State investigators looking further into laundering by Ed Lee donors

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said Thursday that investigators will look into the latest allegations of donors laundering money for Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign coffers.

Tara Stock, a spokeswoman for the FPPC, said the new information will be considered as part of an existing investigation into an earlier batch of contributions –- also called out as suspicious by news reports and Lee’s campaign rivals.

The Lee campaign has been plagued by shady donations in recent weeks, but spokesman Tony Winnicker is quick to note that the mayor was one of the first to call for investigations into the shenanigans. Winnicker said on Thursday the campaign has tried to carefully check more than 4,000 individual donations given in the past three months and there isn’t much more that can be done to verify the legality of the money, which is restricted to $500 per person and can’t be “bundled” to skirt contribution limits.

The Lee campaign has returned a total of 31 donations totaling more than $16,000 based on the questionable funds and has insisted that the mayor isn’t the target of any investigation.

The first batch of donations came from airport shuttle workers who were allegedly promised reimbursement by their manager if they gave to the campaign. The second group of contributions was prompted by an infamous San Francisco property manager who allegedly demanded by email that several of his associates should do much of the same: give the maximum amount and then be paid back.

Five of Lee’s mayoral race rivals gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday to request the investigation from the FPPC, along with state and federal monitors to watch over Election Day voting next week.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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