Commentary: Quentin Kopp

Kamala Harris’ Campaign Cash

By Quentin Kopp

It’s been said that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but politicians figure that once every four years is good enough.  

At press time, the presidential/vice-presidential result is unknown, but in this one-party state, California’s 55 electoral votes belong to Biden/Harris. In Harris’s case, that proves violation of law does pay for a Willie Brown protégé. 

After being hired in 1998 as a deputy district attorney by incumbent Terence Hallinan, she rewarded her benefactor by running against him in 2003. In 2002, she raised $563,000 for her campaign, much of it from high society types.  On Jan. 1, 2003, Harris signed under penalty of perjury a Department of Elections form agreeing to a $211,000 campaign expenditure limit. The form stated that once signed it couldn’t be withdrawn.  By July 30, 2003 she had spent $132,114.76 and could only spend an additional $79,255.24 to reach the $211,000 legal limit.  

On Sept. 20, 2005, she had raised $349, 564.13 and spent $302,346, exceeding her sworn spending limit by $91,446.  Legal penalties for violating the spending cap included removal from the ballot and a fine of $275,000.  Instead, a feckless Ethics Commission merely abolished the spending limit for all three candidates and fined her a paltry $34,000. Harris’s false statement about obeying the $211,000 spending limitation had already been printed on Sept. 25, 2003 in the Voter Information Pamphlet notifying voters Harris voluntarily had agreed to such limit.  

Harris eventually spent more than $1,150,000 compared to Hallinan’s $362,000 after the spending limit was lifted in the aftermath of Harris’s lies.  Moreover, she had the nerve to accuse D.A. Hallinan, now deceased, of “unethical (management) practices” and “unprofessional conduct.”  Harris herself, however, had been accused in 2000 of violating city ethical conduct law during a leave of absence to assist a supervisor’s unsuccessful reelection campaign. Her own 2003 falsehood could have resulted in criminal action against her and a five-year ban on running for any San Francisco elective office. This is our new vice president.

While supervisorial campaigns are still pending, we’ll watch District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s inaction against District 7 candidate, Vilaska Nguyen, Boudin’s deputy public defendant buddy to whom he contributed the maximum $500. Since Nov. 8, 2010, Nguyen has lived at 46 Otsego Ave. in District 11 with his two children and wife, who owns the house with Nguyen. After the November 2019 election, he re-registered at 216 Summit Way in District 7, renting a condominium which I predict will be vacated after Nov. 3.  His wife is registered to vote at 46 Otsego Ave.  Former San Francisco police officer Lou Barberini, a CPA, and I mailed Boudin criminal complaints about Nguyen lying to qualify as a candidate, and asked Boudin to disqualify himself from the investigation because of his personal donation to Nguyen’s campaign.  Except for a call from an office investigator to me and not Barberini, no action has occurred!

Appalling is the word best descriptive of the Board of Education which, confronting a multi-million dollar deficit and virus impediments to classroom instruction, plans to change the names of 44 San Francisco public schools, including Washington, Lincoln, Lowell, Mission, Balboa, Presidio, Alamo, Clarendon, Commodore Sloat, Ulloa, Sutro, Sheridan, Sherman, Feinstein, Lakeshore, Jefferson, Noriega, and Garfield (don’t forget El Dorado!). A committee including one non-resident and four Native Americans has so recommended. The estimated renaming cost is $10 million.  

Meanwhile, the Board of Education ends academic requirements for admission to Lowell High School, and continues a school assignment system which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to bus pupils. Since 1970, the School District has championed desegregation of public schools. It’s 50 years later and a Board of Education member declared last month that the District’s assignment system has “made segregation in our schools worse and nobody really likes it.” The concept of neighborhood schools is unacceptable. A school system with about 93,000 pupils in 1970 and a citywide population of 725,000 residents now contains but 50,000 pupils with a residential population of 880,000. It’s no wonder private education and home-schooling flourish while we pay property and parcel taxes to support a disastrous system.

With its record-breaking $13.8 billion budget, City Hall confronts a probable $1.5 billion deficit, but nevertheless employs 83 public information officers (a.k.a., “flaks”) and associated positions at a cost of $10.3 million in salaries and benefits. The pay amounts range from $142,587 to $219,962 annually. City departments with multiple “flaks” include the Airport, Art, Child Support Services, Homelessness and Support of Housing, Library, Public Defender, Port, Human Rights and DPW. But, corruption continues without district attorney action. The United States Attorney unfortunately excused himself from the DPW and PUC cases because his wife used an involved contractor and inadvertently met with DPW engineers regarding a contract resulting in millions in graft.

Although a chap once noted that Patrick Henry should come back and see what taxation with representation is like in San Francisco, California, we should be thankful for the good things we have and, also, for the bad things we don’t have. 

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Quentin Kopp is a former San Francisco supervisor, state senator, member of the SF Ethics Commission  and retired judge.

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