Lee under fire again by mayoral opponents

November 3, 2011 9:01:17 PM PDT
San Francisco's mayoral election is just five days away and now there's a renewed call for investigations into possible wrong doing by supporters of incumbent Mayor Ed Lee. The mayor himself is not under legal scrutiny, but his rivals still say he's to blame.

Early voting is well underway in San Francisco and now some mayoral candidates say the integrity of the election process is in question because of the tactics of some Mayor Ed Lee supporters.

"Our interim mayor is not Pontius Pilate. He can't take the tough issues and the just walk away and wash your hands and pretend it has nothing to do with you," said SF mayoral candidate Michela Alioto-Pier.

"Some of the other candidates are perhaps, maybe for lack of a better word, a little desperate," said interim Mayor Ed Lee.

At the heart of the latest controversy is an email obtained by ABC7News. In it a man named Andrew Hawkins Cohen tells associates to come to a fundraiser: "Bring your check books and write a check for $500 for Ed Lee donation. You will be reimbursed right away..." That appears to be a form of money laundering which is against state law.

Lee says just like his rivals he is calling on the district attorney and the state to investigate.

"We've answered all the allegations and we've actually turned over our documents to the D.A. to investigate, so I don't have much to comment on that except that were running a real clean campaign,100 percent compliance," said Lee.

The new allegations come on the heels of an event in Chinatown where Lee's supporters are accused of manipulating the ballots of some voters. That's also being investigated as well as campaign contributions by an airport shuttle company.

"To me three criminal investigations in one election cycle is pretty dramatic," said SF mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera.

With just five days until the election the mayoral candidates say it is imperative that the district attorney conclude the investigations and announce the results.

But an expert on mayoral politics at San Francisco State University, Asst. Prof. Jason McDaniel, doesn't believe the controversy will have an impact on the election.

"For people who are strongly in support of Ed Lee that's not going to change their opinions most likely and people strongly against him, it's just going to add fuel to that as well. So at the end of the day. it's not going to matter much to voters," said McDaniel.

Approximately 45,000 absentee ballots have already been cast.

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