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SF police union gives campaign funds to Republican Party

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The main entrance of the San Francisco Police Officers Association office in San Francisco August 31, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The Republican Party in San Francisco may be small and outnumbered in one of the country’s most liberal cities.

But their effort to help elect Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, among other candidates, has been aided this year by one of The City’s most powerful unions.

San Francisco has no sitting Republican elected officials, yet its powerful police union has given campaign funds to the party whose candidate is far from popular in the country’s progressive capital.

As of the latest reporting period, from Sept. 25 through Oct. 22, the San Francisco Police Officers Association Political Action Committee gave the Republican Party Central Committee $2,500 and another $2,500 in non monetary contributions.

The SFPOA PAC and the union’s Issues PAC are the only two political action committees run by the union that have spent money on this election listed on the Ethics Commission website.

While the union has not endorsed Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president, the Republican Party of San Francisco, like its counterparts across the country, is backing Trump for president.

“The SFPOA gives to candidates who 1. support us on key law enforcement issues and 2. have a chance of winning. In San Francisco, nine times out of 10, that means supporting Democrats. Occasionally the SFPOA will give some contributions on the other side of the aisle as well,” Nathan Ballard, a political consultant, said on behalf of the union.

Howard Epstein, vice chairman of communication for the county party, said the party and the union have worked before in the past since the party is strongly supportive of law enforcement. This cycle, said Epstein, the money was used on slate mailers, none of which included national races.

Meanwhile, the union is spending big to support and defeat several statewide initiatives and city measures.

Sam Popkin, a political science professor at UC San Diego and author of the forthcoming book “The Republican Crackup and the Future of Presidential Politics,” said the filings show the POA is showing itself to be more moderate than other police unions.

“For police unions that shows that they understand the complications of being a police union in a progressive city,” Popkin said. “If they did not endorse Trump, I look at that as a positive.”

Police unions weren’t always conservative unions, but in the 1960s they tipped more right because of leftward drift of politics, he said. Now police unions in cities that are often liberal represent the status quo and the propertied classes, added Popkin.

Other spending

The San Francisco Police Officers Association Issues PAC has spent $27,500 on efforts to defeat Proposition 62, which would repeal the state’s death penalty.

Proposition 66, which would make it more difficult to appeal death penalties, has been given $30,000 in cash support this period and $50,000 in non monetary contributions to efforts to pass this proposition and defeat Prop. 62. In all, the union’s PAC spent $117,500 in support of Prop. 66.

The union’s PAC also spent $15,000 in opposition to Proposition 57, which would open up the possibility of parole for nonviolent felons and give juvenile court judges the power to choose when to charge juveniles as adults. The PAC gave $5,000 in non monetary contributions.

Locally, the union’s PAC spent $6,000 on Proposition Q, which would ban encampments on city sidewalks and authorize city officials to remove them 24 hours after offering shelter. It gave $5,000 in non monetary support for that measure.

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