manmoney.jpgIf politics were like the high school prom, third-party spending accounts are the fat ugly kid whose out-of-town parents have an unlocked liquor cabinet: nobody professes to like him, but come 2 a.m., everyone’s over at his house quaffing Peachtree schnapps and Triple Sec.

San Francisco’s progressives aren’t big fans of so-called “independent expenditure accounts” because the accounts aren’t subject to the same restrictions as a campaign’s primary account, and are considered by some to be havens for big money from downtown.

The Guardian last week rang that bell, decrying the huge gobs of cash business interests, developers and landlords are dumping into third-party accounts — entitled “Alliance for Sustainable Growth” — supporting moderate supervisorial hopefuls Steve Moss, Theresa Sparks, and Scott Wiener.

But progressives play this game, too, and in a big way. SEIU Local 1021 — whose purple-shirted union members include nurses, teachers and other “front-line” workers — contributed $100,000 to a third-party account that supports District 8 candidate Rafael Mandelman last month, records show.

While still less than the total sums the Building Owners and Managers Association and others have dumped on Mandelman opponent Wiener as well as D6 hopeful Sparks and D10 aspirant Moss, the $100,000 lump sum is nonetheless one of the largest single contributions made this election cycle, and evidence that labor would very, very much like to have Mandelman at City Hall.

And why not? “We early-endorsed Rafael — he’s been at all our rallies and all our pickets,” said Gabriel Haaland, SEIU 1021 San Francisco’s political director.

Both Mandelman and his campaign are prohibited by law from coordinating how the money’s spent with the bosses at the independent expenditure committee (one of whom is Tim Paulson, the executive director of the labor council). There’s speculation, for example, that the Jane Kim campaign is guilty of such coordination.

Not that there’s much need in Mandelman’s case: everyone knows the message by now, and it’s not like Paulson or anyone else needed to consult Mandelman before creating a Spanish-language mailer, which went out last week, attacking opponent Scott Wiener for his opposition to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

SEIU’s big donation “levels the playing field somewhat,” according to Sasha Cuttler, an SEIU 1021 member who is a registered nurse at SF General. And unlike developers, who have huge wads of cash to spare, labor’s $100,000 came from small voluntary donations (Cuttler donates $5 per paycheck to SEIU’s political fund).

For all these reasons, Haaland bristled when this reporter compared SEIU’s $100,000 check to the money going into the third party IE accounts backing Wiener.

“There’s a huge difference between the Chamber of Commerce, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and registered nurses contributing $2 per paycheck,” he told The Appeal.

“To compare the two is a profound misunderstanding. There’s a huge difference between [nurses] and corporate spending. To think otherwise is to have blinders on.”

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  • generic

    With regard to the Kim campaign, it’s not speculation that they broke ethics laws.

    Speculation is a theory or conjecture without evidence.
    There is hard evidence.
    The consultant is part of the campaign.
    The consultant coordinated with an IE.
    Law, broken.

  • generic

    With regard to the Kim campaign, it’s not speculation that they broke ethics laws.

    Speculation is a theory or conjecture without evidence.
    There is hard evidence.
    The consultant is part of the campaign.
    The consultant coordinated with an IE.
    Law, broken.

  • sfrealadvocate

    For Haaland to say that Local 1021 PAC contributions are “better” than contributions to any other PAC is nonsense. They are all made voluntarily, have to be by law, and are never tax deductible. PACs are created to protect the interests of their contributors, whether they are business interests, or union interests. What’s unfortunate for Haaland, his union, and the candidates he/they support, is their inability to recognize that working WITH the business community to increase job growth and local business profitability will INCREASE our local tax base which in turn can support more city services and employment for Local 1021 members. The Alliance for Jobs and Economic Growth is just such a partnership. It’s simple economics: we understand that our city’s business community must make more money before it can pay more taxes, particularly in this tough global economic downturn. What we need to do is stop fighting each other, and start growing our city’s business tax base. You are invited to help, Mr. Haaland.

  • sfrealadvocate

    For Haaland to say that Local 1021 PAC contributions are “better” than contributions to any other PAC is nonsense. They are all made voluntarily, have to be by law, and are never tax deductible. PACs are created to protect the interests of their contributors, whether they are business interests, or union interests. What’s unfortunate for Haaland, his union, and the candidates he/they support, is their inability to recognize that working WITH the business community to increase job growth and local business profitability will INCREASE our local tax base which in turn can support more city services and employment for Local 1021 members. The Alliance for Jobs and Economic Growth is just such a partnership. It’s simple economics: we understand that our city’s business community must make more money before it can pay more taxes, particularly in this tough global economic downturn. What we need to do is stop fighting each other, and start growing our city’s business tax base. You are invited to help, Mr. Haaland.

  • maroney

    To sfrealadvocate: In a democracy that claims to give equal political say to each citizen, having the support of 2,000 nurses, teachers, and other workers should mean more than having the support of ten wealthy developers.

  • maroney

    To sfrealadvocate: In a democracy that claims to give equal political say to each citizen, having the support of 2,000 nurses, teachers, and other workers should mean more than having the support of ten wealthy developers.

  • John Murphy

    “Both Mandelman and his campaign are prohibited by law from coordinating how the money’s spent with the bosses at the independent expenditure committee”

    The San Francisco Tenants Union has apparently made a soft money contribution because they sent out a mailer “NO to Scott Wiener”. The California Nurses PAC also sent out a similar mailer. When I say “similar” I mean that they used the exact same photoshop art of Scott Wiener in their mailers. The Tenants Union is obviously from SF, the California Nurses PAC lists an address in Oakland. Same artwork? Absolutely coordinated.

    Of course, the ad isn’t “Vote for Mandelman”, it’s “Don’t vote for Wiener”, which theoretically distances the ads from Mandelman, but…. Bill Hemenger would be a substantially worse option for a group like the tenants union, and Prozan would at most be a wash. The “person” directing those group’s spending has probably done some internals that pretty much confirm that Wiener is the critical opponent for Mandelman and targeted him as such.

  • John Murphy

    “Both Mandelman and his campaign are prohibited by law from coordinating how the money’s spent with the bosses at the independent expenditure committee”

    The San Francisco Tenants Union has apparently made a soft money contribution because they sent out a mailer “NO to Scott Wiener”. The California Nurses PAC also sent out a similar mailer. When I say “similar” I mean that they used the exact same photoshop art of Scott Wiener in their mailers. The Tenants Union is obviously from SF, the California Nurses PAC lists an address in Oakland. Same artwork? Absolutely coordinated.

    Of course, the ad isn’t “Vote for Mandelman”, it’s “Don’t vote for Wiener”, which theoretically distances the ads from Mandelman, but…. Bill Hemenger would be a substantially worse option for a group like the tenants union, and Prozan would at most be a wash. The “person” directing those group’s spending has probably done some internals that pretty much confirm that Wiener is the critical opponent for Mandelman and targeted him as such.