Guardian editorial: The DA and mayoral corruption

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EDITORIAL The indictments of two executives of an airport shuttle company on charges of laundering campaign money are, in themselves, a rarity and something to celebrate: the district attorney of San Francisco is actually attempting to enforce the laws against political corruption. That's unusual in this city, and worthy of note.

But at this point, the entire sum total of prosecutions involving the scandal-ridden campaign of Mayor Ed Lee amounts to a pair of cases against people who made what appear to be illegal contributions. As of today, the message that's being sent is that nobody in the Lee campaign did anything wrong. And that seems a little bit curious.

Lee's late entry into the race — after he'd promised for months not to run — and his refusal to abide by the rules of public financing forced his supporters to raise a large amount of money very quickly. There were so-called independent expenditure committees collecting donations and running parallel campaigns that, by law, should have been entirely distinct from Lee and his official effort. We've always been dubious about the supposed lack of coordination.

Then there were the well-documented instances of irregularities serious enough that every other candidate in the race asked for state and federal monitors to watch the election. Several eyewitnesses told local reporters that they saw volunteers for one of the supposedly independent groups filling out absentee ballots for voters, using a special template that ensured the votes would go for Lee. Some said they saw ballots being collected at a makeshift voting booth. In a video provided by the campaign of State Sen. Leland Yee, it appears that volunteers were both filling out ballots and placing them in bags — both clear violations of law.

Gascon's announced investigations of all the allegations — but more than three months later, nothing has come of it. His office won't confirm or deny whether investigations are ongoing or whether any further indictments may be forthcoming. But at the Chinese New Year Parade, Chinatown powerbroker and Lee ally Rose Pak announced that she had heard Gascon was investigating her.

There's been plenty of time to collect evidence, and Gascon has a responsibility to let the public know, as quickly as possible, what's happened to the rest of the allegations. If everyone in the Lee campaign is really innocent, and none of the independent groups supporting the mayor did anything wrong, he should say that, and present the evidence.

It doesn't help Lee, the city, or the integrity of the voting process to have these cases drag out. Gascon needs to conclude them, expeditiously.

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Comments

Ed Lee still refuses to disavow the corrupt antics of Planning Conmissioner Michael Antonini who is bankrolling a law suit in Santa Clara against the 49er Stadium.

Posted by James Rowen on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 12:24 am

I hear that the residents of the three Ping Yuen Gardens buildings in Chinatown...are thinking that their days are numbered..... The rumors are that the SF Housing Authority will sell the buildings to Hong Kong Developers, to tear down and build highrise luxury condos.

I wonder where the Housing Authority will find new homes for all the
Ping Yuen residents.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 10:04 am

to make sure no miscarriage of justice occurs in that terribly important case. Meanwhile, on the Lee election campaign's alleged antics - The Guardian wants justice and it wants it EXPEDITIOUSLY.

The cognitive dissonance issuing from Portrero Hill can at times be completely disorienting.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

I don't remember the Guardian advocating the Mirkarimi investigation proceed slowly. The Mirkarimi's are anxious to bring this to trial as soon as possible according to the media.

The shadow organization behind Ed Lee, not so much.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

They just want him to get off for no better reason than that he's a lefty.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

Wrap up the invetigation and clue us (the public) in. We have every right to know what happened to the rest of these allegations. It is clearly in the public interest (and we pay the DA's salary). No more footdragging or excuses!

Posted by Karina on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

Ed Lee knew that he had absolutely no chance whatsoever in the Mayor's race unless he risked his entire campaign, his reputation and perhaps his personal freedom by soliciting illegal donations. And then, just to be sure, he sent those kids out to Chinatown to stuff the ballot.

He had no choice, he knew that he either had to do some serious cheating or watch the Avalos juggernaut mushroom into an 80%+ landslide.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:05 am

margin of victory was so large that any discrepancies in his campaign made zero difference to the outcome.

He got more than 50% more votes than his nearest rival in the end.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 7:01 am