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News + PoliticsThe billionaire plutocrats set their sights on controlling SF's Democratic Party

The billionaire plutocrats set their sights on controlling SF’s Democratic Party

Big money from tech barons comes into the local DCCC race—and to support the mayor's pro-police agenda.


The billionaires are putting up big money to try to take over the San Francisco Democratic Party, and we’re starting to see the evidence in campaign filings.

The full data on all of the candidates for Democratic County Central Committee isn’t out yet, but under local law, anyone who receives more than $1,000 has to report it immediately.

Ron Conway, plutocrat, wants to control SF’s Democratic Party.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch, through Wikimedia Commons)

And here’s what we know:

Ron Conway, the plutocrat, has given $20,000 to Marjan Philhour for DCCC, and $20,000 to Catherine Stefani for DCCC. (The Stefani thing is weird, and nothing but politics: If she is elected to the state Assembly, which is highly likely, in November, she will automatically be a DCCC member anyway. But this would allow her to vote on the endorsements for mayor and supervisor in the fall).

Chris Larsen, who is increasingly pouring huge money into local politics, put up $50,000 for Philhour, who also got $10,000 from the Police Officers Association.

Philhour is running for supervisor in the fall, and in that race, contributions under local law are limited to $500. For DCCC, which operates under state law, there are no limits.

There are, as far I can tell from existing filings, no other candidates with anywhere near this kind of money.

Among the strange things here:

On Dec. 6, 2023, public records show, Larsen, the executive chairman of Ripple, gave $250,000 to Yes on E, the mayor’s measure to undermine the Police Commission and give the cops more rights. He listed his address as Antioch, CA. The same day, he gave $100,000 to Breed’s measure to force welfare recipients to take drug tests; he listed his address as “San Francisco, CA, 94531.” That’s the zip code for Antioch. Eight days later, he gave his money to Philhour, listing his address as “San Francisco, 94109.”

That the same strange thing that Conway has done, sometimes listing his address as San Francisco, and sometimes as Tiburon.

I know these billionaires own a lot of homes—and voter registration records show both are registered to vote in San Francisco—but this seems at the very least a bit funky.

Never mind that: The point is that very big money is moving into a race that most voters know little about—because in 2024, the DCCC will have considerable power in the mayor’s race.

The panel controls the endorsement of the local Democratic Party, and in the fall, when turnout locally will be high because of the presidential race and a lot of voters will have less information about local races, the party endorsement will be key.

The billionaires know this, and they really, really want London Breed to be re-elected. So they need to take over the local party.

That’s why Stefani is running: She’s going to be on the panel in 2025 anyway, but they want her vote for Breed in the fall.

They clearly want to see a change in the Board of Supes, too, and giving Philhour big money now helps her get name recognition. And a conservative DCCC will endorse conservative candidates in all of the districts.

I have heard reports that Big Tech and Real Estate are prepared to put close to $1million into the DCCC race, which would be a radical record for San Francisco, and probably the state.

But those are the stakes.

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Tim Redmond
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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