Broke-Ass for Mayor Part 4: So Much Paper Work
This column was supposed to be in the SF Examiner a few weeks ago, but when I took out my papers I received a stern lecture from the San Francisco Ethics Commission about how I couldn’t write about my experiences as a candidate for the paper without falling foul of campaign finance laws. While we sort out campaign issues that will hopefully keep me on the up and up of state laws, I will be writing about my campaign on this site.
No one told me there would be this much paper work. I mean, I didn’t think I could just float into the Department of Elections and be like “Alright folks, your boy Stuart has a check for you, now put me on the ballot,” but I also didn’t realize just how many things had to happen before the race even started.
It’s not that I’m not a detail oriented person, it’s that I’m a detail agnostic person. I go through life believing that there is a chance that details exist that I have to handle, but I often can’t be bothered to focus on them. Like most loudmouths and blowhards (ahem, people running for public office), I’m interested in the big picture, the messaging, and the meaning behind the messaging. I wanna create change through sheer force of will, good ideas, and rabble rousing, and hope the details sort themselves out in the process. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that is not how running for public office works. In politics the devil really is in the details, meaning that if they are not paid attention to, your ass is gonna end up in jail or massively fined.
This has given me a new appreciation for politicians who end up behind bars. There are so many laws that seem completely random that it’s easy to see how someone can screw them up. For example: if we need pens and I go and buy them, the campaign can’t legally reimburse me. It can reimburse anyone else involved with my mayoral run, but not me. I’m sure there are perfectly good reasons for this, but I just don’t know what they are. And there are scores of little laws like this that can very easily be broken if you’re not paying attention. From now on when I hear about a politician getting locked up for doing something illegal I’ll think “He probably is guilty, but there is a chance that wearing white after Labor Day can somehow be legally construed as having to do with racketeering if you’re a senator and the dude just didn’t know.”
Luckily for me I’ve convinced the very brilliant and astute Amiee Kushner to be my treasurer. She is not just someone who is good at details, she actually loves them. Thank God, Buddha, Moses, and all the Wiccan deities.
A few mornings before the paperwork deadline I woke to this email:
Just a reminder, you need the following in by Tues at 5pm:
– Nomination signatures
– Declaration of Candidacy
– Declaration of Filing Under Legal Name
– Declaration of Name in Chinese Characters
– pay filing fee
– Candidate qualification statement (200 words for the voter guide)
– Statement of economic interests (form 700)
– The committee formation (form 410) is not legally required in until we have $1000 in donations, but I would prefer to get it in now so I can get online access for the rest of the filings.
To make the process more complicated you have to go to two separate places to get all your stuff done. The Department of Elections is in the basement of City Hall and the Ethics Commission is at 25 Van Ness, and each one has different requirements that have little or nothing to do with the other. So the morning before the deadline Amiee and I met up with the rest of the team, Ashley, Leef, and Alex, and we made sure all the paperwork was ready and that BrokeAssMayor.com was up and running. Then I went downtown, visited the Ethics Commission, then City Hall, then the Ethics Commission again (because I almost forgot something) and then finally became an official candidate for mayor of San Francisco. It’s going to be a very crazy year, I’m glad you’re along for the ride.