San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon today said he’s filing misdemeanor criminal charges against an airport passenger shuttle company that he says illegally funneled contributions to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s campaign last year.
Lorrie’s Travel & Tours Inc., better known as GO Lorrie’s, is among the larger shuttle companies serving San Francisco International Airport. Gascon said the company made $11,500 in illegal contributions to Lee’s campaign by passing the money through its drivers and staff; also charged are company general manager Jason Perez, 40, of San Mateo, and Hanan Qutami, 56, of South San Francisco.
“Campaign finance and disclosure laws help to ensure fairness and transparency in our elections, and my office takes the violation of these laws very seriously,” Gascon said in a news release. “After a thorough investigation, we have found clear evidence to charge Go Lorrie’s and two of its employees with making illegal campaign contributions.”
The situation was highlighted by Lee’s rivals during last year’s campaign, but it wasn’t enough to derail Lee’s candidacy. His campaign returned the contributions soon after questions were first raised.
Perez allegedly solicited 23 GO Lorrie drivers, dispatchers, administrators and their spouses to each write a $500 personal check to the Ed Lee for Mayor campaign, and later kept his promise that the company would reimburse them.
Each of the defendants is charged with 23 counts of violating state Government Code section 84301 (making a campaign contribution in a name other than the true name of the contributor). Each also is charged with one count of violating San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code section 1.114(a) (contributing over $500 to a campaign committee in a municipal election) and one count of violating section 1.114(b) (making a campaign contribution by a corporation in a municipal election).
UPDATE @ 5:30 P.M.: “The Mayor appreciates the thorough investigation conducted by the District Attorney, and his campaign assisted and aided this investigation at the time,” says Christine Falvey, Lee’s communications director. “The individuals indicted today were not associated in any way with the campaign and the mayor fully expects anyone who breaks the law to be held fully accountable.”
UPDATE @ 6:43 P.M.: Click here to read the Bay Citizen story that sparked the investigation.