Tech billionaire blasts Jane Kim over domestic violence vote; Bernie’s coffee choice at Philz

Wave your red capes! Sound the voter-baiting sirens!

Yes, lovely folks, it’s that season again: Time to bash progressives over the head for voting to reinstate former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in 2012, following his domestic violence scandal.

The latest target of billionaire tech investor Ron Conway’s vendetta against progressive supervisors is state Senate candidate Jane Kim in her race against Supervisor Scott Wiener.

We’ve really come full circle, haven’t we? In order to ostensibly “defend” women victims, Conway is himself (politically) beating up on a woman.

Of course, there’s no denying the vote took place, and, yes, Kim voted to reinstate Mirkarimi four years ago. Mirkarimi was under fire for grabbing his wife’s arm in a car, which resulted in a bruise, which later made headlines after she made a tearful confession to a friend on camera.

But there’s a big difference between highlighting Kim’s voting record, which is fair, and making melodramatic claims with little connection to reality.

In one of his new online videos blasting Kim for her 2012 vote, a woman identified as Mauryne Lees is seen in black and white, and intones, “My daughter was murdered by someone she trusted. I know the pain of domestic violence.”

The video links Kim with murder — that’s just bonkers.

Before you break out the pitchforks, note this video is backed by the “We Just Can’t Trust Jane Kim for Senate 2016” committee, bolstered almost entirely by $200,000 from, who else: Conway.

Conway is a big backer of Kim’s opponent, Wiener, and a noted ally of Mayor Ed Lee.
The committee also just netted $100,000 from tech billionaire Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.

So I picked up the phone and asked Conway, “Is this supposed to mean Jane Kim is a murderer?” Conway huffed, “I’m on my way to a meeting,” and then had Andrea Shorter, a political consultant who sits on the Commission on the Status of Women, call me.

Shorter told me she intends to hold people accountable on behalf of domestic violence victims. That’s all well and good, I said, but if you’re listening to victims, there’s one big question that must be asked:

Did you ever listen to Mirkarimi’s wife?

Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, later turned the entire saga into a play, “What is the Scandal?” It’s a touching and layered tale, where, yes, she acknowledged her husband once abused her. But she also told a tale of an immigrant whose life was rocked as citywide political forces exploited a dark, complicated time in her life for the sake of power.

More than just a victim of that one incident, Lopez and her powerful one-woman performance (where she does a great impression of Mayor Lee) showed how she was denied agency and denied a voice.

Lopez told me what she would tell Conway if she could: “Stop using Trump political tactics” where white men of privilege “use and exploit” women of color to advance their policies.
And, most importantly, she said, “Stop using my family.”

I asked Shorter if she’d seen Lopez’s play. “I’ve not seen it. I’m not interested in seeing it,” she told me.

Conway later texted me that Shorter “speaks for herself, but I concur with her views.”
In Conway’s hit-piece video on Kim’s record, the woman narrating says, “I care about the victims, Jane Kim doesn’t.”

But by ignoring Lopez, Conway can be accused of the same thing.

* * *

The Bernie Bump is back, and politicos by the dozens swarmed the former presidential candidate at Jane Kim’s headquarters across from the San Francisco Library’s main branch on Saturday.

Much hubbub centered around Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Kim and state Proposition 61, but frankly I was more interested in his other visit that day — to Philz Coffee, a San Francisco original.

Phil Jaber, center, founder of Philz Coffee, hobnobs with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jane Kim. (Courtesy Phil Jaber)
Phil Jaber, center, founder of Philz Coffee, hobnobs with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jane Kim. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

Let’s not lose sight of important facts, friends. The biggest question of the day is obvious: Which of Philz’ many unique blends did he drink?

Ambrosia? Tesora? Philtered Soul? Silken Splendor?

Turns out Philz founder, Phil Jaber, was the one to craft the perfect drip for the Vermont senator.

“I used the holy water,” Jaber joked. He combined two darker blends, Jacob’s Wonderbar (named for Phil’s son), and Ether, served with “a little cream” (and no sugar) for Sanders.

“Bernie has class and quality,” Jaber told me, and said they shook hands. But was he intimidated to make a brew for such a famous fellow?

No way, Jaber told me. He’s made coffee for Jackie Speier, Mayor Ed Lee, former mayor Gavin Newsom, and all sorts of big-wigs.

“I make coffee for everybody,” he said.

* * *

A sea of soda money is backing Jane Kim, as more than $180,000 in spending by the American Beverage Association has boosted her campaign against Scott Wiener.

That group is Big Soda incarnate — Coca Cola Company, Pepsico and all the carbonated industry titans fighting a proposed soda tax in San Francisco.

But unlike 2014, when Supervisor David Campos flipped his position on the then-proposed soda tax, Kim has long said she doesn’t believe in regressive taxes.

Still, as Wiener points out, that’s the whole point. Increasing the cost of soda leads people — especially low-income communities of color, who lead in health disparities — to drink less of it.

“We know the soda tax works. It worked in Mexico. It works in Berkeley,” Wiener told On Guard.

And as far as 2014, he said, “With David Campos, with that race, it was a lot more cynical” when he flipped his position and later saw Big Soda back him financially, he said. “Here, Kim has consistently supported the soda tax. In some ways that’s scarier. Jane Kim is a true believer.”

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter.

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