Run, Ed, Run Attorney Stephen Kaufman Is Also Joanna Rees' Attorney
|Who the hell is running Run, Ed, Run?|
Of the five candidates, however, only Joanna Rees had the joy of opening up the paper and seeing her attorney quoted defending the very people of whom she was calling for a city investigation.
When Rees' staffers asked her if it was okay for her campaign's legal counsel, Stephen Kaufman, to work for the amorphously named Progress for All, she said no problem. That group, however, is the driving force behind Run, Ed, Run. And if Ed really does run, run, run -- or has been in touch with his fervent followers -- then Rees will have some words for her attorney. "If Ed is involved in that group trying to draft him, then my lawyer will be working for another candidate," she says. "I'm not comfortable with that -- because you just don't do that."
Progress for All was formed as an unaffiliated political committee, and is eligible to receive unlimited funds. A candidate committee, meanwhile, is limited to a $500 ceiling per donation. "It kinda looks now like a candidate committee," Rees says.
Per an e-mail read to SF Weekly by Rees campaign manager Nick Panagopoulos, Kaufman was up front about Progress for All's affection for Lee:
This will confirm our telephone conversation today in which you agree that Kauffman Legal Group may provide legal counsel for Progress for All, an organization that, among other things, is involved in a campaign to draft Mayor Ed Lee as a candidate for mayor. We have not been retained to advise the organization with connections to any campaign expenditures to support or oppose candidates for mayor. We do not believe our legal services will result in any actual or potential conflicts of interest involving Joanna Rees.
Yet since Progress for All isn't exactly what Rees figured it was, this connection has resulted in awkwardness. Reached for comment, Kaufman said he'd have to talk to his client before he got back to us; in this case, he meant Rees.
Whether she remains his client much longer is no sure thing.
"I'm sure Nick and I will be talking about that this afternoon," she said.
Update, 11:59 a.m.: Both Rees' campaign and Kaufman say they don't believe the lawyer's simultaneous work constitutes a conflict of interest. When asked whether this is awkward, however, Kaufman replies, "It's certainly an interesting development."
Kaufman claims Progress for All "is not making expenditures on behalf of any candidate in the race. ... I don't work for Ed Lee. I am counsel for Progress for All. They're not involved in the mayor's race."
Progress for All, he claims, "is not working on behalf of any other candidate in the mayor's race. I will not work for them if they do."