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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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News + PoliticsYes, the (legal) scam Josh Arce is running in...

Yes, the (legal) scam Josh Arce is running in D9 is unprecedented

Nobody has ever raised this kind of (unlimited) money for a DCCC campaign while also running for supervisor.

I am getting criticism over my coverage of the DCCC campaign of Josh Arce, who is running both for the Democratic Party post and for supervisor, and has raised more than $75,000 for the party job in amounts of up to $25,000.

The limit for contributions for supervisor is $500.

Josh Arce has used a legal loophole to be far ahead of others in the D9 supe race -- and it's unprecedented
Josh Arce has used a legal loophole to be far ahead of others in the D9 supe race — and it’s unprecedented

I think this is a real issue: Arce has convinced the union he works for, which tends to be on the conservative side of local issues, to put up a huge amount of money, which he can use for name recognition and positive imaging in the district, while everyone else running has to work the phones like crazy asking for $500. It’s hard to raise $75K in $500 checks. It’s easy if your employer gives you $25,000 checks.

As I said before, there are reasons that we have contribution limits.

So here’s what my critics are saying: Hey, everybody does it.

Debra Walker, who ran for supe in 2010, posted this on Facebook:

This is really hypocritical of 48 hills.

Just a few years back, many of us including David Campos, Aaron Peskin. Raphael Mandelman and myself were encouraged by [campaign consultant] Jim Stearns et al to run for DCCC prior to our supervisor campaigns.

No one, including Tim Redmond, brought this issue up then.

I recall raising this amount for DCCC as did the others mentioned.

Just saying.

Oh, I see. First of all: Because I didn’t do the story back then, it must not be wrong now. The loophole must be okay and I should shut up because other people did it way back when, and the Bay Guardian, where I worked, supported them.


But it turns out I didn’t miss the story. There’s a big, huge, dramatic difference between the campaigns Walker talks about and what’s going on today in D9.

First, she’s wrong: She did not raise “this amount” for DCCC when she ran for both that office and for supervisor in 2010. According to records on file with the Ethics Commission, Walker raised $9,000 in 2009 and $31,000 in 2010, for a total of $40K. None of the other candidates she mentions, all of whom ran for both supervisor and DCCC, raised even half as much as Arce has.

And far, far more important, according to Ethics Commission records, not one of them got a single contribution of more than $2,000. Most of Walker’s money came in $100 to $500 amounts. She had a couple of $1,000 or $1,500 checks, but not that many. She had widespread, grassroots support. Which is what you are supposed to have in campaigns.

David Campos ran for both DCCC and supervisor in 2008. He raised $21,000 for DCCC, and other than a couple of $1,000 and $1,500 donors, it was all checks that would have met the $500 donation limits for a supe campaign.

Mandelman raised $32,000. No checks of more than $2,000.

When David Chiu ran for both supe and DCCC in 2008 he raised $25,000 – and other than $2,000 each from his mom and dad, his donations were almost all at or below $500.

John Avalos ran for both offices. He raised $20,000 for DCCC. Most donations were at or below $500, and none were more than $1,500.

Scott Wiener raised $71,000 for DCCC when he was also running for supervisor. That’s the closest I can find to Arce. But the vast majority of those checks were for $500 or less.

Even when he was president of the Board of Supes and ran for DCCC, Aaron Peskin never got a donation of more than $5,000, and he only got a couple of them.

Lots of people supported those other candidates for DCCC. This is very different.

By any possible standard, what Arce is doing is unprecedented in local politics. If there is any evidence that candidate who has run for DCCC and supervisor at the same time raised $75,000 for DCCC from what amounts to one source – different locals of the politically conservative union that employs him – I can’t find it.

I will repeat: The other candidates in D9 are on the phone working hard to raise money at $500 a pop. Arce starts off with $75K without doing any local grassroots work. It’s not fair.

I don’t care if you’re left, right, or center – if you are gaming the system, and I believe that while Arce has broken no laws, he is gaming the system – then we all ought to be talking about it.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. People who can’t debate on the issues resort to obsessing over funding sources. It’s just mudslinging.

  2. The issue isn’t that 48Hills pointed out this loophole, it’s that it only writes scathing articles when candidates it doesn’t like use it. When that fact is pointed out, suddenly arbitrary thresholds about who used it more suddenly come into play. It diminishes the criticism of the system if it just appears like a political hatchet job.

  3. bigger question – why is any gov’t institution paying for party-only events like “primaries” or voting for the Central Committee of ANY political party? These are private organizations with the right to assemble, let them organize however they want. If they want to use gov’t facilities for their deciding who is on the DCCC or the Homecoming Queen, or whatever, let them pay for it.

