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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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Home Elections Campaign Trail Campaign Trail: Breed, SuperPACs and D8 campaign money

Campaign Trail: Breed, SuperPACs and D8 campaign money

Senior staff at two big developers combined to give Jeff Sheehy $12,500, by far the biggest influence money in the race so far

SuperPAC money has been one of the defining issues of the early parts of the mayoral campaign. Mark Leno and Sup. Jane Kim have both signed a pledge to not only reject but to denounce and distance themselves from any so-called independent-expenditure committees that may wind up supporting them or attacking their opponents.

Sup. London Breed has been a little more subtle in her response.

Rafael Mandelman and Jeff Sheehy with moderator Mirisa Lagos at a recent debate. Sheehy has received $12,500 from senior execs of just two real estate developers — a big chunk of change from companies that do a lot of business in SF

The IE’s are the source of the most dramatic, insidious corruption in SF politics. Because of federal court decisions, IEs can raise and spend as much money as they want, with no limits on contributions. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if it weren’t for the IEs, David Campos would be in the state Assembly and Jane Kim would be in the state Senate today. Both faced withering attack campaigns, mostly funded by Big Tech money, orchestrated by plutocrat Ron Conway, who wanted David Chiu and Scott Wiener, who are more friendly to his business interests.

Chiu and Wiener were big supporters of Airbnb. Campos and Kim tried to more tightly regulate the company. The message his IE attacks sent: If you mess with me and my ability to make money in SF, I will take you down.

Conway has endorsed Breed, and both Leno and Kim have made that an issue.

Tuesday morning, Sup. Aaron Peskin announced he’s introducing emergency legislation to require increased disclosure from IEs and the wealthy donors behind them.  

Breed issued a campaign pledge Feb. 6 that includes the following:

I will not solicit, accept, encourage or coordinate with any independent expenditure effort; and I will denounce any campaigns, independent or otherwise, that attack any candidates in this race.

The first part simply says that she will follow the law: Candidates can’t solicit, accept, encourage, or coordinate with IEs. The second part says she will discourage negative campaigns.

That’s a tricky position. In the past, candidates like Wiener have argued that an ad that points out a candidate’s position on an issue isn’t an attack – even if its framed in the most misleading, brutal way. “We all have to be accountable for our votes,” he told me.

So if you want to be nuanced, you can argue that the attack on Mark Leno by the first superPAC of the season was just pointing out the records of people voting on an issue.

But there’s a deeper reality here. Candidates can’t coordinate with or encourage IEs – but if they really want, they can make it clear that they don’t want to see this stuff happening. And as far as I can tell, she has not “denounced” the first SuperPAC attack on Leno.

If London Breed didn’t want her ally Andrea Shorter to run an IE that attacks Leno and Kim, the superPAC would most likely shut down. Leno just called for that to happen; Breed isn’t likely to join him.

We don’t know who is funding that superPAC, and we won’t know for a while. Nichole Derse, the campaign manager for that committee, says it’s individual, concerned women. Conway says he has nothing to do with it – and frankly, given how toxic he has become, his money most likely won’t go into any of these campaigns.

But that doesn’t matter – he has allies in Big Tech who will give money if he asks them to. That’s how plutocracy in SF works.

I have no insider knowledge of this, but I would guess that at some point soon Leno and Kim will do some sort of joint endorsement. That’s the only way they can avoid splitting the progressive vote and making room for Breed.

The San Francisco Tenants Union endorsed both of them, jointly, without ranking. That leaves room for others to do the same thing. (In the past, observers have often noted that the four major progressive endorsements that make the most difference are the Tenants Union, the Milk Club, the Sierra Club and the Bay Guardian. Milk, the Sierra Club, and the Bay Guardian have not yet endorsed.)

SEIU Local 1021, which represents city employees and has been a major player in the local political scene, endorsed Kim as the Number One choice – but put Breed as 2 and Leno as 3.

City College Board Member Rafael Mandelman, who is challenging appointed D8 supervisor Jeff Sheehy, pulled off an unprecedented feat this week: He got the sole endorsement of both major LGBT clubs, Harvey Milk and Alice B. Toklas. The two have never agreed on a D8 race. That gives Mandelman even more momentum in a race where the incumbent seems to be flailing.

Since the mayor’s race is so short, candidates who filed in January haven’t had to make public their campaign contributions yet. But the race for D8 supervisor started much earlier, and both Sheehy and Mandelman have filed reports with the Ethics Commission for July to December 2017, and they are interesting.

For starters, they both have two committees and have filed two sets of reports – one for the June election, and one for the November election. Since Sheehy was appointed to the job, he has to face the voters as the next possible election; since the D8 seat is up in November anyway, whoever wins in June will be running again in six months.

