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.