  4. You are both correct. However, what we now have for the majority of our politicians are people who become such to peddle their influence, make themselves important and possibly accrue wealth. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina had three houses, one was a huge house on Isle of Palms. Diane Feinstein has used her “services” for developers, business owners (including her husband) and others sometimes at the expense of her constituents. Jesse Helms of North Carolina peddled his influence to become important and wealthy. Ed Lee gave tax breaks to the tech firms to “move” here, many already were here and were staying whether they got breaks on taxes or not. Now he’s facing a budget shortage equal to the taxes that would have been collected. The list goes on and on and on… Nowadays these people who are elected, to Congress and many other political offices, are guaranteed their salaries and benefits for life. Doesn’t matter if you serve two, four, six or more years. That is so out of whack. Do you think Lee, Thurmond, Feinstein, and others would pay more attention to the will of the people, not just getting money to be reelected, if they had to return to private life and make a living after their service? That was part of Jefferson’s vision that politicians realize they must reflect the will of the people they are WORKING for.

    Arthur C. Clarke in “Songs of Distant Earth” said that humanity finally figured out how to have mayors, congresspeople, presidents, prime ministers, etc. Hold a lottery, but you’d have to filter those unable ad unqualified to perform, IE physically or mentally unfit and especially those who want the office in the first place.

    As to the Founding Fathers of the US being wealthy landowners? Yep, they were and the majority believed in slavery, were misogynistic, prejudiced and some even wanted the US to be a monarchy. However, they wrote a document for governance that has held up for over two hundred years, unprecedented in history. It has been bent, twisted and almost broken at times, but it still works. And somebody always surfaces to remind the people this is THEIR country and THEIR elected representatives.

  5. What we have here is a political hit job on a decent human being who has done many good things in the community for many years. You fail to mention David Campos 105.099.01 that he raised. Also this is not reporting this is a scam attack on a man who too little children. You must be ashame of yourself.

  6. David Campos raised $105,099.01 for his DCCC race in 2012 when he was also running for Supervisor in a mostly uncontested race. That is all.

  7. How is any of this unprecedented? Interesting (not really) that Redmond makes no mention of David Campos raising $105,099.01 for his DCCC in 2012 when he was also running for Supervisor in a mostly uncontested race?

    He even spent $17,539 in 2013 AFTER he won reelection on a campaign worker. Coincidence that he also started running for the Assembly that year?

    Does Hillary Ronen know her boss also participated in a legal scam?

    Did Tim Redmond just get owned hard?

  8. Yeah, because Jefferson like many of his colleagues were rich land owners who were independently wealthy. If you want to make money, don’t become a District Supervisor, they make less than some many nurses and bus drivers in this city.

  9. I doubt that Jefferson envisioned a nation of 350 million with cities of 10 million either, so perhaps he can be forgiven.

    But many major US cities do have part-time councillors, including larger cities like DC, LA and San Antonio. Many Bay Area cities have part-time supervisors. I would support our supervisors being part-time. It would give them less opportunity to do harm.

    Does a city of just 800,000 really need 11 full-time supervisors each with their own full-time entourage?

  10. I never thought the day would come when I’d agree with Walker on anything, but she is correct here. Redmond turned a blind eye when progressive candidates pulled this stunt but not cries foul when candidates he doesn’t agree with do it.

    Moreover Redmond didn’t even mention that Campos and Avalos pulled the same stunt.

    There’s another problem here too. Redmond must think the voters are stupid is he thinks they cannot differentiate two different elections. Or that they are not smart enough to not be brainwashed by funded campaigns. So, Redmond, how stupid do you think the voters are?

  11. $ Walker’s trajectory now leads to doubling down on a pretext to accept gaming the system. What does she actually stand for anymore? What did she ever stand for?

  12. It appears that there are all kinds of loopholes in the city’s campaign finance law. Why do they exist and what’s stopping us from closing them? This should be an issue in upcoming campaigns for the BOS.

  13. Thomas Jefferson envisioned citizen legislators that took time off from their lives to hold public office. Majority of career politicians are in office topeddle influence and make money for themselves.

  14. The dual campaigns may not have happened at this level of fundraising, but there have been significant donations. Wiener, for example, received at least one $10,000 check for DCCC.
    But this strategy, true as it has been, is only one part of how candidates for city office game the system to raise outside the $500 limit.
    Gavin Newsom, among others, put a measure on the ballot (Care Not Cash) while also running for mayor. Ballot committee contributions have no limit on the amount or the sources. Others running for other offices have done the same thing.
    Independent expenditure committees sometimes share the same consultant and treasurer as a candidate’s committee, or at least a strong overlap. Anyone remember the Ed Lee Run committee and its spawn that took money from city contractors, run by a consultant who then ran Ed Lee’s own post-election committee.
    There are also candidate-controlled committees like the Ed Lee for San Francisco Committee that can take contributions in any amount from any source — and spend now to elect or defeat other candidates or for ballot measures — all of which increase name recognition and political obligations.
    It’s good that this current case is given our attention, but we need to see the broader issue of pay to play and obligations in a system to puts money at the top of the agenda in deciding who to elect.

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