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Monday, November 7, 2011

Adachi Campaign Alleges Lee Door Hangers Violate Campaign Finance Law

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Ed Lee
  • Ed Lee

Interim Mayor Ed Lee is facing new allegations of wrongdoing on the eve of the election, capping a slew of ethical complaints that has dogged his campaign this fall.

Public Defender and mayoral contender Jeff Adachi put out a press release this morning publicizing a complaint filed with the San Francisco Ethics Commission this morning by former Ethics Commissioner Paul Melbostad. The complaint asserts that door-hangers distributed by Lee's campaign over the weekend violate campaign finance law.

Specifically, Adachi's campaign claim the Lee flyers illegally endorse a number of ballot initiatives. The city's Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance states, "Contributions solicited or accepted under this Section for one candidate shall not be expended for the candidacy of any other candidate for local, state or federal office, in support of or opposition to any measure."

"This is expressly prohibited by law and constitutes a blatant violation of the City's ethic laws," Adachi said in a statement. "This violation constitutes irrefutable proof that Ed Lee is using his $2.6 million dollar war chest to knowingly and deliberately violate our City's campaign ethics laws."

Lee campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker said the campaign had consulted with attorneys and that the door-hangers were legal, since they served principally as marketing for Lee and stated his positions on ballot initiatives as a secondary endorsement. He characterized Adachi's complaint as a low blow to Lee on the eve of the election.

Jeff Adachi says door-hangers like this are illegal
  • Jeff Adachi says door-hangers like this are illegal

"It's almost entirely about the mayor's race, and has his position on ballot measures," Winnicker said of the door-hangers. "This is a final, last, desperate attack. A lot of these guys are taking a low road to defeat down to the last day here."

He also called Adachi's attack hypocritical, asserting that the public defender's campaign has often conflated his mayoral aspirations with his positions on ballot initiatives supporting pension reform.

Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix declined to comment on the complaint. "We cannot confirm, deny or discuss investigations," he said.

The Lee door hangers advocated a "yes" vote on Prop. C, a pension-reform measure supported by Lee and labor leaders, and a "no" vote on Prop. D, a dueling initiative crafted by Adachi. It also endorsed Prop. B, a street-repair bond, and Prop. G, a measure increasing the local sales tax.

Over the past month, the Lee campaign has faced multiple accusations of misconduct, including two alleged episodes of money-laundering by donors. These criticisms don't seem to have had much effect on voters, however, as Lee enjoys a commanding lead in the polls heading into tomorrow.

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Peter Jamison

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