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Politics & Policy

Daniel Lurie’s mother spends $1 million to help him win San Francisco mayor’s race

A composite image of mayoral candidate Daniel Lurie and his mother, businesswoman Mimi Haas.
Mayoral candidate Daniel Lurie, left, and his mother, businesswoman Mimi Haas. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard/Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

They say nothing is as powerful as a mother’s love. But for San Francisco mayoral candidate Daniel Lurie, a mother’s money could be a close second.

New billboards going up around town in support of Lurie’s run for mayor note that an independent committee backing the nonprofit founder—an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune—received $1 million from Mimi Haas, his mom.

Dan Newman, a political consultant in charge of the committee Believe in SF, Lurie for Mayor 2024, confirmed the contribution Monday in a text message, telling The Standard that the committee has raised roughly $3.5 million from more than 60 people. Other top donors disclosed in billboards include WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum and biotech investor Oleg Nodelman, each of whom plunked down $250,000.

A billboard for Daniel Lurie's mayoral campaign is seen disclosing the donors who paid for the advertisement, which includes a one million dollar donation from Lurie's mother, businesswoman Mimi Haas.
A billboard for an independent committee supporting Daniel Lurie's run for mayor of San Francisco is seen on Monday. A disclosure notes that Lurie's mother, businesswoman Mimi Haas, gave $1 million to the committee. | Source: Josh Koehn/The Standard

The committee, which is legally barred from coordinating with Lurie’s campaign, intends to put up dozens of pro-Lurie billboards across San Francisco in English, Spanish and Chinese.

“It’s a positive, upbeat campaign supported by a lot of people who believe in San Francisco and believe in Daniel Lurie—people who understand that this is a wonderful, struggling city poised for a comeback with new and competent leadership in City Hall,” Newman said. 

Lurie’s challenge to Mayor London Breed, who is seeking reelection in November, always had the potential to raise the stakes financially. 

His family’s wealth is one advantage—Lurie tapped his brother, artist Ari Lurie, for a $250,000 contribution to a ballot measure committee he’s running in support of public safety measure Proposition E—but he also has cultivated an elite network of friends and supporters through his anti-poverty nonprofit, Tipping Point, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

Newman said the billboards will help Lurie level the playing field against Breed’s “powerful advantages of incumbency,” as well as the committees the mayor formed to support three measures she placed on the March ballot, including Prop. E.

Maggie Muir, the mayor’s campaign manager, told The Standard in a text message that she was unimpressed with Lurie and his supporters’ strategy.

“His mom is bankrolling one committee. His brother is funding another,” Muir said. “And he's getting all his policy ideas from Mayor Breed.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed shares a laugh with Willie Brown after her 2019 state of the city speech.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, left, and former Mayor Willie Brown share a laugh after Breed delivered the State of the City address in San Francisco on Jan. 30, 2019. | Source: Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

The seven-figure contribution from Haas—the widow of Peter E. Haas, who was the great-grandnephew of Levi Strauss—could be the largest contribution to a committee in support or opposition of a candidate in San Francisco history. 

William Oberndorf spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin in 2022, but that money was routed through committees that have been involved in a variety of political issues in the city. A search of campaign records on the San Francisco Ethics Commission’s website going back more than 25 years found that the closest contribution to a candidate-focused committee was a $925,000 contribution Angela Alioto made to her own mayoral campaign in 2006.

Wednesday marks the deadline for campaign filings related to the pro-Lurie committee and March ballot measures, which should reveal more details on the money going toward and against Breed, Lurie and Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who announced his candidacy for mayor last year. Altogether, this year’s race for mayor seems likely to shape up as the most expensive in city history. 

A campaign filing last week for an independent pro-Breed committee—Forward Action SF, Supporting London Breed for Mayor 2024—reported more than $202,000 in expenses on mailers and radio and print ads. More than $65,000 in contributions were reported, mostly from local real estate companies. 

The mayor’s mother was not listed as a contributor.

Josh Ram contributed to this story.
Josh Koehn can be reached at josh@sfstandard.com