Politics, lies, and e-mail
As the race winds down, Newsom's dirty tricks keep coming

By Steven T. Jones

As the mayoral race hits the home stretch, the deceptions and distortions from Gavin Newsom and his supporters have been coming at a brisk pace.

The fallout from the deal in which unsuccessful mayoral candidate Angela Alioto endorsed Newsom in exchange for being placed in charge of homelessness, public power, and public contract reforms in his administration continued, with some key internal e-mails casting doubt on the way Alioto portrayed the event.

Alioto clearly and repeatedly told the Bay Guardian that Gonzalez had accepted the same deal Newsom took, something Gonzalez firmly denied (see "Behind Alioto's Move to Endorse Newsom," 11/26/03).

Shortly after press time for last week's issue, the Gonzalez campaign unearthed an Alioto e-mail it insisted showed that Gonzalez was telling the truth and that Alioto was not.

"I have offered both candidates the same thing, that I be made vice mayor and head the health department, the power department and oversee corrupt contracts. Gonzalez said no and I accept that. Newsom knows I will do the right thing for the homeless and he may not like that," Alioto wrote in a Nov. 23 e-mail to a Gonzalez backer.

Alioto confirmed the e-mail was authentic, yet she would not admit it was a clear contradiction of her earlier statement.

"The negotiations with Matt you talk about above were in [regard to] an agreement that I would, in fact, have a serious say in those three issues. What exactly do you think we were 'negotiating about?' WE WERE NEGOTIATING THE EXACT SAME THING that you are calling a 'Quid pro quo' with Newsom," Alioto wrote to the Bay Guardian.

The Newsom campaign immediately recognized that the Alioto endorsement was a public relations problem and sought to deny there was a deal, even though Newsom is on videotape extolling the "partnership" and smiling and nodding while Alioto lays out the details.

There's another interesting angle to Alioto's support for Newsom. Alioto personally funded much of her mayoral campaign, to the tune of at least $800,000 – but listed that contribution as a loan, not a donation. So if she's in a powerful position in the Newsom administration, she'd have a much better chance of raising money to repay her personal account.

Alioto told us that, whatever the outcome of the mayor's race, she would continue to try to raise money to pay herself back.

"I highly doubt that I will ever see that money back and quite frankly, I knew that, when I took the risk," Alioto said by e-mail. "Should you want to contribute, however, make the check payable to 'Alioto for mayor 2003,' and send it to 700 Montgomery Street. It just might be the money used to get that kitchen finished, or get ... public power on the ballot."

Starting Jan. 1, Alioto's self-financing would no longer be legal. A new ethics measure becomes law in 2004 that limits self-loans to $15,000 for supervisorial candidates and $120,000 for mayoral candidates.

While the dust was still settling from the Alioto deal, another ethically dubious incident rocked the Newsom campaign. During a Nov. 30 press conference at Gonzalez headquarters, campaign manager Ross Mirkarimi announced the discovery of a fake e-mail sent out urging Green Party members to protest the Dec. 2 speech Al Gore is scheduled to make at a Newsom event.

"Stop Newsom. Stop Gore. Stop the Democrats," read the e-mail, which urged protesters to "Wear Green or wear a costume." The anonymous e-mail, Mirkarimi charged, came from an address linked to the Newsom campaign.

John Shanley, Newsom's spokesperson, didn't return calls seeking comment. The Newsom campaign, however, has vehemently denied responsibility for the e-mail: Eric Jaye, Newsom's campaign strategist, told the Chron that the address "is not owned by us and it's not registered to us. This cannot and should not be linked to the Gavin Newsom campaign."

But that's not true. The original e-mail came from someone identified as "Mary Green" with the e-mail address marymary@spl.at. When Adriel Hampton, San Francisco Examiner political editor, responded to the original e-mail to fact-check it, a message came back, confirming the event was taking place. Both the original e-mail and the response, copies of which Hampton gave to the Bay Guardian, originated from an e-mail server address – mail.gavinnewsom.com – that is owned and operated by the Newsom campaign.

E-mail Steven T. Jones

December 3, 2003