Now, there may be lots of people who think Chicken John Rinaldi shouldn't be given public matching funds for his mayoral campaign because his showman's antics are making a mockery of San Francisco's election process. But when you think about it, San Francisco's elected officials make a mockery of their offices with such frequency you'd think the city and county charter required it. And, besides, no matter what you think of him, Rinaldi has now collected more than $30,000 in contributions, which clearly demonstrates his supporters are putting their money where their beaks are. Under San Francisco's election rules, candidates who raised $25,000 by Aug. 28 — which Rinaldi swears he did — qualify to receive $50,000 from the city.
So Chicken John Rinaldi is understandably clucking mad at Ethics Commission executive director John St. Croix, who says he will yet again deny him the 50K in campaign matching funds. This will be the third time St. Croix has refused to give Rinaldi the money because of paperwork problems.
Rinaldi says St. Croix is arbitrarily refusing to validate his documentation to silence the voice of his political supporters, who are mostly artists and those who claim they're artists for lack of a discernable career. Furthermore, St. Croix is thumbing his nose at the commission, which directed him by unanimous vote recently to re-examine the validity of Rinaldi's contributions, says Rinaldi's attorney Terry Gross.
But St. Croix says it's his job to protect the public from candidates who might try to get at that money without really qualifying for it. "We're not trying to dispossess a class of people, but what Gross wants me to do is give Rinaldi public funds," he said. "And I'm not handing over taxpayer money just because they say they qualify for it."
Chicken John's camp suspects St. Croix is being hardheaded because Rinaldi promised to commission campaign art and throw a big party with the 50 grand. Gross says there's nothing unusual about that. "The way other people use campaign funds are generally designed to promote the ideas of the candidacy, and very often that is done by bringing people together in one place to hear about them," the attorney says. "I don't think there's anything improper in what Mr. Rinaldi has said he would do with the campaign funds, or how he spent campaign funds so far."
Gross is — surprise — promising a lawsuit, although it may be too late, since the mayoral campaign is almost over.