Peskin wants campaign finance transparency + SF’s one romantic city


Voters in San Francisco will likely be bombarded with political advertisements over the next four months, most of them funded by committees with bland names that conceal the true source of the money.

That rattles several candidates in a blistering mayor’s race and several fierce supervisor contests this year — some of those candidates have already been smeared in negative campaign mailers or television ads.


On Tuesday, Supervisor Aaron Peskin proposed a law that would reveal the people and entities behind those advertising campaigns.

His bill, which is scheduled to go before the city’s Ethics Commission on Friday, would require all major donors — people or entities who chip in more than $10,000 to any campaign committee — to disclose any investments worth $10,000 or more that either the donors or their family members have made in a San Francisco company.

The ordinance would also compel major contributors to reveal any San Francisco businesses in which they are employed or hold a high-level title, such as director, officer, partner, trustee or any other management position.

Additionally, the law would mandate that all committees sponsoring television ads disclose their top three sources of funding. And it would require that disclosures of donations greater than $10,000 — whether to a single committee, or split among several committees and candidates — be made to the Ethics Commission within 24 hours.

The idea, Peskin said, is to prevent a small group of elites from steering the city’s elections — and to let residents know who is trying to buy their votes.

Former Assemblyman and state Sen. Mark Leno spoke in favor of the law at a City Hall news conference Tuesday. He compared pile-on campaign spending in San Francisco with “a nuclear escalation” and said it has a corrupting influence on politics.

In January, Leno issued a campaign pledge for all the candidates in the mayor’s race, asking that they reject money from independent expenditure committees that raise unlimited funds and conceal their origin. So far, three of the four leading candidates — Leno, Supervisor Jane Kim and Angela Alioto — have signed on.

Peskin has asked Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who is also running for mayor, to fast-track his legislation by waiving the board’s 30-day rule, which requires a 30-day window before a proposed law is sent to committee.

— Rachel Swan

City of romance: Valentine’s Day may be the focal point of romance for many couples each year, but in San Francisco, love has been thickening the air consistently over the past four fiscal years.

The number of marriage licenses issued in San Francisco has jumped 52 percent since the 2007-08 fiscal year, according to data released Tuesday by Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu. There was a spike beginning in the 2013-14 fiscal year, when 10,993 licenses were recorded — over 2,000 more than the previous period. The assessor-recorder’s office is responsible for recording and maintaining marriage licenses.

Recorder Carmen Chu (right), archivist Susan Goldstein and Karen Sundheim, library Gay and Lesbian Center head, look at marriage certificates from 2004. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle


Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle


Recorder Carmen Chu (right), archivist Susan Goldstein and Karen Sundheim, library Gay and Lesbian Center head, look at marriage certificates from 2004.

Recorder Carmen Chu (right), archivist Susan Goldstein and Karen…

Just what’s behind the spike is difficult to say, but 2013 was the year that counties across California began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples again following a series of federal court rulings that overturned Proposition 8, which prevented same-sex couples from marrying.

San Francisco doesn’t track whether marriages are same-sex or not, so there’s no data to suggest that same-sex marriages contributed to the overall rise in marriage license applications, but it’s possible. Chu’s office also indicated that the last few years of economic boom times in San Francisco could be contributing to the surge in marriages.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in recorded marriages here — a sign that love is alive and well in San Francisco,” Chu said in an email.

So far this fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30, San Francisco has recorded 7,056 marriage licenses, putting it on track to top the 11,419 licenses issued in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

— Dominic Fracassa

Email: cityinsider@sfchronicle.com, rswan@sfchronicle.com, dfracassa@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfcityinsider, @rachelswan, @dominicfracassa

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