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Political Groups Have Spent Over $10 Million to Influence Upcoming SF Elections, New Filings Show

Written by Noah BaustinPublished Oct. 28, 2022 • 5:41pm
Corey Smith with Housing Action Coalition attends a press conference at City Hall on Oct. 26. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

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An ad accusing John Hamasaki of wanting to allow kids to carry illegal guns, mailers painting Joel Engardio as funded by Trump Republicans and Chinese-language pamphlets touting the merits of building housing for teachers have all contributed to the buckets of cash that political groups are spending in the hopes of influencing San Franciscans’ votes in the Nov. 8 election.

Campaign committees and independent political groups have spent over $10.3 million on 10 candidate contests and 15 ballot measures up for a vote in the Nov. 8 general election, according to new data from the SF Ethics Commission. 

In-person and mail-in voting has already begun, and it’s still up in the air if campaigns will spend enough in the final week and a half of the campaign to top the $17.6 million political groups spent in 2020. 

Regardless, the waterfall of cash flowing in this election cycle includes $2.5 million spent on competing housing propositions—and hundreds of thousands more pouring out in the competitive supervisor races in District 4 and District 6. 

Hamasaki, for his part, said the ad targeting him was spreading lies; Engardio said the attacks on him were baseless. 

Rival Housing Measures Attract Big Money

Affordable Homes Now San Francisco, the campaign committee advocating for the Mayor Breed-backed Prop. D, has received over $2.4 million, making it the wealthiest campaign committee out of all the races. Meanwhile, the campaign committee supporting Prop E has received over $939,000. 

Outside Money Dominates District 4

Independent political action committees have spent nearly $260,000 in their bid to keep incumbent Gordon Mar safe in his seat on the Board of Supervisors. That’s just about exactly as much as Mar’s opponent, Joel Engardio, has spent on the race himself. 

Engardio has benefited from independent expenditures, too, with outside groups dropping over $90,000 supporting his election.

Prop J Takes the Lead in Battle Over JFK Drive

Slow and steady may win the campaign finance race for San Franciscans hoping to keep cars off of Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive for good. 

After trailing Prop I, which would reopen JFK Drive and the Great Highway to cars, the pro-promenade committee took the lead this week, pulling in a total of nearly $764,000 in support of its cause. 

The Prop. I boosters, on the other hand, have still shelled out more cash than their competitors.

Dorsey’s Spending, Mahogany Close Behind

The fundraising battle is neck and neck in the District 6 Supervisor’s race. 

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Honey Mahogany has received more than her opponent, pulling in almost $481,000. Incumbent Matt Dorsey, on the other hand, has put more money into play, dropping $321,000 so far.

DA Candidates Spending Six Figures

Joe Alioto Veronese’s campaign has received over $265,000 this year, giving him the lead over incumbent Brooke Jenkins ($117,000) and challenger John Hamasaki ($135,000). 

Alioto Veronese, however, won’t be able to spend all that cash on this campaign; a sizable chunk of the funds came into a committee he set up for a 2023 run.

Prop. C: Spend It If You’ve Got It

The campaign committee encouraging voters to pass Prop. C has continued to rake in donations, despite its apparent lack of any serious opposition. 

Homeless Accountability Now has received over $581,000 to argue for a new commission to oversee SF’s Department of Homelessness. Nobody has formed a campaign committee to oppose the measure.

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Noah Baustin can be reached at [email protected]


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