Did SF Mayor Candidate Yee Bust Laws with Casino Fundraiser?

By Chris Roberts
|  Saturday, Aug 20, 2011  |  Updated 7:39 AM PDT
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Did SF Mayor Candidate Yee Bust Laws with Casino Fundraiser?

State Sen. Leland Yee has been a friend to the casino industry during his time in Sacramento, and that friendliness may have paid off during a June fundraiser for his bid for San Francisco mayor at a Colma casino.

Campaign donors paid $125 per plate for meals at Lucky Chances Casino in Colma -- but the campaign was charged less than market value for the food served up to contributors, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

For example, the campaign was charged only $20 per person for 75 surf-and-turf dinners, whereas the dinner buffet -- which does not include lobster served to campaign contributors -- normally costs $30.88, according to the newspaper.

Also gone unreported on Yee financial reports are two bottles of wine donated by the casino, auctioned off to support the Yee effort, both of which retail for $150 each or more.

The casino has been a faithful donor to Yee's senate bids, doling out $19,000 to his senate campaigns. Corporations like the casino cannot donate to a mayoral campaign under San Francisco election law.

Yee campaign manager Jim Stearns says that the campaign did nothing wrong. "Our intention and our belief is we paid full market value for the hospitality and service," he told the newspaper. "It's Colma. It's not haute cuisine."

Stearns says that if the campaign was undercharged, it will pay the casino more for the services rendered.

Yee has sponsored several laws that were friendly to casinos, such as legislation that would have allowed casinos to offer no-limit Texas hold 'em poker, and another bill that would have allowed more video poker in California.
 

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