San Francisco No Campaign Contributions from City Vendors, Proposition H (June 2008)
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Proposition H was "a thinly veiled swipe" from Mayor Gavin Newsom at Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin. The measure puts more teeth into an existing campaign law by making it illegal for city officials and the political committees they control to take or solicit campaign contributions from someone that has a city contract the official will vote on.
Under the previous law in the city, these contributions were already illegal--but it was the errant contractor who was liable for fines and punishment if the law is violated. Measure H now makes the city official liable as well.
The measure was placed on the ballot several months after San Francisco Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin was criticized because a fundraising committee he controlled received a campaign contribution from Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. just two days before the board awarded the same company a lucrative advertising contract. Peskin has said he didn't know about the contribution, and also accused the mayor of using similar fundraising practices. Peskin says that he supports Proposition H.
Measure H was written by Gavin Newsom. Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2010, has accepted contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from developers, corporate executives and others with business before the city.
Examples of these donations include:
- Ben Silverman gave more than $40,000 to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign between December 2008 and June 2009. Silverman was the co-chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment during that 7-month period. In those same months, Newsom's mayoral office "was successfully fighting the Board of Supervisors to get the NBC show "Trauma" a city tax rebate for filming in the city." Newsom's wife, actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom, was also given a part in Trauma's pilot episode.
- Developer Simon Snellgrove gave a donation to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign. Snellgrove owns the purchase rights to the 2.5-acre Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club on the northern waterfront, and has plans to develop it into a luxury condominium project. His plans will require city and, ultimately, mayoral approval.
- A restaurant owner "who benefited from a mayoral veto to get around zoning regulations" subsequently gave money to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign.
- The president of Levi's gave money to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign during a period in which Newsom's mayoral office was finding ways to persuade the company to stay in the city/
- The Deputy Sheriffs' Association gave money to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign shortly before it entered into contract negotiations with the City of San Francisco.
- The president of AT&T gave money to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign. AT&T has multiple contracts with the City of San Francisco.