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Former planning commissioner Sue Lee rakes in big bucks from developers with projects she voted to approve

Martin's owner, Patrick McNerney is a Lee campaign donor. Also contributing to Lee is Eric Tao of AGI Capital, which helped finance the Soma Grand development, a project opposed by sustainable growth organizations like Livable City, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF, and the Sierra Club. Lee voted in favor of it.

In 2006, Lee approved lifting the downtown height restrictions from 150 feet to 250 feet for a 189-unit building with ground level retail on Howard Street. The project sponsor, Ezra Mercy, gave Lee's campaign the maximum legal donation of $500.

In fact, her campaign has received thousands of dollars in individual contributions — and according to our analysis, more than half has come from real estate developers, attorneys, and builders, including some who appear frequently before the Planning Commission, such as executives from Wilson Meany Sullivan, CB Richard Ellis, and Millennium Partners.

Lee did not return a call seeking comment.


The same day the spending cap was lifted, Mar alleged the local Democratic Party's name was being improperly used by a new group calling itself the "San Francisco Democratic Club." First reported by Paul Hogarth on the online news site BeyondChron, the club is apparently composed of Democratic County Central Committee defectors who disagreed with the party's endorsements for the Nov. 4 election.

The group's treasurer, Mike Riordan, is also a deputy political director of PG&E's Stop the Blank Check Committee, which is mounting the $10 million campaign against the Clean Energy Act. PG&E gave $30,000 to this new democratic club, the members of which have not been revealed.

Riordan hired DCCC member Tom Hseih's firm to send robocalls in Cantonese to Asian voters urging support for Lee over DCCC-endorsed Mar. The endorsement script referred to the group as the "San Francisco Democratic Party Club." Mar said it was a misleading way to align this new club with the DCCC.

When asked if the club's use of the Democratic Party name and membership to support candidates and issues that haven't received the party's vote was their intention, Hsieh told the Guardian, "Yeah, and you know what? That's covered under the First Amendment."

Sup. Aaron Peskin, who chairs the DCCC and spoke on its behalf in support of Mar at two recent rallies, said, "at minimum, it's misleading. At maximum it's a violation of the party rules and punishable by removal." He said there was a credible argument and evidence supporting Mar's allegation, but that it's something the DCCC would have to deal with in its own house, likely after Nov. 4.