The Ed Lee Story: Gack!


I finally got a copy of The Ed Lee Story -- a 132-page paperback hagiography written by campaign flak Enrique Pearce -- and it's way, way over the top. I shouldn't even compare it to the lives of the saints -- I read that stuff in Catholic School, and none of it was a sappy, drippy and utterly lacking in perspective as this. The Ed Lee Story reads like what it is -- a giant, extended campaign flier, produced by a supposedly independent group backing Lee for mayor.

Willie Brown appears in the first chapter, speaking with "characteristic showmanship and hypnotic charm." Pearce once worked for Matt Gonzalez -- who ran for supervisor as a strong opponent of Brown's administration and was such a critic of the City Hall corruption that the mayor represented that he didn't even return Brown's call congratulating him on winning a seat on the board. But he has either forgotten or utterly sanitized that era.

Rose Pak appears a page later, described as a "community leader and Ed's longtime friend," which is one way of putting it.

I haven't been able to reach Pearce; if he calls me I'll update this post. But in other news accounts, Pearce insists that Lee had no role in the great work -- it's described as an "unauthorized biography," and Tony Winnicker, the press spokesperson for the official Ed Lee for Mayor campaign, told me his crew had nothing to do with it. Pearce must have gone to great lengths to get all those high school and college photos.

Most of the footnotes cite the San Francisco Examiner and BeyondChron, but Pearce interviewed a number of Lee's old friends. This was a fair amount of work, including a lot of research.

But here's the thing: Pearce (who's had problems with keeping independent campaigns independent in the past) supposedly wrote this book without any help or support from any of the people who are involved in the Lee adminstration or in his campaign. I don't know, maybe he did. But that's the problem with these "independent expenditure" committees -- it's hard to believe that there's truly zero coordination between the various groups that are working to get Lee elected.

The Chron notes at least one indication that it's not all as independent as it seems:

Pearce said he never spoke with Lee or his family for the book. However, at a golf tournament at the Olympic Club on Monday to benefit the nonprofit Chinese Hospital, Lee's wife, Anita, beamed as she signed copies.

Plus, he clearly worked with Pak on the book:

Pearce swears all those family photos in the book were gleaned from various websites and family friends. And where did Pearce get Lee's favorite recipe for "No-longer secret Poongaloong" (basically spaghetti with frozen peas, corn and a half-bottle of Del Monte ketchup thrown in)?

"The recipe was from Rose," he said. Of course it was.

And we know that Pak meets with the mayor regularly.

Independent expenditure committees have a huge advantage -- they can raise unlimited money, in unlimited amounts. In San Francisco, candidates for mayor can only take money in $500 chunks, and can't accept contributions from corporations or entities that have contracts with the city. The folks who funded this book -- and we still don't know who they are -- were under no such regulations.

The trade off is that the "real" campaign -- the one financed with regulated money -- can't have any contact at all with the "independent" campaign.

Meantime, Enrique Pearce wrote 132 pages about Ed Lee, complete with childhood anecdotes, pictures, interviews with old friends and testimonial statements -- and the mayor's office and campaign had no input, connection, information, coordination or anything? Geez. Maybe Kitty Kelley's got some competition.