Campaign to get Ed Lee to run for mayor reported check from wrong donor 

The campaign to get Ed Lee to run for mayor falsely reported a $5,000 check in the name of San Francisco real estate mogul Victor Makras.

The "Run, Ed, Run" campaign, orchestrated by a committee called Progress for All, has been under scrutiny since it began in June to collect large checks from business people connected to Chinatown power broker Rose Pak. That money — about $50,000 coming mostly from nine major donors — paid for a website, signs and campaign workers to convince the interim mayor to run for a full term.

The campaign boosted Lee’s profile across The City in the weeks before he announced his entrance into the race Monday. Lee was appointed to the post by the Board of Supervisors in January after he promised not to run for mayor in the November election.

Late Wednesday, the committee filed an amendment to its campaign-finance records with the Ethics Commission, replacing Makras’ name as a donor with another man, investor John Talty. Talty’s name is a common one in fundraising records. He has donated to both Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. The San Francisco Examiner was unable to reach him.

When Makras’ name appeared on Progress For All’s original Aug. 1 campaign filing, it came as little surprise considering he is closely tied to another Lee backer, former Mayor Willie Brown. Makras currently serves on the Retirement Board, but he has held commission appointments for three decades, including throughout Brown’s tenure as mayor.

But Makras is a staunch supporter of City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s mayoral campaign. He and his wife have both contributed maximum $500 donations to Herrera’s campaign. Makras has even been enlisted by the campaign to help raise money for Herrera.

Makras declined to comment on the situation, and it is still unclear why his name showed up instead of Talty’s.

Progress for All’s consultant, Enrique Pearce, said Wednesday he was not authorized to talk about the disputed check, and referred questions to the committee’s treasurer, Ivy Lee, who has not returned multiple calls for comment. The campaign also has not provided a copy of the check to The Examiner.

Critics such as retired judge Quentin Kopp and San Francisco Democratic party chairman Aaron Peskin have recently demanded that Progress For All’s campaign be investigated for possibly engaging in improper activities.

Peskin said he found the mixup over Makras’ donation suspicious.

“I’ve never heard of anything so bizarre,” Peskin said. “How can a campaign that has only gotten nine checks [from major contributors] have somehow confused who the donor is? …  It defies imagination.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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Brent Begin

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