Spontaneous uprising across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder have spurred new calls from the public for accountability from elected officials, specifically surrounding police officer association campaign donations.
Police officer associations making contributions to state or federal representatives is nothing new, but the current moment has drawn every contribution and the politicians who accept them into the spotlight.
Senator Scott Wiener (D-11) and his reelection campaign was one such local example. Wiener on May 31 was challenged by his opponent, Indigenous organizer Jackie Fielder, to not accept any more police union money and to donate the $72,000 he has received from police unions during multiple campaigns over the past decade.
Fielder, who has stood by her campaign pledge against accepting police union contributions, circulated a No Police Money Pledge last week. This, in combination with other outside pressure — Wiener was called out publicly at a Mission District march Wednesday — led him to pledge a $25,000 donation.
While this is something, it falls far short of acceptable to Fielder, given that $47,000 in state Senate contributions was unaccounted for. He declined to reject future law-enforcement PAC contributions.
Fielder decried this response as inadequate and deceiving in a June 4 press release, saying:
“He has a long record of siding with law enforcement special interests against reform. He now seeks ‘forgiveness’ for his past actions by only returning the funds collected to his re-election committee. This is at least $47,000 short of where it needs to be and seriously undermines any effort to convince voters that his new stance is anything more than political double-talk.”
Official campaign contribution filings show that Wiener raked in nearly $50,000 in contributions to his 2016 state Senate campaign and over $18,000 in contributions toward his 2020 reelection campaign.
The sustained backlash later pushed Wiener to reverse his position on future contributions. In addition, he promised to donate $20,000 — just over what he received this cycle in reelection contributions — to youth organizations to compensate.
The paltry reversal came with an attack on Fielder’s campaign in which Wiener claimed his opponent had “benefitted from campaign funds from the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association.”
Fielder disputed the assertion and corrected Wiener, offering her filings in a show of transparency. The Senator has so far refused to give back the $4,000 he received from the Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Calling for Wiener to be held accountable for the false claims, Fielder said:
“We have enough gaslighting and ‘alternative facts’ coming from the White House. We don’t need them in San Francisco.”
“If his current strategy is that he can only win re-election by smearing our campaign with misinformation, that tells me that we are in a very strong position to win in November.”