Mandleman the challenger, raised more money in that period that Sheehy, the incumbent, which is by itself unusual. More: Sheehy’s money is mostly for June ($181,000); he has raised only $38,000 for November. Mandelman raised $165,000 for June – and $59,000 for November.

More striking, though, is that the vast majority of Mandelman’s contributions are below the $500 max; he has a long list of donors giving $25, $100, $250. Most of Sheehy’s donors put up $500.

There’s another element that struck me.

Corporations aren’t allowed to give money to local candidates. So if a real estate developer really likes someone running for office, that company can’t directly help out.

But the employees of a company can donate.

Sometimes, the workers don’t share any interests with the bosses. A unionized staffer at a local hotel may despise the corporation that pays her salary, but if she donates money, she has to list that company as her employer.

But when senior partners and officials at a company all donate to one candidate, it’s worth noting.

The disclosure reports show that top staffers at two real-estate operations – Build, Inc and TMG partners – combined to give Sheehy $12,500.

Fourteen high-level people at Build, which has numerous projects underway or pending in the city, and 11 at TMG (same) put up the maximum $500.

The reason the city limits contributions to $500 is to prevent any one donor from wielding too much influence over an elected official. In this case, around seven percent of all the money Sheehy raised came from people who run two big real-estate interests that do a lot of business in San Francisco.

I saw no similar patterns in the Mandelman filings.


  1. It’s surprising when someone who said he would be a carekeeper mayor breaks their promise and runs, repeatedly…

    I wonder who / what type of people convinced him to change his mind?!

  2. Wow, thanks for this valuable information. And thanks to @Jim Dyer for his inane response to me, which brought me back to a conversation I had left long ago.

  3. Actually, I don’t remember Preston saying these things during the campaign. He mostly kept it positive. But when she throws out lie after lie about her record, it begs correcting. He probably should have gone more negative — it sure worked for Conway/Wiener. Not that progressives get to be negative without getting slammed by the corporate, double-standard press.

    You just have a bug up your ass about Preston because you hate rent control.

  4. In its peak years, SF Weekly would publish a grid of endorsements for candidates and ballot measures. See how 40 groups endorsed, make up your own mind.

  5. Preston said all of these in his campaign for Supervisor, and lost. He didn’t really offer anything but negative talking points. If the D5 voters didn’t go for it, why should the rest of the city?

  6. Tim,

    Why are you continually mocking my good friend, Angela Alioto?

    Her legislation banning smoking from bars and restaurants spread from SF to a good deal of the world and has probably saved a few million people over the last few decades.

    Here’s the shrine she built to our City’s patron saint …


    I wonder if Amy Weiss has been there?

    Go Giants!


  7. Rosh,

    Got low grade beer and fine pot but pretty sure the tequila will be gone by then. Still having trouble with SFGTV reception.

    Any of you have your supposedly ‘live’ broadcast from SFGTV suddenly skip ahead a few minutes?

    I was all set to watch the regular participant who looks like ‘Eliot’ on ‘Law and Order’ condemn SF’s “sodomites” for the thousandth time when the broadcast skipped past him to the next speaker as it often does.

    I blame it on Hillary.

    Go Giants!


  8. The amount of spin in all of those bullet points is crazy. Breed isn’t perfect but man so many of those are a stretch, not negative at all in reality, or just the right choice.

  9. “And as far as I can tell, she has not “denounced” the first SuperPAC attack on Leno.”

    Nope… and it’s pretty clear that AirBnB and the Yimbys created it, as well as this Ed Lee appointee who was the target of an ethics investigation…

    In fact, Andrea Shorter has been previously linked to… Ron Conway, who launched an huge, expensive attack on Jane Kim when he ran against Scott Weiner.

    “In one of his new online videos … The video links Kim with murder — that’s just bonkers.

    Before you break out the pitchforks, note this video is backed by the “We Just Can’t Trust Jane Kim for Senate 2016” committee, bolstered almost entirely by $200,000 from, who else: Conway.

    Conway is a big backer of Kim’s opponent, Wiener, and a noted ally of Mayor Ed Lee.
    The committee also just netted $100,000 from tech billionaire Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.

    So I picked up the phone and asked Conway, “Is this supposed to mean Jane Kim is a murderer?” Conway huffed, “I’m on my way to a meeting,” and then had Andrea Shorter, a political consultant who sits on the Commission on the Status of Women, call me.”

    So, the creator of the supposedly “pro-women” superPAC that just attacked Leno is *really* tight with Ron Conway, and helped back up a previous cheap shot she made against Jane Kim. That’s an odd coincidence, isn’t it?!

