Political consultant arrested for possession, distribution of child pornography

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires) -- A prominent San Francisco political consultant was arrested Thursday evening on suspicion of possession and distribution of child pornography, San Francisco Police said Friday.

Enrique Pearce, a 41-year-old San Francisco resident, was arrested at about 5 p.m. Thursday when San Francisco police served a search warrant at an address in the Tenderloin neighborhood, according to SFPD spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan.

Gatpandan said the warrant to search the property, located on McAllister Street near Leavenworth Street, was the culmination of a child pornography investigation.

Police located Pearce and arrested him on suspicion of five felony counts, including possession and distribution of child pornography, possession of over 600 images of child pornography, possession of material involving sexual sadism or sexual masochism, as well as possession of stolen property.

Gatpandan said investigators have not announced what evidence led them to Pearce.

Pearce was briefly jailed but as of Friday evening, was out of custody, and awaiting a court date next week.

Pearce's company "Left Coast Communications" has worked on political campaigns for U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, as well as San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee, among others.

He has been especially close with Mayor Lee, supporting the "Run Ed Run" campaign in 2011 to convince the then-interim Mayor to run for a full-term. More recently, he has been a paid consultant on Lee's re-election. Friday, Lee's office issued this statement:

"Mayor Lee is profoundly shocked. These are deeply disturbing and serious charges, and he trusts law enforcement to fully investigate and prosecute, if true. The Mayor has also directed his campaign to terminate all ties with Mr. Pearce and his firm, effective immediately."

Pearce has also been instrumental in the City Hall career of Supervisor Jane Kim, managing her first campaign in 2010 and her re-election last year.

From Kim Friday evening, this statement:

"I am shocked and appalled by the serious charges today against Mr. Pearce. Words cannot express my disappointment."

In 2007, Pearce established Pearce Law Offices, which handles employment, labor, and contract law, according to the law firm's website. The law firm is located in the same office as Left Coast Communications.

Prior to graduating from the University of California at Berkeley's School of Law, Pearce studied communication at Northwestern University.

According to Pearcelawoffices.com, "In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Pearce has worked in and around politics and government in San Francisco for the past decade. He has worked as a legislative aide to members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and has been regularly hired as a political consultant on a number of campaigns."

Enrique Pearce got his political start as an aide for then-Supervisor Matt Gonzales, who is now chief deputy in the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.

"At the end of the day, a crime is a crime regardless of who it may be," SFPD spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi told KTVU, "so whoever you are and whatever your political ties are, you're going to be held accountable."