rare you get someone on the phone. Even if you do, and ask a question, the answer they give is NOT bound by any rules or law – they can pretty much say anything, and if you’re later busted, TS. The only way is to get a written opinion – which may not arrive until the campaign’s over. Needless to say this allows for all sorts of stunts to be pulled.

    As for the cases in question – any consultant worth what they are being paid would not play games like this. Being the general consultant for both a general election candidate AND an IE committee that may or may not one day support said candidate is just asking for the “appearance” of a problem, and it becomes a “proof of a negative ” to make the charges go away. Better to just do one type of client or another, and be done with it. Otherwise there’s no way of knowing for sure what’s what.

    I think it is interesting to see all these people from outside D6 taking an interest in the race with their cash. I wonder why?

  • Greg Dewar

    If we had an Ethics and Elections commission that was available to answer questions in a clear and thoughtful way, this kind of bullshit wouldn’t get either swept under the rug or blown out of proportion.

    As it stands, if you’re a campaign and call up E&E, it’s rare you get someone on the phone. Even if you do, and ask a question, the answer they give is NOT bound by any rules or law – they can pretty much say anything, and if you’re later busted, TS. The only way is to get a written opinion – which may not arrive until the campaign’s over. Needless to say this allows for all sorts of stunts to be pulled.

    As for the cases in question – any consultant worth what they are being paid would not play games like this. Being the general consultant for both a general election candidate AND an IE committee that may or may not one day support said candidate is just asking for the “appearance” of a problem, and it becomes a “proof of a negative ” to make the charges go away. Better to just do one type of client or another, and be done with it. Otherwise there’s no way of knowing for sure what’s what.

    I think it is interesting to see all these people from outside D6 taking an interest in the race with their cash. I wonder why?

  • generic

    CHRIS ROBERTS DECIDES SCANDAL FIZZLES,
    MAJOR NEWS OUTLETS AND ETHICS DEPT DIFFER.

    Fixed.

    This is what happens when journalists decide to go meta and editorialize their bias rather than do actual reporting. The get scooped by their betters.

    The Chronicle skews moderate-right. They think it’s a big deal.
    The Bay Citizen skews center-right. They think it’s a big deal.
    The Guardian skews Shiite progressive-left. They think it’s a big deal.
    Ethics has clammed up, which no, they don’t always do. They think it’s a big deal.

    Know why? Because it’s a big deal.

    The point of this news item isn’t that candidates have a shit-ton of money being spent on their behalf by other parties. That’s legal.
    The point of this news item isn’t that Chris Roberts really, really doesn’t like those other parties. That’s bias.
    The point is that only one candidate in D6 looks to be violating ethics rules by coordinating with said parties. That’s illegal.

    I can draw you a diagram.

  • generic

    CHRIS ROBERTS DECIDES SCANDAL FIZZLES,
    MAJOR NEWS OUTLETS AND ETHICS DEPT DIFFER.

    Fixed.

    This is what happens when journalists decide to go meta and editorialize their bias rather than do actual reporting. The get scooped by their betters.

    The Chronicle skews moderate-right. They think it’s a big deal.
    The Bay Citizen skews center-right. They think it’s a big deal.
    The Guardian skews Shiite progressive-left. They think it’s a big deal.
    Ethics has clammed up, which no, they don’t always do. They think it’s a big deal.

    Know why? Because it’s a big deal.

    The point of this news item isn’t that candidates have a shit-ton of money being spent on their behalf by other parties. That’s legal.
    The point of this news item isn’t that Chris Roberts really, really doesn’t like those other parties. That’s bias.
    The point is that only one candidate in D6 looks to be violating ethics rules by coordinating with said parties. That’s illegal.

    I can draw you a diagram.

  • Greg Dewar

    Um wow. Generic did the hard work.

  • Greg Dewar

    Um wow. Generic did the hard work.