On Guard! - Page 2

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.

It's in the mail: A flood of campaign material is hitting mailboxes

Lee said he would also support any investigations or monitors that officials deem appropriate. "If it was my campaign, I would fire them immediately because they should not be handling ballots for anyone else," Lee told reporters, later adding, "I denounce those groups that think or say they're for me. If they do the wrong stuff, they should be investigated and accountable for their actions."

The most recent campaign filings by the SF Neighbor Alliance says it has so far spent $135,295 promoting Lee's candidacy, although the group has not yet reported any contributions to the campaign. Among the expenditures was a mailer that said, "Keep Mayor Ed Lee. He has our backs."

Yet as Lee denounces the group and tries to distance himself from it, Pearce and company may find the sentiment to be wishful thinking. (Steven T. Jones, Rebecca Bowe, and Christine Deakers)



I hadn't checked my mail in awhile, and when I finally did last week, out popped my absentee ballot — and more than two dozen political mailers, a flood of campaign propaganda that sought to influence my vote.

For the most part, it was very positive, with some notable exceptions. The biggest cluster were the four fairly effective hit pieces on Mayor Ed Lee put out by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) through two Sacramento-based front groups: City Residents Support Leland Yee for Mayor and City Residents Opposing Ed Lee for Mayor.

Setting aside the deceptive names, the pieces do raise some points that could resonate with San Francisco voters and cut into Lee's lead. "The SF Republican Party is supporting Ed Lee for Mayor. They like his corporate tax breaks," reads one headline next to Lee's smiling face and the GOP elephant logo, on the back side listing popular groups under the headline, "We're NOT supporting Ed Lee for Mayor."

It is true the local Republican County Central Committee voted to support Lee along with Tony Hall and Joanna Rees, and that the GOP supported the tax breaks for Twitter and other big companies that Lee pushed. Shilling for corporate interests was the topic of two other mailers, including a photo of a homeless woman under the headline, "She doesn't qualify for Ed Lee's corporate tax break."

Another one hits the various ethical and legal violations by Lee supporters — a theme likely to be the subject of more mailers to come — by prominently featuring local newspaper headlines including "DA probes Lee campaign donations" and "Boss made us donate to Lee."

AFSCME Political Director Willie Pelote defended the run of mudslinging by saying they plan to offer positive messages on Yee next but, "They are things we think the voters should know about Mayor Lee." The Lee campaign has denied connections to improper electioneering and defended the corporate tax breaks as promoting jobs.

The other Lee hit piece in the batch came directly from Dennis Herrera's campaign. It features an image of Lee as a marionette under the headline, "City Hall Power Brokers Cut a Deal to Make Ed Lee Mayor. But this deal came with strings attached..." It then ticked off several scandals that have sullied Lee — including being backed by Recology and PG&E after publicly praising those controversial companies — closing with "Dennis Herrera For Mayor — No Strings Attached."

The only other mud in the batch, aside from a small swipe at District Attorney George Gascon's ethics in an otherwise positive Sharmin Bock mailer, flew in both directions in the pension reform battle over Propositions C and D.

"The Same Tea Party Billionaires Fighting Unions in Wisconsin Are Behind Prop. D," reads one of three hit pieces put out by the Yes on C, No on D campaign, which was funded by the police and firefighters unions and investment banker Warren Hellman.