Ed Lee's Campaign Spending Could Cost Taxpayers

Ed Lee's Spending Spree Getting Costly For All

By Chris Roberts
|  Friday, Oct 21, 2011  |  Updated 8:34 AM PDT
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Ed Lee's Campaign Spending Could Cost Taxpayers

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee isn't afraid of publicly-financed candidates.

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Mayor Ed Lee said he wouldn't accept public financing. And he's not -- but he and his moneyed supporters are raising so much money that they could end up costing San Francisco taxpayers anyway.

Lee, who entered the race in early August, is the only  major mayoral candidate to reject public financing, which caps campaign spending at $1.475 million. Lee and soft money committees pledged to his support spent more than that as of Wednesday, which means that the public financing candidate's spending cap is raised, too, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The cap is now raised by $100,000, and candidates can receive up to $950,000 in public funds, up from $900,000.

The city's public financing law allows for the city to give matching funds to candidates who raise their own money. Thus far, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Board of Supervisors President Chiu have received $683,109 and $536,663, respectively, but both candidates -- presumably in an attempt to avoid a smear from the Lee campaign, which called on them to not accept any more public funds -- have said they do not plan to accept them.

There's also the Supreme Court at play here. The nation's highest jurists recently struck down a public financing law in Arizona, saying that it inhibits free speech because a candidate would have to choose between spending money on outreach or stopping raising money in order to prevent other candidates who had reached the cap from fundraising.

Supervisor Mark Farrell recently attempted to alter the city's campaign finance laws to bring them into accord with the Supreme Court's decision but was unsuccessful, an effort supported by Chiu.
 

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