lee.debate.jpgSan Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said today he has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that donors to interim Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign laundered money in an effort to exceed contribution limits.

Employees at Go Lorrie’s Airport Shuttles, a company based at San Francisco International Airport, made donations to Lee’s mayoral campaign and were allegedly told that they would be reimbursed for their donations.

In response to news reports last week about the allegations, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is also running for mayor in the Nov. 8 election, sent a letter Friday to Gascon, state Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag asking for a criminal investigation.

“Investigations are warranted when credible allegations risk undermining public trust in our local government–and we’ve certainly reached that point here,” Herrera said in a statement.

Gascon said in a statement today that although his office has launched an investigation, “it is premature to form opinions or rush to judgment until an investigation is complete.”

Lee’s campaign last week returned 23 contributions associated with Go Lorrie’s and is offering full cooperation in any investigation, campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

“Mayor Lee has zero tolerance for anyone who breaks the law and demands 100 percent compliance from his campaign and anyone who supports it,” Winnicker said, adding that there was nothing in Gascon’s statement that suggests Lee’s campaign is a target of the investigation.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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