See an update to this story below. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has been having breakfast with CEOs to seek millions in funding for the America’s Cup, but the identities of those CEOs remain a mystery.
At a City Hall hearing two weeks ago, America’s Cup Organizing Committee chief Kyri McClellan told supervisors that Lee has been “putting an incredible amount of energy” into fundraising to cover city costs for the America’s Cup. As the yacht race draws closer, pressure is building around an anticipated funding shortfall that could deal a blow to city coffers.
McClellan told supervisors that Lee was "holding breakfasts with CEOs" to raise money. Encouragingly, she added, “people are responding.”
So, who are the CEOs? And how much have they agreed to contribute? So far, nobody has disclosed that information.
Shortly after the hearing, the Guardian submitted a public records request to Lee’s office seeking documentation on the fundraising breakfasts and records showing the names and affiliations of the CEOs.
In response, we received several pages from the mayor’s calendar. Entries show that Lee held half a dozen meetings concerning “economic development,” with no mention of the America’s Cup. The mayor had a meeting at Waterbar, a restaurant on the Embarcadero overlooking the Bay Bridge, on the morning of Jan. 25; he had another meeting there Feb. 1; he met at the Hotel Vitale on Feb. 22; met at City Hall on Feb. 28; had breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel on March 1, and had lunch with someone at Original Joe’s on March 4. But there was no information disclosing whom he met with.
After receiving the documents, the Guardian left multiple voicemails with the mayor’s press office asking for the identities of the CEOs. So far, nobody has responded.
The request also yielded a fundraising form that asks prospective donors to “join the 2013 America’s Cup San Francisco Host Committee.”
Donors could opt to become a “Legacy Benefactor” for committing to give or raise $5 million; a “Legacy Partner” for $2.5 million; a “Strategic Partner” for $1 million, a “Civic Champion” for $500,000, or a mere “Member” for $250,000. Donors with questions or who wished “to connect with Mayor Lee” could call Stephanie Roumeliotes, the form noted.
Roumeliotes is a prominent fundraiser and political strategist who provided financial consulting for the re-election campaigns of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. She was appointed to serve on the Golden Gate Concourse Authority, a part of the Recreation and Parks Department, by former Mayor Gavin Newsom.
A call to the number listed went to SGR Consulting, Roumeliotes’ firm. The receptionist declined to comment or to connect the Guardian with Roumeliotes, saying, “All press inquiries should be directed to the Mayor’s Office.”
UPDATE: We just received a voicemail from Christine Falvey, Mayor Lee's press secretary, who told us "I don't have a list of the attendees for those breakfasts. They were hosted by the America's Cup Organizing Committee." Which raises more questions, but in any case we placed a call to race organizers and will update again when we know more.