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Mayor Eugene Schmitz & Abe Ruef
1908

Eugene Schmitz

Eugene F. Schmitz

Abe Ruef

Abraham Ruef

Eugene F. Schmitz was elected mayor of San Francisco in November l90l. He was nominated by the Union Labor Party, being a member of the musician's union, a violinist. He is remembered best as being the mayor during the l906 Earthquake and Fire.

Abraham Ruef was a young lawyer who found his true calling in political organizing and manipulation. He helped mastermind the election of Schmitz and put up most of the campaign money.

It is widely documented that payments by businesses in return for favorable support and votes was a common, although illegal, practice. The mayor's ultimate downfall involved payments from the "French restaurants."

French restaurants had a moderately priced public dining room on the first floor which catered to families, private dining rooms on the second floor with luxurious furnishings and higher priced meals, and on floors above one found "private supper bedrooms." It was generally understood that respectable women did not go above the first floor.

Liquor licenses had to be renewed every three months. As civic concern turned to the activities of the French restaurants, the Police Commission started to delay or deny liquor licenses. Abe Ruef became the lawyer for the newly formed "French Restaurant Keeper's Association." He was initially retained for over $10,000, half of which he gave to Mayor Schmitz. The members of the Police Commission changed and liquor licenses once again flowed.

Schmitz and Ruef were indicted and charged with extortion and bribery. Ultimately they were both jailed and convicted. The convictions of Schmitz were ultimately overturned by a higher court and former Mayor Schmitz later ran for and was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

Ruef served four years and seven months in San Quentin.

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