Lee hit with voter tampering allegations and negative mailers, but he dodges questions about a homophobic colleague -- and more news you need to know this week.
STEALING AN ELECTION?
Mayor Ed Lee is again being dogged by allegations of unethical and possibly illegal conduct by supporters of his campaign, this time involving a surrogate group that was reportedly helping voters in Chinatown fill out their ballots using plastic stencils and sometimes even marking them and taking possession of them.
The incident was reported over the weekend by Bay Citizen and the San Francisco Chronicle, which quoted Elections Chief John Arntz as saying it was unclear from video shot by witnesses whether anything illegal had taken place, but that he has referred the matter to the District Attorney's Office for investigation.
The DA's Office is already investigating allegations that employees of GO Lorrie, a San Francisco International Airport shuttle service that recently received a favorable ruling by airport officials, were directed by managers to give the maximum $500 donation to Lee, for which they were reimbursed by the company. That would be illegal.
The latest incident involves Elections Code Section 18403, which makes it illegal for "Any person other than an elections official or a member of the precinct board who receives a voted ballot from a voter or who examines or solicits the voter to show his or her voted ballot." This section also makes is a crime for independent expenditure groups to take possession of a completed ballot. Witnesses say both things happened when SF Neighbor Alliance, ran a streetside voter assistance operation in Chinatown.
That group is run by Enrique Pearce, whose Left Coast Communication has been working for and coordinating efforts with three other IEs supporting Lee. Pearce also wrote The Ed Lee Story, a book that features Lee's personal anecdotes and photos.
Pearce worked with longtime Lee ally Rose Pak, a consultant with the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, to create Progress for All and the "Run Ed Run" campaign that persuaded Lee to break his pledge and run for a full term.
Lee's campaign has denied any connections to the groups working on his behalf. "I know the video shows them wearing Ed Lee for Mayor shirts, but that has nothing to do with my campaign at all. They are these independent expenditures. We have no knowledge of what they're doing or who's leading them. We have no connection or communications with them. We're not supposed to, by law, so we have not," Lee told reporters after a campaign event where Lee announced his endorsement by former Mayor Gavin Newsom.
But those claims have rung hollow for competing campaigns, which accuse Lee's supporters of trying to rig the election and have called for investigations and federal election monitors to be brought in. Jeff Adachi, David Chiu, Dennis Herrera, Leland Yee, John Avalos, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Joanna Rees all signed a letter seeking state and federal oversight.
Yee held an Oct. 24 press conference on allegations, showing video and translations from Cantonese of volunteers telling voters, "If you haven't turned in your ballots, we can help." Yee showcased two Yee campaign volunteers who said they had knowledge of what he said was an effort "orchestrated and coordinated to steal an election."
One was Andy Li, 21, who said he met "two to three" Chinese senior citizens who handed their ballots over to their housing manager because they needed help reading. Li quoted one saying, "I voted already. I turned it into my manager without knowing who I voted for." The other, Linda Dudley, said she saw Lee supporters outside a grocery store filling out ballots for elderly Chinese voters, telling reporters, "What I see is not right."