The first SF Mayoral debate is in less than two weeks, but London Breed may be a no-show, as there are ties surfacing between the debate’s tech PAC organizer, and both the Mark Farrell and Daniel Lurie campaigns.

The first San Francisco mayoral debate for the 2024 election is scheduled less than two weeks away, on May 20. And it’s being organized by the political action committee (PAC) Together SF Action, the same folks who are behind those bizarre “That’s Fentalife!” ads, and who’ve traditionally been pretty friendly to Breed.

But Breed's camp is apparently upset that Together SF has been even more friendly toward a couple of her opponents (and perhaps flouting campaign laws in the process), in a long, involved saga that includes secret $15,000-a-month job offers, campaign officials working for tech PACs, a married couple running two separate supposedly unaffiliated tech PACs, and for good measure, the husband in that couple being dogged by 14-year-old sexual assault allegations.

According to a new report in Politico, Breed’s campaign is threatening to boycott the debate because of Together SF’s admittedly thorough ties to the Farrell campaign (it’s the third story down in the article). As the SF Standard explains, Together SF founder and CEO Kanishka Cheng is a former Farrell staffer, the organization's former chief of staff Jade Tu is now Farrell’s campaign manager,  Farrell campaign staffer Margaux Kelly is currently on leave from Together SF, and Farrell’s mayoral campaign spokesperson Jess Montejano is currently contracted to handle communications for Together SF through his PR agency Riff City strategies. Oh, and SF Standard financier Michael Moritz also largely finances Together SF.  

And does it seem ethically sketchy that Kanishka Cheng is married to Jay Cheng, executive director of yet another tech PAC called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, which is SF’s biggest-spending PAC over the last four years? And that Jay Cheng offered someone a $15,000-a-month position to work for Farrell, as the Chronicle reported last month? Cheng also apparently connected Lurie “with a political consultant whom Lurie eventually hired,” though that was last April, before Lurie announced his candidacy.

Breed’s campaign has noticed. “We have real concerns with the debate and are reevaluating our participation,” Breed’s campaign spokesperson Joe Arellano told Politico. “Multiple moderators have dropped out and the continued instability around the planning of the debate are concerning with two weeks to go before the event.”

It’s unclear who all of these moderators were. But at least one of them has been reported to be SF Standard columnist Adam Lashinsky, so again, Moritz money. But Politico reports that Kanishka Cheng “announced a new co-moderator for the debate, Bloomberg California bureau chief Karen Breslau, after a few previous moderators backed out.”

Plus, add to this controversial mix that Jay Cheng is now facing a resurfaced set of sexual assault allegations from 2010, in the evolving story about the San Francisco Democratic Party’s new moderate majority forming a committee to investigate allegations against some progressive rivals. The Cheng allegations, obviously, complicate this.  

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Aaron Peskin had already declined to appear in the debate, again because of the connection to Together SF. And that may be a metaphor for Peskin’s strategy in this election: let the much better-funded rivals blow each other out of the water with their vast resources, and manage to be the one left standing.  

Related: Big-Money SF Tech Groups Hoping To Steer Friendlier Policy Toward Big Money and Tech [SFNews]

Image: @LondonBreed via Twitter