Shady financial dealings mar the "Run, Ed, Run" campaign

Behind the cute campaign posters lurk some shady characters with a financial self-interest in keeping Mayor Ed Lee in office.

Not only do the groups behind the campaign urging Mayor Ed Lee to run for mayor get lucrative city contracts, sometimes with Lee's help, but at least one of the companies has also made direct payouts to Chinatown power broker Rose Pak, who arranged to place Lee in the Mayor's Office and has been coordinating the campaign to keep him there.

This latest revelation, from documents uncovered by the Guardian, comes as other local media outlets have been exposing the financial self-interest that Pak, former Mayor Willie Brown, and their allies have in urging Lee to break his word and run for a full mayoral term, including a devastating front page article in today's Chronicle.

Reporter John Cote writes that Progress for All, the group behind the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign, “has been bankrolled almost entirely by a small group of politically connected individuals, some of whom have received millions of dollars in city contracts in recent years.” Among them is Robert Chiang, owner of Chiang CM Construction, which has received millions of dollars in city contracts despite lawsuits and rulings by regulators alleging that the company violated a variety of wage laws.

Chiang CM has also paid Pak personally at least $10,000, according to her tax return form that she filed with the city back in 2002 when she bought a Rincon Hill condominium for half-price through a city affordable housing program. The tax form listed that payment under “miscellaneous income,” along with $12,000 from Emerald Fund, the politically connected developer of the project, “an apparent violation of regulations governing the distribution of the discount housing,” according to an Examiner article at the time (“Affordable-housing flap,” 2/24/03). But the Brown Administration, which approved Pak's purchase of the condo, refused to take any action against Pak, a close ally of both Brown and Lee.

We reached Pak on her cell phone to discuss her financial ties to Chiang CM and what they paid her for, and after we explained our findings three times, she said, “I don't remember,” and hung up the phone. When we called the company for comment, we were told “nobody is available to speak on that right now.”

More recently, the Examiner has reported on the millions of dollars in city contracts that Lee has helped steer to other key Progress for All leaders, including the Chinatown Community Development Center, whose executive director, Gordon Chin, also leads Progress for All. In addition to its city contracts, documents obtained by the Guardian also show that on Dec. 10, 2010, CCDC entered into a contract with Central Subway Partners – which is building the Central Subway project long pushed by Pak and Lee, but criticized as an overly expensive boondoggle by many transit activists – to be paid up to $810,000 for unspecified services that “will be issued on an Annual Task Order basis.” Chin hasn't yet returned a Guardian call for comment.

The Chronicle also broke the story about Pak urging Recology – which just last month was awarded a lucrative city contract (with Lee's support) giving it a monopoly over all aspects of waste management in the city – to improperly have its employees work for the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign. And the Bay Citizen has also exposed the financial self-interest of Progress for All backers, which Judge Quentin Kopp and local Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin have separately called for prosecutors and regulators to investigate.

“Unlike all other candidates who must abide by the strict $500 contribution limit and source restriction (no corporate, union or City contractor money), Progress for All has been able to raise unlimited amounts from any source, making it easy to amass large sums of money for its efforts,” Peskin wrote in a July 28 letter to Ethics Commission director John St. Croix, requesting an investigation. The Ethics Commission is scheduled to discuss Progress for All at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Despite her considerable power and influence – including arranging regular trips to China for public officials, including Lee and Board President David Chiu – Pak's 1999 tax return indicated she had an adjusted gross income of just $31,084. On her application, Pak reported a $60,000 income in 2002 as a “self employed consultant,” yet a whopping $73,414 in her checking account.

Although Maggie LaRue, the inclusionary program manager, wrote Pak a letter on June 17, 2002 challenging the “inadequate documentation” of her income in the application, the Mayor's Office ultimately approved her purchase of a swanky two-bedroom apartment at 400 Beale Street for just $300,000, although it was valued at $580,000.

Although Pak seems to have fairly steady income from the vague consulting work that she does, a request for information from the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector indicates that she doesn't have a business license and hasn't paid any local taxes, even though city laws require a license from any “entity engaging or about to engage in business for seven or more days a year in San Francisco.”

Lee's office has consistently denied knowledge of or connections to the Progress for All campaign, although the Chronicle has reported that Lee does plan to get into the mayor's race, probably next week. The deadline to file for a run is Aug. 12.


Sorry Artor,

I usually avoid Arthur.

However, the subject of the original article of this thread, and Arthur's getting 7,000 bucks from a mayoral administration that Ed Lee was a central part of, is unfortunately, quite relevant to this discussion, and bore broaching...

I promise

I'll keep it to a minimum ;)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

Me too. ;)

Posted by Harry on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

Greetings Eric and Harry. Thank you both very much for your civil and intelligent response. My comment follows to both of you:

I understand your reasoning for writing your comment. It was fascinating to read both of your comments, which presented most insightful and valuable information in a sensible and intelligent manner.

Thanks for being reasonable.

Posted by Artor Evons on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 11:54 pm

Wow, this crew is going to be totally wiped out by Ed Lee. They have no idea of how to conduct a campaign that speaks to the voters.

Whether an Ed Lee victory is a good thing is another matter. Maybe so, maybe not.

But with characters like these on the other side, how can he lose?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

Same old trolls and trollops. Howdy Meatlock, Matlock, Snippy, Snappy, Arthur, Ruthie; ad nauseam. Are you and your T-Party douche bags content with an AA+ rating, or do you wanna dump us deeper in the kazi. Just curious.

Posted by Pat Monk.RN. on Aug. 06, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

Good morning Bay Guardian,

This is a good place to post a link to an interview I did with Matt Gonzalez yesterday on the coming election. Matt's picks and his reasoning will surprise many.

go Giants!


