“Alley Cat” Venture Capitalist Taps Coppolas, NFL Coaches For Campaign Cash

joanna.jpgAmong the San Franciscans she wishes to serve as Mayor, self-described “progressive independent” Joanna Rees might not be the best-known candidate — as a venture capitalist Rees stayed outside the city’s political grist mill (if not the local rich person rumor mill). But Rees is certainly the candidate of choice for the glitterati — in San Francisco, Pebble Beach, Atherton, New York City and well beyond, campaign finance records show.

Rees’s donor list is a veritable Who’s Who of captains of finance, real estate investors, influential CEOs and other dirty rich people. There’s also a Coppola or two, two Newsoms and two Super Bowl football coaches included on the list, records show.

“It’s a very impressive list of supporters,” said Dan Newman, a political consultant with Ace Smith’s SCN Strategies, who are handling Rees’s campaign. As to why Rees would be able to tap folks like Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, former 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci, musician Quincy Jones, director Francis Ford Coppola, actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom and PlumpJack executive Hillary Newsom Callan, Newman opined thusly: “It’s really pretty simple: when people meet Joanna and get a chance to hear her vision, learn about her experience, and see her leadership skills – they support her.”

Fair enough. And even though this kind of money — at $500 a pop for $154,000 total — is pocket change for a venture capitalist who boasts of a personal fortune in the tens of millions, it’s sufficient for Rees to earn the unfortunate moniker of “Meg Whitman of the mayoral campaign,” a label tossed around by opposing campaigns that, one would imagine, will be heard more often as the campaign drones on.

Also note-worthy is the fact that Rees’s money is coming from out of town. Out of 345 donors listed on campaign finance records, only 135, or about 40 percent — including folks like Coppola, who has multiple homes (and a bad-ass restaurant in wine country with a killer cocktail list) — listed San Francisco addresses. The rest list addresses like Pebble Beach, New York City, Atherton, Los Angeles and Chicago (and Oakland and Pleasanton to boot).

That, as well as the expected eventuality that Rees will abandon public financing and blow her spending caps — taking $500-plus contributions as well as contributing large sums of money from her personal fortune to her mayoral campaign — could hurt her image with San Francisco voters, said a local political consultant (who is working on a competing campaign).

“She’s not calling neighborhood groups and the usual SF donors and activists for money,” the consultant noted. “SF voters want a mayor who’s going to be accountable to them — and they think that local money equals local accountability.”

That said, should Rees win, we are totally crashing her victory party.

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  • Greg Dewar

    I read in Beth Spotswood’s column that when Matt Baume tried to ask her a question about Muni, her army of minions blocked him from asking the question, Meg Whitman style. Not a good start.

  • Greg Dewar

    I read in Beth Spotswood’s column that when Matt Baume tried to ask her a question about Muni, her army of minions blocked him from asking the question, Meg Whitman style. Not a good start.