    So, when Ron Conway asks her to jump, the creator of the super PAC supporting London Breed says “How high?!”

    No matter how sleazy it gets…

  10. Filet of sole with the ghost of Jack Spade? Are they having more fun than us? Do you have any cheap beer in the fridge?

    I’m still in some sort of polar vortex til next week.

  11. Rosh,

    Went to mayoral candidates’ forum at Womens’ Building last night and place was packed with mostly folks with grey hair.

    What candidate would opt out of addressing 250 motivated voters?

    London Breed, that’s who.


    Cause it was arranged and billed as a chance for Progressive groups to address voters.

    Ask her if she’ll represent ‘all’ the people and she’ll say she will.

    Which will be a big ole lie.

    Tonight Breed is at John’s Grill with the developer crowd.


    I’m drinking strong tequila and smoking fine weed.

    Go Giants!


  12. Not exactly true. I used to rely upon their analysis and info in deciding my vote.

    It used to be “for”.

    Later, it was, for the most part, not. The info in any case was usually more detailed than other outlets. That doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘complete’ info though.

    The SFBG used to run a column with all the endorsements – candidates, props, etc. I wish there were such a column and that it had some historical legitimacy – going backto the Alioto (and even Christopher) years. THAT would be interesting indeed.

  13. Disagree. There are plenty of honest people on the left who have a lot of integrity. It’s just that 48Hills is not among them.

  14. 18 hours later and still no reply from Tim about his financial relationship with SEIU.

    Not surprised. 48Hills has always treated transparency and full disclosure as something other people should do.

  15. The top post on this thread is sfsquirrel’s post listing London Breed’s undistinguished and lacking record after 5 years in City Hall as D5 Supervisor. Not much to show for her constituents and district residents. How can Breed be mayor of the entire city of San Francisco if she can’t manage and accomplish anything in her home district? Just asking.

  16. He said he no longer works for them. He did not say he no longer receives money from them. Since it was the financial relationship that was most disturbing, the distinction is material.

  17. And, it is all true and documented. Breed can’t run on her record. She is running FROM her record. That is why her supporters keep pushing race. It distracts from how awful she is.

  18. Breed, Conway and YIMBY trolls would rather keep the focus on Tim Redmond than on Breed’s actual record after 5 years in City Hall. Anything to distract from the fact that Breed did Ed Lee’s bidding who did Conway’s bidding. Look around you! San Francisco is on fire! Time for drastic change!

  19. Why is this an attack? I was merely pointing out that media reporters need to acknowledge their money streams when they write articles about the people who pay them. George F. Will (WaPo columnist) wrote articles lauding the Japanese auto industry for years…and finally acknowledged that his wife was on Toyota’s payroll. He’s a right-winger, as you probably know. But taking money from powerful organizations (whether on the right or on the left) is wrong. And writing about it is not trolling.
    –I agree with Tim that superpacs have no place in politics.

  20. Well arguably you never really did much work for them. They just paid you a lot of money.

    Are you still receiving any payments from SEIU 1021?

  21. Yeah, it’s time for an investigation into the tax exempt status of this site and the fact Tim continues to use the SFBG brand to influence elections. What kinds of walls are kept between the two entities? Inquiring minds want to know.

  22. It was well known because many people would use it as a checklist. Except that it wasn’t who to vote for..

    Right now it is important because 48 Hills gets tax advantages but in return it cannot make endorsements. So Tim uses the Bay Guardian to skirt that legality while he criticizes others who bend the rules to avoid their fair share.

  23. Also the truth — hard to get around that one. And quite different from the “talking points” you claimed her opponents have. And quite different from a lot of London Breed’s spin on things.

  24. Pretty funny that anyone thinks the Bay Guardian matters any more. I think it exists in Tim Redmond’s mind as a “major force.” Yeah, right.

  25. Also, that record, while not perfect, could probably get her elected.

    She didn’t support the public advocate? The extra layer of city bureaucracy? The one where the voters agreed with her and rejected it?

    Or the anti speculation tax? Didn’t the voters agree with her on that one also?

    And she opposed cutting funding to the police department? I wonder what the voters would say about that one.

    Airbnb…where she supported the reforms that got full time hotel rooms down from a possible 2,900 to a possible 300? (I could link to the City Legislative Budget Analyst reports showing this but it isn’t worth the time because it disproves the progressive narrative of 10,000+ units).

    Tech shuttles? She wanted to keep the system going that thousands used to get to work while the SFMTA pilot program let to an amiable solution? And meanwhile Google paid millions for free fares for disadvantaged youths? That one? Wow. Horrific.

