San Francisco’s boys (and gals) in blue are showering politicians with green:
The controversial Police Officers Association just dropped a whopping $100,000 into independent expenditure committees, our form of local Super PACs, supporting supervisor candidates Christine Johnson, Sonja Trauss, and Jessica Ho, according to the latest Ethics Commission filings.
Johnson and Trauss are running to represent District 6, which includes South of Market, Tenderloin, and other hots spots where San Francisco police struggle with everyday crime. Ho, by contrast, is a moderate Democrat running to represent the Sunset and Parkside.
It’s a little shocking to see, to be honest, as many politicians have distanced themselves from the POA after it was accused of blocking much called-for reform of the San Francisco Police Department. And this isn’t critiques from crazy lefty-lefts, this was the late Mayor Ed Lee and now Mayor London Breed who took issue with their stances.
That union, which represents San Francisco police, also tried to pass a ballot measure last June that would have wrested control of Taser policy away from city government — a move widely panned by nearly every single politician, group, and board in San Francisco.
And yet, here we are.
The POA money came in at at time when funding in all of the supervisors races has reached gangbuster levels.
As I sat writing this, an email popped up in my inbox from the San Francisco Ethics Commission noting the ceiling for public financing in the District 6 race jumped to $510,000, based on how much money they’ve raised. And in District 4, total funds supporting Ho have reached a whopping $630,000, including the outside independent expenditure committee money flowing in from downtown and tech interests.
While supervisor candidates cannot coordinate with the independent expenditure committees, which in this devil’s bargain get to rake in unlimited amounts of cash from any individual or group, which the candidates cannot do, the very reason the POA is spreading the cash in the first place is because they were impressed by these candidates.
“Obviously, our philosophy is that The City is a bit of a mess right now,” said POA political consultant Gary Delagnes.
As for the POA’s endorsement and funding of D6 candidates Johnson and Trauss, Delagnes told me Wednesday, “they were both very, very adamant that more people needed to go to jail, that more people needed to be prosecuted.” Ultimately, “while we have nothing against (District 6 supervisor candidate) Matt Haney and had a nice conversation with him, we don’t think the political ideology of Matt Haney will fix the problems in the district.”
And when I asked why Delagnes, my fellow San Francisco native who is also a Saint Ignatius College Preparatory graduate, would ever in his right mind back Ho, a candidate who has lived in San Francisco since (get ready for your jaw to drop) March 2018, he relented, a bit.
“This decision was made,” he said, and “some people were angry there wasn’t more conversation.”
That’s a glowing endorsement, isn’t it? That aside, Delagnes did say Ho “seemed bright, focused, and in touch with the issues of her district.” As for her opponent, candidate Gordon Mar, “he was never seriously in the conversation … nor did he seek our endorsement.”
Not all is rosy between the POA and its chosen candidates, either.
Johnson told me in an email Wednesday that she opposed Proposition H, the POA’s ballot measure to block The City from setting Taser policies, but took issue with their past history in blocking reforms from City Hall.
“I sought the POA endorsement because we will be asking a lot of the SFPD and POA in the coming years to get results for residents,” Johnson said, adding “the POA can be counterproductive at times. I have not and will not support actions that are counter to progress.”
Johnson also told me she supported the reform findings issued by District Attorney George Gascon’s blue ribbon panel, which the POA publicly feuded with — that one surprised Delagnes.
“I do not remember her saying she supported the blue ribbon panel,” he told me. “That would have stuck in my mind, Joe, because we think George Gascon’s blue ribbon panel is about the biggest bullshit known to man.”
You know I will add, for all the progressive Democrats who are likely foaming at the mouth reading this, the POA has noted the political black hole it has found itself in and promised to turn over a new leaf. Its new president, the openly gay Sgt. Tony Montoya, has pledged to soften the union’s tone. And for those moderate Democrats looking to slam progressives, disagreeing with the POA is not tantamount to disliking cops, either.
No matter where you stand on ‘em, at least now you know where they stand on the supervisors races.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.