Olague benefit stirs debate on Brown, Pak ties

S.F. Examiner File PhotoChristina Olague is running for District 5 supervisor

Former Mayor Willie Brown is flexing his political fundraising muscle yet again for District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, only intensifying her opponents’ criticism that she is beholden to moderate special interests.

The charismatic Brown is holding a breakfast campaign fundraiser Friday morning for Olague at the Ferry Building with special guest Mayor Ed Lee, who appointed her in January to serve out the remainder of Ross Mikarimi’s term after he became sheriff.

Olague is fighting for November election in San Francisco’s strongest progressive district, which includes the Haight, Western Addition and Fillmore neighborhoods. Her opponents are attempting to brand her as no longer being the independent progressive, but rather one compromised by her appointment and beholden to Lee and his powerful moderate allies, including Brown and Chinatown political powerhouse Rose Pak.

“Taking money from the power elite and spending it to brand yourself as a progressive is the kind of transparent cronyism District 5 voters reject,” said opponent Julian Davis, who has the backing of several prominent progressive leaders, including former District 5 Supervisor Matt Gonzalez and former board President Aaron Peksin.  

Olague opponents London Breed and Thea Selby echoed similar concerns about Friday’s fundraiser, questioning the impact Brown’s influence could have over the supervisor.

“I’m trying to understand why Willie Brown is so concerned about who gets elected in District 5,” Breed said. “Why does he have his hands in this district?”

Olague’s political consultant Enrique Pearce offers no apologies for the Brown fundraiser.

“Christina Olague is proud to have support from a very wide group of organizations and individuals and she doesn’t shy away from that,” Pearce said.

He said that Olague has proven her independence and how she votes on the merits of issues, noting last week’s Board of Supervisors vote when she backed CleanPowerSF, a progressive-backed program that will compete with PG&E.

If a June fundraiser in Chinatown put together for Olague by Pak with guests Lee and Brown is any indication, the Friday event is sure to yield a hefty take. The June event raised $46,000 alone, more than half the total contributions Olague reported raising as of June 30.  

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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