Donald Dewsnup pleads no contest to voter fraud

San Francisco real estate agent and housing development advocate Donald Dewsnup pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of false voter registration Wednesday, avoiding prosecution on felony charges.

Dewsnup was initially charged in April last year with three felony counts of filing a false document with a government agency, two felony counts of perjury and two felony counts of false voter registration.

Prosecutors alleged that he registered to vote in a district in which he did not live in and also provided a false address to the California Bureau of Real Estate.

He is expected to be sentenced to 100 hours of community service and three years of probation in return for his plea on the lesser charges.

The district where he claimed residence, District 3, had a hotly contested election in the fall of 2015 between incumbent Julie Christensen and then-former Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Peskin’s defeat of Christensen in November was seen as a significant loss for Mayor Ed Lee, who had backed Christensen, and a crucial shift in the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors.

Dewsnup was an active member of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation, a group that promotes housing development. The group has been openly critical of Peskin, among others, for what it views as anti-growth, “NIMBY” political views.

Allegations of voter fraud first surfaced against Dewsnup in 2015 when he was involved in an unsuccessful effort to overthrow the leadership of the local Sierra Club chapter. The club was targeted by SFBARF after it helped defeat several waterfront development projects and pass a measure requiring voter approval for many waterfront projects.