The billionaire's mayor - Page 3

Mayor Ed Lee calls himself a progressive — but rich, powerful conservatives are funding his campaign

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As part of their efforts, McLear said, the IE had conducted a "virtual precinct walk" developed by a Silicon Valley tech company called Votizen, which utilizes social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about a candidate. Votizen was listed as part of Conway's investment portfolio in a document published by Business Insider. Zynga and Twitter, two companies benefiting from tax cuts spearheaded by Lee, were also listed in Conway's portfolio.

Conway's IE is only one of several that have sprouted up apart from Lee's official campaign. Another one, the Committee for Effective City Management, drew financial support from city contractors or close affiliates of city vendors. Raymond Lok, who listed his occupation as retired, gave $5,000, while another $5,000 flowed in from 4U Services, a New York based company. A public records search revealed that Lok is related to Melanie Lok, president and CEO of mlok Consulting, who contributed the maximum $500 to Lee's official mayoral campaign. Melanie Lok listed her occupation as "homemaker" — even though, as the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, her company holds a contract with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) for an invoicing system upgrade worth at least $132,000. (Lok's odd word choice for her occupation may not be an isolated case. A total of $38,000 flowed into the coffers of Lee's official campaign from 76 "homemakers," while another $7,500 was contributed by 15 "housewives.")

4U Services, which also does business as Stellar Services, holds a city contract for the same SFPUC project that mlok was tapped to work on, worth nearly $92,000. Lok's consulting firm also does business with Kin Wo Construction, a company that contributed to Lee's campaign and Brown's reelection campaign in 1999 — and has been awarded multiple city contracts.

Kin Wo Construction president Florence Kong also contributed $3,000 to Run, Ed, Run. That campaign, which materialized this past spring to encourage Lee to run and drew scrutiny from the city's Ethics Commission, was driven by Rose Pak, a consultant for the San Francisco Chinatown Chamber of Commerce whose connections with the business world have imbued her with tremendous influence.

And some of the same powers behind the corrupt and anti-progressive Brown administration are Lee backers: Run, Ed, Run accepted $34,715 in contributions from 16 individuals who contributed to Brown's reelection in 1999, either themselves or through companies they owned, representing about 70 percent of the total contributions.

Another IE called the San Francisco Neighbor Alliance , which has yet to reveal its financiers, produced a biography of Lee written by Run, Ed, Run consultant Enrique Pearce and distributed to voters. It's a violation of election law for an official candidate campaign to coordinate with a third-party committee, but the unauthorized biography contains photographs, anecdotes, and other details of Lee's personal life that would seem difficult to unearth without the candidate's help.

Questions surrounding contributions to Lee's official campaign spurred a criminal investigation by District Attorney George Gascon last week, following Bay Citizen reporter Gerry Shih's article detailing how airport shuttle drivers were urged by managers to make maximum contributions to Lee in exchange for cash reimbursements. According to a campaign finance document detailing contributions since Sept. 24, just 54 percent of the donors to Lee's official campaign were San Francisco residents. Among those who made maximum $500 contributions were students, servers, parking garage attendants, cashiers, and a nanny.

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