A San Francisco supervisor whose district is mulling a new TargetExpress store took campaign contributions from a lobbyist working for Target, according to Ethics Commission records.
Lobbyist Boe Hayward with firm Goodyear Peterson Hayward & Associates, LLC donated $500 to Supervisor Julie Christensen’s campaign for District 3 supervisor, on March 11. This is the legal maximum donation allowed.
Another donation from Rich Peterson at $500 was made to Christensen’s campaign. Peterson is a partner in the same firm as Hayward.
Target expressed interest in the old site of Lombardi Sports on Polk Street, which many neighbors have publicly opposed, fearing the Target store would be unfair competition for Polk Street stores. Neighbors have suggested an alternative site at Van Ness Avenue, which Christensen publicly supports.
The campaign donation may carry the air of Target having undue sway on the supervisor in decisions around future Target sites, neighbors told The San Francisco Examiner. Campaign donations are of general concern to the public because of money’s potentially corrosive effect on politics.
“I’m not a pay to play kind of person,” Christensen told The Examiner.
“I would bristle at the idea that a $500 or $1,000 dollar contribution would cause me to do anything against my conscience or the interest of my constituents,” she said. “My goal is to stay in office, and I’ll hardly be allowed to stay in office if I don’t have that integrity.”
Neighborhood leaders said Christensen has supported their desire for the TargetExpress to move to Van Ness Avenue, keeping it in The City while mitigating its impact on Polk Street.
“We’d expect support from our supervisor on this issue,” said Frank Cannata, who is on the board of the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association. “Taking 500 dollars from someone who’s working for Target, I’m hoping that doesn’t cause a conflict of interest.”
Though Hayward did confirm to The Examiner his lobbying firm represents Target, it has not yet filed that interest with the Ethics Commission. Ethics Commission Director John St. Croix said the deadline to file lobbying work done in late April was May 15, and that there were no irregularities.
Of the donation, Hayward said “I do not think my contribution will hold more sway than anyone else giving in the city and county of San Francisco.”
Hayward’s donation isn’t the only one from his firm to candidates running for office. Veronica Bell gave $500 (the maximum allowed) to Mayor Ed Lee’s reelection campaign, as did Charles Goodyear.
Mayor Ed Lee appointed Christensen to her position in January as supervisor when David Chiu left office to join the state Assembly. Lee publicly supports Christensen for supervisor.
Notably, independent expenditure committees have increasingly played a role in San Francisco politics. These committees allow limitless donations, and are not beholden to the same rules as contributing directly to a politician.
Though Christensen doesn’t yet have an independent expenditure committee, tech sector leaders including Ron Conway and Marissa Mayer have already donated thousands to her campaign, and Conway has formed such committees for Mayor Ed Lee’s allies as recently as the last election.
In the end, Cannata said the proof of who holds sway with Christensen will be demonstrated by her actions, adding “We’re the constituents, right?”