While we often hear about the powerful disappearing their opponents, never to be heard from again, there’s another disappearing that the wealthy and the wicked use to their advantage. One that rewards/protects loyal soldiers who are under scrutiny or scandal, and whisks them away from the spotlight so both they and their scandal(s) will fade from public memory. I plan to make Missing Persons a series of ongoing posts to highlight some of these people and remind folks how little effort it takes for the state to make even the most disturbing scandals vanish.

Who better to begin with than Enrique Pearce? Pearce was a powerful political consultant in the Bay Area (Rep. Barbara Lee), though San Francisco was his general focus. He came up as a legislative aide to Matt Gonzalez and worked on his mayoral bid, as well as helping elect Jane Kim to the Board of Supervisors. By 2011 he was a key player in San Francisco’s progressive circles.

2011 is also the year Pearce switched sides and helped craft the Run, Ed, Run campaign, designed to appear as a grassroots effort to convince then-interim mayor Ed Lee to abandon his promise not to run for election. In reality, the campaign was a planned-in-advance stunt that hid the fact was Lee was planning to run anyway.

Pearce used money and influence filtered from the Chinatown power player/progressive bogeywoman Rose Pak to convince Lee to “Run, Ed, Run,” which dominated political headlines last summer. The unofficial campaign to draft Lee to run for a full term in office began with a photo shoot at Rainbow Grocery, where Pearce declined to identify himself or the campaign’s purpose to a local blogger. The campaign ended up at the Ethics Commission in August, accused of campaign law violations. It was fully exonerated.

Once Lee “acquiesced” to “grassroots” demands that he run, Run, Ed, Run faded away to be replaced by independent expenditure committees such as SF Neighbor Alliance,  focused on getting Lee votes by any mean necessary.

In the fall, controversy again followed Pearce when volunteers for the SF Neighbor Alliance, another independent expenditure committee formed to support Lee, were videotaped by a rival campaign helping elderly Chinese voters fill out their ballots, in some cases with a stencil. “That crossed the line,” Pearce says now. The campaign also published an unauthorized biography of Lee, an “instabook” dropped on tens of thousands of doorsteps in late October.

By May 2015, life was working out well for Pearce. He was firmly nestled into a corrupt City Hall, a valuable consultant who continually Got It Done for the right people. On May 7, however, police raided his apartment, seizing computers filled with photos and videos of children being sexually abused. His phone stored 115 images of children “in his preferred age range of 8 to 12” taken covertly throughout the city, including on the steps of City Hall. While his clients immediately severed ties with him, the state began clearing his path to freedom, attempting to keep his bail relatively low and explaining how the charges weren’t that bad:

Prosecutors asked the judge to increase Pearce’s bail to $400,000 due to the serious nature of the charges and said some of the images found in Pearce’s possession showed toddlers being sodomized by adult males and young children under 8 years old being tied up.

Burke disagreed with the higher bail amount and said this is not a case of child molestation, but charges of possession of images.

Pearce’s bail was finally set at $400,000, up from the original $250,000, but imagine a judge being hesitant to raise bail because the defendant was allegedly “only” looking at, and distributing, child pornography. The evidence was so serious Pearce was ordered to stay away from children a month later, yet the court was mystified why Pearce shouldn’t re-enter society until his trial date.

Ah yes, his trial. The one that never came. After a series of court appearances following his arrest, Pearce’s trial was set for June 12. Nothing happened on that date and coverage of Enrique Pearce stopped for over a year. It took Lauren Chief Elk and I throwing Pearce’s name around like a Frisbee on Twitter, and a little trolling of San Francisco DA George Gascón, to conjure Pearce’s name into public record again. That yielded a “Stay Tuned” from Gascón, and the scheduling of an October 19 court date that…well, we don’t know. The media wandered off again, allowing Pearce to re-schedule to a future date that may or may not ever be named.

So. If you see Mr. Pearce, know what he’s up to or just where he’s been passing his days, be sure to let us know so I can update this article on the whereabouts of an alleged child predator currently being sheltered by the state. Feel free to email or @ me at @bandcreview.

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