A San Francisco shuttle company accused of laundering money and violating campaign contribution limits with illegal donations to Mayor Ed Lee's election campaign pleaded guilty on Wednesday, agreeing to pay nearly $100,000 in fines.
According to the Examiner, GO Lorrie airport shuttle and two of its executives agreed to three years of probation each and were fined a combined total of nearly $100,000.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon filed charges against GO Lorrie after an investigation by the Bay Citizen revealed $11,500 in campaign contributions to Lee's mayoral campaign.
The contributions had been funneled through nearly two dozen of the company's employees and their family members--donations allegedly promised to be reimbursed by a manager. Per San Francisco campaign law, $500 is the maximum amount an individual can contribute to a single candidate.
Two GO Lorrie's drivers, Darrin Yuan and Paul Hsu, both of San Francisco, independently said in interviews that they had donated to Lee because a manager, Jason Perez, promised to reimburse them. The workers did not know whether the manager was acting on his own or on behalf of the company.
The contributions were made in mid-September, shortly after airport officials reversed a decision to overhaul curbside parking rules that would have given the dozen shuttle companies at the airport equal opportunity to solicit exiting passengers.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Perez's attorney claimed Perez had been directed by his grandfather, who died shortly thereafter, to make the illegal donation because he felt his company was being pushed out by larger airport shuttle companies.
"This is something that Jason Perez got into because he was not a politically savvy person," said his attorney, Tony Brass, to the Chronicle.
Lee denied any affiliation with the company, and returned all contributions his campaign had received that had any connection to GO Lorrie.
"We thought, 'This is suspicious,' and we returned them," a spokesperson for Lee told the Bay Citizen at the time. "You have no idea the extent we go to to make sure all our contributions are above board. We have an entire compliance operation, exactly because of the scrutiny that we're under."