The six million dollar mayor:
Why the 2007 mayor's race will be so different
(Part 4 of a 5 part series)
Mayor Gavin Newsom
February 22, 2007
Editor's Note: Part 4of a 5 part series by elections
and ethics expert Joe Lynn. Lynn explains that scandals aren't
all that will reduce Mayor Gavin Newsom's campaign fundraising
Mayor Gavin Newsom's fundraising is lagging
behind the $6 million pace he set for the 2003 campaign. We
attributed most of this to the new campaign finance laws in effect
this year since there hasn't been sufficient time to see directly
the effects of the scandal on Newsom's donors, and the Mayor's
own political position.
We will now discuss Newsom's availability during rehab for fundraising
chores and the dodges that a candidate can employ to our campaign
Rehab Means Less Time for Fundraising
The Chronicle reports
Newsom is engaged in four hours of rehab every evening. He's also
made repeated promises to attend to the business of the City.
If this is true, it will certainly limit the number of fundraisers
he can personally attend. There exists an expectation that contributions
from previous years, built on his noted personal charm, will consequently
However, the Mercury News reports
Newsom attended a fundraiser in Los Gatos on at least one of the
nights he was alleged to be in rehab. This sort of thing casts
doubt on the mayor's rehab efforts; it creates suspicion that
the mayor is engaging in rehab, not for sincere reasons, but as
damage control for his public image.
Earlier, we saw Dan Savage's report
of the Reverend Ted Haggard's miraculous recovery from homosexuality
after only three weeks of therapy. Rev. Haggard issued this news
in a press release, and I'd guess that his former followers, as
much as they'd like to believe in his recovery, would still have
doubts about the speed and nature of it.
Newsom could face similar doubt from previous contributors.
Sidestepping Campaign Finance Rules
There are two ways for the Mayor to fatten his campaign spending
beyond contributions to his own committee:
1. Ballot Measures. One of the biggest abuses in candidate
campaigns is the use of a ballot measure to trumpet the vision
of a candidate up for election at the same time as the measure.
These measures are financed by superdonors who have not been previously
identified with the subject matter of the measure.
Some go so far as to call them "pimp" ballot measures.
For example, in 2002 an additional $1 million from the Care Not
Cash campaign polished Newsom's image as he ran for D2 Supervisor
unopposed. This was the year before the Mayoral election and effectively
branded the Newsom to this day.
In 2003, Stop Aggressive Panhandling spent over $500,000 to trumpet
his policy initiative.
This year, there is talk of a police ballot measure that could
conveniently style Newsom on an issue where his positions have
been unpopular. Contributions to such a measure are not subject
to the $500 limit. A $3 million ballot measure underwritten by
a few of the Mayor's friends is within the distinct realm of possibility.
2. Independent Expenditures. In 2000, voters ordered a
$500 contribution cap to committees that make independent expenditures
in candidate races. However, the Ethics Commission adopted regulations
that make this contribution impossible to enforce.
In last year's District 6 election, there were apparent criminal
violations by committees making independent expenditures.
I have some credible information that the amount of these expenditures
was fraudulently underreported. Last week, I asked the Ethics
Commission staff to work for repeal of the regulation so that
enforcement of the limit can be transparent. If that does not
happen, I pledge to file complaints with the Commission against
any committee making candidate independent expenditures and accepting
contributions over $500. This will tend to forestall a repeat
of the District 6 fiasco.
I trust that the Ethics Commission will take this into account
when planning their budget for next year.
One would hope that we could inoculate the public to the campaign
finance dodge represented by candidate ballot measures and independent
expenditures. To the extent that Newsom should decide on such
a dodge, there ought to be further repercussions to his political
Tomorrow, I will conclude with a brief look at the new Mayoral
Public Finance Program and strategies for good government advocates
in this election year.
Joe Lynn was the campaign finance and budget officer of
the San Francisco Ethics Commission from 1998 to 2003. From 2003
to 2006, he served as one of the five Ethics Commissioners. The
San Francisco Examiner called him the backbone of the Ethics
Commission. While on staff, he received numerous awards
and has been a speaker at many conferences on Good Government.
He maintains an active interest in good government laws. Email
Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
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