Posted by Great letter to Chron on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 6:02 am

"Matt's picks and his reasoning will surprise many."

- h

The model of SF progressivism as a fortress of stony dogmatism, which prevailed when Chris Daly led our local progressive sect, is crumbling.

Stony fortresses have trouble adapting to fluid changes. These require adaptability, intelligence, and creativity.

There's a message here for the Ayatollah Brugmann, his dogma-enforces, the Milk Clubbers, the Greens, the ex-Greens, and the character assassins on this website.

"All things flow. Nothing stays."

- Heraclitus of Ephesus

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 9:23 am

The ad hominem diversions in this thread bring to mind the same tactics used by opponents of Gavin Newsom when he ran for mayor, the opponents of Care Not Cash, and the opponents of Prop L (the Civil Sidewalks Law).

These tactics failed in each of these cases.

A better approach is to stay focused on the issues, assessing the pluses and minuses in each case, and forgo attacks on the motives, character, and personal lives of other participants in the debate.

This approach is better because it leads to a clearer understanding of the issues and avoids having the discussion race off into a cycle of mutual recriminations.

This approach is also not self-defeating, like the ad hominem tactic, which often alienates potential supporters, as happened with the opponents of Newsom's mayoral bid, Care Not Cash, and Prop L.

Let's act like adults.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 9:00 am

Thanks, "Great Letter to Chron" for the info about Matt. I voted for the old Matt for mayor and for vice president. I would not vote for the new Matt who's in the process of re-inventing - himself - it seems. He excuses and justifies his support of Gascón by saying, "He’s got his issues." Yeah, doesn't he though! That can be the excuse for "supporting" anyone. Nader has already said he's not running again. He said that 2-3 weeks ago. I was disgusted to read what I had time to read of what Matt said. But I suppose it's predictable these days. More and more people are joining in the race to the bottom.

Left = Right
Peace = War
Hate = Love

Posted by Jorge Orwell 1984 on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

Thanks, "Great Letter to Chron" for the info about Matt. I voted for the old Matt for mayor and for vice president. I would not vote for the new Matt who's in the process of re-inventing - himself - it seems. He excuses and justifies his support of Gascón by saying, "He’s got his issues." Yeah, doesn't he though! That can be the excuse for "supporting" anyone. Nader has already said he's not running again. He said that 2-3 weeks ago. I was disgusted to read what I had time to read of what Matt said. But I suppose it's predictable these days. More and more people are joining in the race to the bottom.

Left = Right
Peace = War
Hate = Love

Posted by Jorge Orwell 1984 on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

Jorge Orwell,

The cornerstone of SF supervisor politics is to assume we have D-5. It's the most Progressive district. If Ross wins the Sheriff's race then Ed Lee will appoint the next D-5 supe and odds are it will be London Breed. No sitting district supervisor has been defeated in this new era (since 2000). Incumbency is everything and Breed would likely have a 9 year run were Ross to leave.

We had the same dilemma when Sandoval decided he wanted to be Assessor. Newsom would have certainly appointed Asha Safai. But, we adopted a policy of benign neglect on Gerardo's Assessor campaign and it worked. We got Avalos to succeed Sandoval and then we all backed Sandoval in his successful run for Superior Court judge where he's doing just fine thank you.

Giants win and I have tickets for tomorrow nite!


Posted by h. brown on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

h., that was a solid interview in FCJ. Interesting stuff.

Posted by The Commish on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 11:09 am

Fog City Journal reports that Chris Daly may run for supe next year in district five, against whomever Mayor Ed Lee appoints, should Ross Mirkarimi win the race for sheriff.

This prospect is an added incentive for everyone to work hard to ensure that Mirkarimi wins the sheriff's race.

Imagine what fun it would be to have the Godzilla of SF politics back in the spotlight - shouting obscenities, pounding on tables, stomping out of meetings, slamming doors, threatening to punch people out.

Go, Ross, Go!

Arise, Chris, Arise!

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

So let's suppose that Ross Mirkarimi's opponents start spreading word around town that a vote for Mirkarimi for sheriff will mean the return of Chris Daly to politics.

Think of the implications. If there's anything that could sabotage Mirkarimi's campaign, this is it.

Way to go, Chris!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

This is the Arthur Evans show.

My bad, wrong channel.

Posted by Kim on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 7:54 am


The City and Country's jails are about to get another 700 prisoners. That's for the next sheriff to deal with and I feel much more comfortable with a veteran who knows every nook and cranny of the system to make this difficult transition. Gimme Miyamoto who got the votes of 353 of the deputies in the endorsement process. Ross got 3.

And, while I like Gacon in the D.A.'s race, my first pick is Vu Trinh. You haven't lived til you've heard this guy speak. 41 years old. Vietnamese refugee. Passed CA bar at 24. 20 years as an Orange County (his folks are from there) ... Orange County Public Defender. No pauses in his responses. An intellectual. Graduate of both SF State and Hastings. An intern in the PD's office under Jeff Brown. Thank God we have IRV so that I can vote for him first without losing my vote.

Go Giants!


Posted by h. brown on Aug. 08, 2011 @ 11:41 am

The Ethics Commission has overruled the recommendations of its staffer, John St. Croix, that "Run, Ed, Run" be held in violation of existing campaign laws:

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 09, 2011 @ 6:03 am


You be the judge:

Ethic Commission Pt. 1 - Aug 8, 2011 - Item No. IV

Once again Larry Bush retained Tony De Renzo to film the Ethic Commission and get it
uploaded to youtube. Item IV. Consideration of the Status "Progress For All" Ed Run Ed Campaign.

Posted by h. brown on Aug. 09, 2011 @ 9:39 pm