Like many other cities across America, San Francisco is attempting to raise its minimum wage and fill a gap caused by federal and state incompetence. The city's voters in the upcoming election will decide whether to up the local minimum wage from $10.74 to $15 an hour, boosting incomes of the most vulnerable workers in the hyper-gentrifying city.
But as one Valleywag tipster noticed, Sean Parker has swept in to drape his name on pro-minimum wage campaign banners—donating the bare minimum to get there. It's all part of Parker's new political persona. Recently, the former Facebook president has donated $1 million to California's water bond and rainy day fund initiatives, amongst his more troubling donations.
As our tipster put it:
San Francisco has a minimum wage ballot measure this November. It is the fruit of community pressure, NOT politician pressure... and it is going to win BIG in November—polls say 70-something percent of voters support it.
So what does [Mayor] Ed Lee do with this opportunity? Sets up a committee after the fact, solicits huge checks from his banker/VC types, puts up signs all over town saying MAJOR FUNDING BY SEAN PARKER (thereby turning the campaign into Parker's shot at redemption), and films crowd shots that will obviously be used mostly for his re-elect commercials. Even on an issue of near-consensus—the minimum wage—the mayor of San Francisco is acting for the good of himself and of his donors. If Sean Parker really cared about raising the minimum wage, his money would go much further in Oklahoma or even Sacramento than in a city where it is going to win.
Forbes famously called Sean Parker an "agent of disruption," but what he is disrupting here? Ed Lee's falling poll numbers among voters or his own bad reputation in popular culture? And of course, Parker was nowhere to be found when an SF Supervisor had to slap down Facebook on behalf of drag queens. That said, I guess it's Sean's town and we're all just votin' in it! Given that Sean has just taken a major turn to the Republicans, not sure how that will all work.
Let's be clear: any financial support of raising the minimum wage is welcome. While the increase was almost guaranteed to pass before Parker's donation, he is certainly coming down on the right side of the issue. But having his name plastered behind San Francisco's mayor at a campaign rally makes it seem more like an ad for Sean Parker, Political Operator.
A financial disclosure submitted to the state last week says Sean Parker donated $50,000 dollars to the minimum wage initiative on October 1st. According to state election law, that's the threshold contribution needed to mandate campaigns publicly list someone as a "major donor." For contrast, fellow venture capitalist Ron Conway donated $49,000 earlier in the campaign. So, basically, Conway came in right under the limit to not be listed, and Parker donated the bare minimum to get his name published.
Parker is also the chief financier of a Republican automobile rights initiative, which seeks to force support of private cars in the city at the expense of bicycling and public transit. His name does not appear of on any of those campaign materials.
Photo via Tipster