The San Francisco Chronicle finally got around to covering the story about Sup. Vallie Brown evicting tenants last week, almost three weeks after SF Weekly first broke the news – and after at least two other significant developments emerged to keep the story alive.
The story somehow managed not to focus on the evictions but on what the paper called a “spat” between Brown and challenger Dean Preston – as if Preston’s campaign had created the eviction story. Actually, the story started with research from the Tenants Union, and it was local media that got into the details.
But the Chron is still largely ignoring the big money in the two key races Nov. 5 – the D5 race and contest for district attorney.
And the money tells an important story.
As we have often seen of late, the real money tale is not the long lists of $500 contributions from individual donors to the candidates (although it’s clear that people in the real-estate business are strongly supporting Brown).
The story is what the independent-expenditure groups are doing, and who is behind them.
There are plenty of reasons why an individual might give $500 to a candidate. When industry trade groups, unions, and wealthy individuals give money to an IE, they usually have a pretty clear interest.
So it’s worth noting that, as of this weekend, a committee of the California Association of Realtors has spent $116,000 so far on anti-Preston attack ads. A group called Friends and Neighbors in Support of Vallie Brown has spent $45,000 promoting her candidacy, and while the group has spent more than it has raised (so we don’t know who is going to come in and cover those costs as the last minute) the money so far is coming from IBEW and the SF Firefighters Union. IBEW is the main opponent of the city’s buying out PG&E. The Firefighters Union is close to Mayor Breed, Brown’s biggest ally.
A group called SF Teachers and Working Families Supporting Dean Preston has spent $65,000 on pro-Preston material. It’s funded almost entirely by the SF Teachers Union with some money from SEIU Local 2015, which represents long-term care workers.
So in this race, the teachers and care workers are with Preston and the Realtors, IBEW and the Firefighters Union are with Brown. That gives you a sense of what the institutions with money think about the two candidates.
In the DA’s race, the police unions, mostly the San Francisco Police Officers Association, have reported spending some $650,000 to attack Chesa Boudin. The final total will be more than that – I just saw a TV ad paid for by the POA accusing Boudin of wanting to let murderers out of prison. That spending isn’t yet reported.
Youth and Families Taking Power is supporting Boudin, and has raised $275,000. The biggest contributors are SEIU Local 1021, which represents public-sector workers and has put up $80,000 – and Susan Pritzker, a liberal philanthropist with an interest in criminal-justice reform.
The cops were initially staying out of the race (although the Deputy Sheriffs Association is strongly behind Leif Dautch). But now that it appears Boudin has a chance of winning, they are pouring money into the election. The POA, which is all about locking more people up in prison, clearly doesn’t want Boudin to win.
All of this is public record. It’s easy to find at sfethics.org, which has a pretty robust database that’s easily searchable.
But the Chron in the past has argued that nobody cares about money in politics. The voters are bored by this kind of information, so why bother to write about it?
Except that it’s important.