Safai Denies Coordination with Delagnes
over POA Independent Expenditure

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on October 14, 2008 with 4 Comments

A 2005 copyrighted photo of District 11 candidate Ahsha Safai,
used without permission in a recent campaign mailer funded by the SFPOA,
is raising questions about a potential violation
of campaign finance and ethics rules.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

October 14, 2008

A smear campaign mailer distributed to registered voters in District 11 by the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) is raising questions about a potential violation of campaign finance rules.

The issue inadvertently came to Fog City Journal’s attention when we noticed a copyrighted photo of District 11 candidate Ahsha Safai being used without our permission in a recent POA campaign mailer targeting fellow candidate John Avalos.

POA campaign mailer.



When we telephoned POA Chief Gary Delagnes to ask him why he used a copyrighted photo without permission, and to negotiate compensation for the use of the photo, Delagnes said he obtained the photo from Safai and refused to pay for the photo’s use, suggesting we take the POA to “small claims court.”

“I got the photo from Ahsha Safai,” Delagnes said. “He must have got it off the internet.”

POA President Gary Delagnes

Campaign finance rules and reforms governing contributions and independent expenditures prohibit coordination between an independent expenditure and a candidate. If the rules are violated, expenditures are considered campaign contributions subject to contribution limits.

Delagnes said the POA campaign mailer cost $15,000 to produce and disseminate.

Section 1.115 of the Campaign and Government Conduct Code states in part:

An expenditure is not considered independent and shall be treated as a contribution from the person making the expenditure to the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose benefit the expenditure is made, if the expenditure funds a communication that expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate and is made under the following circumstance:

(1) the expenditure is made at the request, suggestion, or direction of, or in cooperation, consultation, concert or coordination with, the candidate on whose behalf , or for whose benefit, the expenditure is made; or

(2) the communication funded by the expenditure is created, produced or disseminated:

(A) after the candidate has made or participated in making any decision regarding the content, timing, location, mode, intended audience, volume of distribution, or frequency of placement of the communication; or

(B) after discussion between the creator, producer or distributor of a communication, or the person paying for that communication, and the candidate or committee regarding the content, timing, location, mode, intended audience, volume of distribution or frequency of placement of that communication, the result of which is agreement on any of these topics.

For his part, Safai denied supplying Delagnes with the photo. He said the only time he met with Delagnes was during a meeting with the POA to consider its candidate endorsements. The POA subsequently endorsed Safai.

“The law is very, very clear,” Safai said in a voice message. “I can’t have any control or influence or communication with any of the organizations that do that stuff. They probably got that picture off the internet.”

“I was just as surprised as you were when I saw it, eventually, much to my chagrin,” Safai added. “It’s not my message and it has nothing to do with my campaign.”

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Safai Denies Coordination with Delagnes
over POA Independent Expenditure
are now closed.

  1. Sorry to you sfresident, even if it doesn’t prove coordination, there’s still that matter of copyright infringement. Who broke the law, the POA or Safai?

  2. Uh, sorry to bust your story, but even if Safai gave the picture to Delagnes, that’s not “coordination” as you imply….not coordination if:

    “The person making the expenditure has obtained a photograph, biography, position paper, press release, or similar material from the candidate or the candidate’s agents”

  3. So the mudslinging in D11 is finally starting in earnest. Safai and his downtown friends are heavily bashing Avalos on TV and in the mail, and I’m sure labor will start going after Safai. Left out of this whole process are the actual residents of D11, who are held hostage to yet another power struggle between competing factions.

    Let’s elect someone who isn’t caught up in this tired, petty infighting. Randy Knox is the only candidate with the independence and experience to get D11 the services it has been sorely lacking for so long while other parts of the City flourish.

    Talk to anyone on the street here in D11 and they’ll tell you public safety, crime and clean streets are a top priority — Knox is the only candidate with the criminal justice experience needed to bring real change.

  4. Interesting that Safai says “it is not my message”, in reference to the mailer’s content. At the District 11 Democratic Club candidate endorsement forum back in early September, Safai used his closing statement to focus entirely on attacking Chris Daly. It was an odd way to end the forum and very out of line with the rest of the candidates who had kept the debate cordial and focused on their positions for D11. I am an Avalos supporter, and Safai’s out of place closing remarks even caught me off guard.