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SF City Attorney Calls For Investigation Of Contributions To Lee Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- One of Mayor Ed Lee's rivals has called on local, state and federal prosecutors to investigate several questionable donations to his campaign from employees at an airport shuttle company.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said 17 donations that were sent to Lee from Go Lorrie's supervisors and drivers after airport officials changed a policy about where shuttles and taxis park should be scrutinized.

Lee's campaign had already started giving back those donations and a half-dozen others after an internal investigation raised questions about the integrity of the funds.

"We returned these contributions of our own review and concerns," said Lee's campaign spokesman, Tony Winnicker.

KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports:

Several Go Lorrie's employees came forward with stories of being pressured by supervisors to write $500 checks to Lee's campaign that were then reimbursed in cash by the company.

"You have admissions now of potential criminal conduct," Herrera said.

Since Herrera is also running for mayor, the City Attorney's Office cannot handle the investigation. Herrera nevertheless insisted an investigation by local prosecutors or the California Fair Political Practices Commission was justified given the appearance of "pay to play" politics.

"Investigations are warranted when credible allegations risk undermining the public trust in our local government," he said.

Winnicker agreed, while also pointing out Herrera's call for an investigation was politically motivated.

He fired back, asking Herrera to "join us in investigating his own operation, his own campaign and his own city attorney's office over his violations as well."

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier noted that the Lee campaign acted swiftly to try and contain the Go Lorrie's scandal.

"They were suspicious about how drivers were coming across with $500 and actually had begun to return the checks on Thursday morning just as this story was breaking," Matier said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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