Behind the Curtain with the SF League of Pissed Off Voters

Why are we here?
A self-described neoliberal who is running for the Democratic County Central Committee (and, incidentally, chose not to respond to our questionnaire) recently published a “hit piece” on the League. It’s inaccurate, misleading, and silly. It’s also scary because he published stuff about our employers, our housing situations, etc. We initially chose to ignore him to not give any more attention to his campaign, but because the internet has a way of fanning the fake news flames and now other folks are asking questions, here’s a quick rundown on how the San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters works.

As an all-volunteer group, we often get snowed under with all the work it takes to put out our voter guide — especially with the super quick turnaround for this March election — and we don’t do as good a job as we’d like to of reaching out to new members or explaining how we do things. So in the spirit of doing better at that:

Who decides on the League’s endorsements?
Our members vote on our endorsements at meetings that are open to the public and publicized on our website, facebook, and email list. To qualify as a voting member, you have to make a small contribution and volunteer four hours at official League events in the last year. Non-members are welcome to participate in the discussions at our endorsement meetings before we vote. See more details on our endorsement process here.

Who is on the League Steering Committee?
Our completely volunteer-run Steering Committee manages the logistics of the League — scheduling our meetings, bottom-lining getting the voter guide written and designed and printed, hosting bar crawls and other GOTV events, updating our website and social media, etc. The Steering Committee facilitates our processes — it doesn’t decide on our endorsements.

We don’t currently publish the members of our steering committee, because some of us are uncomfortable with being publicly exposed to the hard knocks of SF politics — like getting doxxed by people mad at us because our politics differ. We’ll consider publishing this in the future, but we’re not inclined to do so in response to this hamfisted attempt at doxxing us.

But also, we’re hiding in plain sight. Our meetings are open to the public, there are photos of us on social media, and our members know who we are. More importantly, we’ve built a reputation over the last 25 San Francisco elections that tens of thousands of voters trust. We don’t have any agenda beyond geeking out on local politics and helping educate our fellow pissed-off progressive voters.

Do you only endorse candidates who agree 100% with your questionnaire?
Of course not. Like most political groups, we ask candidates to answer a questionnaire to inform our endorsement process and get them on the record. We always publish the questions and the responses to our questionnaires to help inform the public.

As you can read for yourself on our website, almost all of the candidates we endorsed disagreed with us on some items or left them blank. Also, the League doesn’t even have a position on a lot of the questions we ask — we’re just trying to understand the candidates and how they approach issues we care about. None of the questions are required, so candidates can answer as many or as few of them as they like, and they can provide any context in an essay question at the end.

Who funds the League?
Our funding comes from a mix of contributions from our members and from campaigns. Like many grassroots campaigns, we have a ton of small-dollar donors. For the price of a pupusa, we can print 100 voter guides. Aside from a handful of folks who get paid for a few hours of distributing the voter guide to far-flung corners of the city, we’re an all-volunteer group. Every dime we raise goes into producing and distributing our voter guide.

The League’s Fundraising and Endorsement Guidelines

  • Before we make endorsements, we don’t discuss contributions with any campaigns.
  • During our endorsement process, we don’t discuss our budget or campaigns’ ability to contribute to us.
  • After our members vote on our endorsements, we ask the campaigns that we endorse to contribute to help produce the voter guide. This is a common practice among political groups that need to cover the costs of designing and printing slate cards.
  • We do not discuss campaigns’ placement in our voter guide or how much real estate we’ll give them. (Many slate cards base the size of a candidate’s photo on how much they contribute.)
  • We do not provide campaigns with advanced copies of our voter guide or any editorial input on what we write.
  • If campaigns who donate to us object to what we say about them in our voter guide, we offer to refund their donation. We don’t make edits to our voter guide unless there are factual errors or new shit has come to light.
  • We distribute our voter guides mostly hand-to-hand, giving us a chance to meet and interact with San Francisco voters.
  • We offer to give copies of our voter guide to campaigns to distribute on their own. For campaign finance purposes, we report the cost of printing these voter guides as an “in-kind donation” to the campaigns. If you look at our campaign finance statements and see us donating to campaigns, we aren’t actually giving anyone money. We only give them boxes of our voter guides, and we make sure that the amount we give them doesn’t exceed campaign contribution limits.
  • When campaigns pledge to donate to us, send them an invoice for Ethics reporting purposes.
  • All of our financial disclosures are available at in the City and County of San Francisco Public Portal for Campaign Finance, Lobbyist and Campaign Consultant Disclosure database in the Statements section, under the Committee name, “San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters”.

So now what?
We hope that answers your questions. If not, email us at [email protected] and we’ll try to respond as long as you promise not to doxx us or write another asinine hit piece on us. But honestly, if you think we’re full of shit, write your own voter guide explaining why. We would much rather geek out debating policy.

P.S. While hater noise sure gets us down, we LOVE talking to SF voters about the issues we care about in the streets, on Muni, on campuses, and in our neighborhoods. Thanks for the love that so many of you send our way every election — we feel it! If you like what we do and want to get involved, get on our email list or check our website or facebook for pub crawls and other opportunities to volunteer, donate if you can, help us educate voters on local races before the March 3rd primary, and become a member of the League!

Curious what all the fuss is about? Check out our Pissed Off Voter Guide for the March 3, 2020 primary election — an 8,000 word democracy bomb of sharp analysis and inside baseball.

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  • The League
    published this page in Blog 2020-02-18 11:38:11 -0800

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