  26. Well, you certainly got one thing right: this is what “opponents say” about her. By which I mean your comment is identical, word for word, to her D5 opponent’s Twitter feed. https://twitter.com/DeanPreston/statuses/950226441081270272

    And from this article endorsing him at League of Pissed Off Voters. http://www.theleaguesf.org/why_were_voting_dean

    Which you’re perfectly allowed to do, if you want, but anyone reading this should know it isn’t the sincerely-held belief of an ordinary San Franciscan, it’s a politically-motivated set of rehearsed talking points.

  27. SEIU’s endorsement (if followed) will equate to a vote for Breed. Breed is likely thrilled with SEIU’s rank selections. As I’ve said for a month, securing second rank transfer votes is the key for a Breed win.

    Bitch-ass move by SEIU .. fuckin chicken shits.

  28. Matt Haney, who is running for D6 Supervisor, took $1000 from Conway during his race for School Board. Guess he’ll be doing Conway’s bidding?

  29. London Breed’s personal story is powerful and amazing. She makes moving speeches about homelessness, the affordable housing crisis and how she was not Ed Lee’s and is not Con Wrongway’s “slave” (her word). But time and time again, she has supported and implemented Ed Lee’s policies that gave Airbnb free reign. Her record also reflects consistent gutting of attempted tenants rights legislation. Also: she voted against legislation that would have helped restrict fraudulent evictions by greedy landlords. And in spite of her speechmaking she has consistently no showed for the 139 families living at Midtown who have been battling the Mayor’s office to stay in their homes.

  30. No, this is what opponents say about Breed. Thanks for asking:

    Refused to support Proposition G, the anti-speculator tax, to deter speculator evictions

    Voted against requiring developers to pay an increased fee to fund transit impacts of development

    Voted against creating an Office of Public Advocate, an independent watchdog over the Mayor and City Hall

    Voted repeatedly against regulating Airbnb, making rent-controlled homes in the city more scarce

    Voted against conditioning a portion of SF Police Department funding on police reforms

    amendments to weaken tenant protections by giving less relocation
    compensation to people being evicted through the Ellis Act

    Voted against regulating “tenant buyouts” which have displaced thousands of San Franciscans

    As Board President, used appointment power to hand control over key board committees to the most conservative supervisors

    Opposed ballot measure to give residents a say over waterfront development

    Sponsored legislation to reduce from 25% to 18% the amount of affordable housing developers are required to build

    to call for former Police Chief Greg Suhr to resign amidst police
    killings and racist text scandal, despite community demands

    legislation that gave huge density increases to developers on
    Divisadero and Fillmore without increasing affordable housing

    Voted against post-Ferguson resolution recognizing racial bias in Police Departments, calling the resolution “divisive.”

    Voted to allow private tech shuttles in public bus stops in violation of state law

    Only supervisor to vote against sunshine legislation requiring supervisors to keep and release work calendars

    Supported realtor-backed slate for conservative control of the SF Democratic Party

    ballot measure to make SF the first city in CA to guarantee a right to
    counsel for tenants facing eviction a “waste of time” As of now, both D8 candidates and every mayoral candidate except the Republicans and Breed have endorsed this ballot measure.

  31. “Focus on the candidate’s record”??? Sounds like good advice. Breed:
    “Affordable housing.” Her opponents: “Ron Conway.” Breed: “Homelessness.” Opponents:
    “Ron Conway.” Breed: “Safe injection sites.” Opponents: “Ron Conway.”
    Breed: “MUNI, emergency response time, preserving communities, expanding job opportunities.” Opponents:

  32. Question: How was Lee “owned” by Conway?

    Ed Lee wasn’t a very ambitious man. Nobody ever heard of him until he was in his late 50s. He was inches away from retirement and an incredible pension. There is no indication that he planned to remain active in his late 60s. He didn’t seem to be actively grooming a successor.Heck, he was shopping in Safeway at 11PM.

    So what is this leverage that allowed Conway to own him?

  33. And we have just lived through a mayoral era where the Mayor of our city was largely owned and influenced by Ron Conway and the Titans of Tech. Time for change.

  34. The trolling and attacks on Tim Redmond are tiresome and come like clockwork. Trolls here hope to deflect a focus on the real concern: Super PAC/Independent Expenditure/Tech/Corporate $$$$ to influence local supervisor races and the current race for mayor. London Breed and her PAC (and anyone else taking big chunks of cash from the Conways, realtors and speculators of the world) continue to do the bidding of their monied donors over their constituents. D5 residents are all too familiar with this pattern of behavior from London. Focus on the candidate’s record. Focus on the campaighn donors. There lies the truth.

  35. Tim, once again, fails to mention that he is on the SEIU payroll and is part of the reason the organization is a “major player.”

    “SEIU Local 1021, which represents city employees and has been a major player in the local political scene,”

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