Updated Aug. 24 at 9:30 a.m.
District 4 supervisorial candidate Leanna Louie today referred to Joe Eskenazi, managing editor of Mission Local, as “EskeNAZI” in a post shared on Facebook and Instagram.
In the same antisemitic post, Louie referred to Chris Thomas and Ann Ravel, two election experts quoted in Eskenazi’s most recent story, as “his friends” and “members of the Weather Underground,” a radical left-wing terror group most active in the 1970s.
The post comes on the tail of reporting from Eskenazi, who is Jewish, on Louie’s apparent voting irregularities. Louie first described the allegations in that Aug. 10 article as “fake news,” and denied any wrongdoing.
Elections Department director John Arntz has since referred her to the District Attorney for alleged voter fraud. Mission Local has learned that Louie and her lawyers met with the City Attorney Monday over related allegations of residency fraud. The outcome of that meeting has not been announced.
On Tuesday, Louie was interviewed by a KQED reporter, and later used the news outlet’s photo booth to take photos that she shared in her post. “Have I shared these fun photos we took at KQED,” she wrote. “It was so nice to talk to a journalist who actually had a dialogue with me. Unlike Joe EskeNAZI … ”
“I am used to stuff like this, ever since grade school, when they teach non-Jews what the Holocaust is,” said Eskenazi.
“I think Ms. Louie owes an apology to Chris Thomas, the famously non-partisan 36-year election director of Michigan, and Ann Ravel, an Obama appointee to the Federal Election Commission, whom she described as terrorists,” he added.
Louie has previously written anti-George Soros posts and comments on her personal Facebook account. Soros has been a lightning rod for antisemitic hate for decades.
Several supervisors and other San Francisco politicians have condemned today’s comments from the would-be supe.
“I think Louie should withdraw,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is Jewish. “She is not ready to be a supervisor.”
“Joe Eskenazi is not a reporter I always agree with,” she said. “Sometimes I get really frustrated with his reporting. But what I know about him is that he has the highest level of integrity, and takes his profession extremely seriously.”
“She is trying to silence a reporter who is doing real investigative journalism,” Ronen added.
Aaron Peskin, supervisor for District 3, called Louie’s comments “the musings of a crazy person who is not fit to take public office.”
“The arena of electoral politics can be tough and toxic,” said Peskin, who is Jewish. “But I have never seen this kind of racist, antisemitic behavior from anybody in, or running for, public office in San Francisco, in the quarter of a century I have been involved in local politics.”
“The Weather Underground has not existed since I was a young child,” he said, adding that associating critics with the group was a “paranoid, broad-brush, McCarthyist tactic.”
(Former District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s parents were members of the Weather Underground when they were arrested in 1981. Leanna Louie was an ardent opponent of Boudin, and earned herself the title of his “No. 1 hater” during the recall campaign.)
“It is totally unacceptable for somebody seeking to join the board of supervisors to say something like that,” said Supervisor for District 7, Myrna Melgar, who is also Jewish.
“Louie’s shocking antisemitic and hateful comments are absolutely unacceptable,” said incumbent District 4 supervisor Gordon Mar. “She should immediately apologize to Joe Eskenazi and to the elections experts for her absurd and inflammatory remarks.”
He added that this was yet another instance of San Francisco’s increasingly “toxic” political atmosphere, and of the “extremism that has infected the discourse.”
Joel Engardio, the other candidate seeking to oust Gordon Mar from his District 4 seat, wrote that it “is unacceptable to politicize and weaponize the terrible history of when Nazis murdered millions of Jewish people and targeted others, including LGBTQ people like me,” and added that democracy is dependent on freedom of the press. He stopped short of cutting ties with Louie, who he had formerly aligned himself with during his supervisorial campaign.
The Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club released a statement condemning the posts, calling them the “latest round of baseless attacks” and “anti-Semitic.”
The San Francisco Examiner’s editorial board has called for Louie to withdraw her candidacy, writing that the post was an “ugly, bigoted attack.”
Louie’s post was first published around 2:20 p.m. It has since been edited to remove the capitalization of “NAZI” in Eskenazi’s name, but otherwise remains unchanged.
As of press time, Louie could not be reached for comment by phone or email.
Update: At 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, Louie tweeted an apology for her comments. She said that she had not been aware that Eskenazi was Jewish. She said that Eskenazi had written “several inflammatory articles” about her and that she had “expressed [her] frustration with Mr. Eskenazi’s barrage of news articles in a highly inaccurate manner.”