Water is Wet. SF “Progressives” Are Hypocrites.
Last night, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), on which I served for 20 years from 2000–2020 and which I chaired from 2012–2016, held a special meeting to discuss a resolution hastily drafted by the body’s current chair, David Campos. The resolution dealt with a local political group that I — a lifelong Democratic activist — lead. But in Campos’ words, the group must be condemned for its “Republican Billionaire’s Attacks on Democratic Party-Endorsed Candidates.”
The condemnation might be compelling if not for the facts that: 1) very little of what’s written in it is true; 2) most of the talking points offered last night by DCCC members and, in the preceding days, by their allied bloggers were equally false; 3) Campos and his DCCC acolytes refuse to even acknowledge their own glaring hypocrisy on these issues; and 4) the last-minute meeting, held without normal 72-hour public notice, was itself an exercise in Trump/McConnell dirty politics.
I serve as the volunteer Director of “Neighbors for a Better San Francisco,” a nonprofit political group made up of long-time San Francisco residents who are concerned about the direction of our city. We are registered with the Fair Political Practices Commission, fully transparent, and compliant with campaign finance filing requirements — unlike many of those who impugn us.
We only support Democratic candidates and progressive causes. Already we have contributed significantly to pass Democratic-endorsed priorities like YES on Prop 16 (to bring back Affirmative Action statewide), YES on Prop A (bonds for parks and low-income housing), Yes on Prop J (supporting teacher salaries), and Yes on RR (to save Caltrain). We are ONLY supporting fellow Democratic candidates for Supervisor and other offices, including some also endorsed by the SFDCCC. Neighbors for a Better San Francisco has over 65 donors who have contributed from as little as $250 to as much as $300,000. The overwhelming majority of our donors are Democrats. We don’t all agree on national political issues, which is perfectly fine because our group has nothing to do with national politics. We are focused on supporting 100% Democratic candidates and progressive causes here in our home city and state.
It is not worth your time or mine to fact-check everything that was said last night or written in the resolution, but I would be remiss not to mention that Bill Oberndorf, one of our dozens of donors and yet the primary focus of David Campos’ hyperventilations, is not a registered Republican. He is an independent voter who left the Republican Party over disgust with Donald Trump. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for UCSF hospitals and other important local causes, and supports Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President, just as he supported Hillary Clinton for President in 2016.
The absence of facts or basic research underpinning their statements is, unfortunately, not limited to Campos and other DCCC members. Their false narrative is egged on by bloggers like Tim Redmond and Joe Eskenazi. Yesterday, Eskenazi boldly informed his readers that our group has raised over $12 million, an enormously wrong claim that he soon had to retract when we pointed out he was double and triple counting donation forms and confusing “amendment forms” with original forms. Nevertheless, at Wednesday’s meeting, multiple DCCC members cited this make-believe $12 million figure in attacking our group, a sad, ironic performance of Republican-like gaslighting.
What neither Campos nor any of his DCCC supporters did mention last night is the glass mansion from which they are throwing rocks at fellow Democrats. They attack our group on trumped-up allegations (and I mean that pun intentionally) of un-Democratic donations while glossing over:
- On the same day they rammed through a resolution supposedly condemning attacks on Democratic candidates for Supervisor, a deceitful mailer attacking Democrat Marjan Philhour, designed and funded by their own political allies, arrived in mailboxes across the Richmond. The mailer absurdly claimed that Marjan, the mother of three and wife of a schoolteacher, did not care about education. Despite numerous public comments urging the DCCC to join in condemning this attack, the Chair declined. None of the DCCC members said a word, further exposing the entire evening as a fraudulent, one-sided exercise in selective outrage, crocodile tears, and hypocrisy.
- Just last year, Republican George Hume donated $24,500 to Youth and Families Taking Power Supporting Chesa Boudin for SF District Attorney 2019, an Independent Expenditure Committee that supported Chesa Boudin. The committee launched a wave of attacks against the Democratic Party-endorsed candidate in the District Attorney’s race, Suzy Loftus. The DCCC under Chair Campos did absolutely nothing about it. There was no outrage. No resolution. Silence. Campos is now Boudin’s Chief of Staff, meaning he literally gets paid by an official who won his seat with the help of Republican money. Frankly, Campos should have recused himself last night for being financially conflicted on the issue. (Hume has also contributed to Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, and presumably like Chesa Boudin, we are grateful for his and others’ support from across the city who back our Democratic and Progressive causes and candidates.)
- Despite performative speeches from some DCCC members rejecting the political influence of law enforcement groups, some of those same members continue to hypocritically pocket their cash. For example, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the union representing Sheriff’s deputies, donated $5,000 to DCCC member and Supervisor Hillary Ronen earlier this year. Maybe when she says she wants to defund the police, she means by taking their money for herself?
- Last week, California Barrel Company LLC, the developer of the City-approved Potrero Power Station Mixed-Use Project, donated $12,500 to the Affordable Housing Alliance, which works hand-in-glove with Campos’ faction and routinely attacks Democratic-Party endorsed candidates. Chair Campos and other members routinely raise tens of thousands of dollars from developers and contractors with business before the City to fund the Affordable Housing Alliance’s attacks on other Democrats.
- Despite their faux protestations about corporate money, last year, Campos’ cohort accepted a flood of money from the nicotine company Juul, including $149,000 to Nate Allbee, a former aide to Campos and Ronen and campaign consultant for Supervisor Dean Preston, and current consultant for Vilaska Nguyen in District 7 and Proposition B.
If David Campos and his supporters on the DCCC want to stand up for Democratic values, they should stop attacking fellow San Francisco Democrats like me and start holding themselves and their allies accountable. If they actually believe what they say, they should return the money they’ve taken from law enforcement groups. They should tell their candidate Vilaska Nguyen in District 7 to stop any professional relationship with a political consultant who worked for a pro-nicotine campaign.
Alas, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.
This is the most important election of our lifetimes. We MUST oust Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We must keep Nancy Pelosi Speaker. And we must take back the Senate for Democrats. I am proud to stand with and for Democrats — and only Democrats — in this critical election. Voters in San Francisco care about the issues — homelessness, housing, public safety, our economy, our health — not desperate, phony last-minute campaign stunts designed to distract voters from the issues that matter. Please don’t fall for it. And please remember to return your ballot before November 3rd!