At one point in his testimony before the county grand jury, Mike McDade made this observation: “You try and do the best job you can. But a political campaign is like no other activity that I can compare it to. If you try to compare normal legal or business principles — I am talking about the organizational structure — to a campaign, you will never complete analyzing it. It goes from total chaos to one splendid day when everything works. And then after that it falls apart.”
Perhaps no other single passage in the sixteen volumes of transcripts from the grand jury’s recent investigation better illuminates the source of the turmoil now surrounding Mayor Roger Hedgecock. McDade, who is currently the mayor's chief of staff, made the statement while attempting to describe to members of the grand jury the tangled intricacies of modern political campaigning, and while at the same time trying to defend himself and the mayor against allegations of criminal conduct — a daunting task, but one McDade was uniquely qualified to undertake.
He is one of Hedgecock's closest friends and advisors, he is a veteran of local politics, and he was the principal strategist for Hedgecock's 1983 mayoral campaign. Among the eighty-two witnesses who appeared for questioning, McDade revealed the keenest insight into contemporary San Diego politics; the transcription of his testimony is an engrossing document.
Because McDade's transcripts ran to more than 200 pages, editing was necessary due to the restrictions of space, though the integrity of his testimony has been preserved. All deletions have been marked by ellipses. Following McDade's testimony are major excerpts from Assistant District Attorney Richard Huffman's summation to the grand jury, as well as questions from the jurors. Deletions again have been marked by ellipses.
Deputy District Attorney James Hamilton questioned McDade, who had voluntarily appeared before the jury. Hamilton generally followed a chronological outline, beginning with questions about Hedgecock's nascent interest in running for mayor as early as June of 1980. The edited transcript below picks up at the point Hamilton’s questions began to concentrate on more recent developments, after Hedgecock has decided to campaign for mayor in the city's special election of 1983, which was prompted by Pete Wilson’s election to the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Hamilton: You said at some point in time after George Mitrovich became hired by J. David and Company, you were invited down by him to the J. David firm to look over the place; is that correct?
Mr. McDade: Yes.
Q: Did you ever have a discussion during the latter half of 1981 with Mr. Mitrovich concerning the friction that had developed between Mr. Hedgecock and Ms. Hoover?
A: I don’t recall any specific discussion with George about it.
Q: Did you ever discuss that subject with anyone?
A: Yes. Numerous times, and perhaps I can explain that.
Q: Okay. I would like to know what period of time you discussed it, over what period of time, and the general nature of the discussions.
A: The discussions started when Nancy walked out on George [Hoover] in, I think, 1980, leaving him with the teenage kids, and went off with Jerry Dominelli, who nobody knew who he was, but was still encumbered by a wife at that time.
Nancy took an awful lot of criticism from people who knew her at that time.
As in most divorce situations, both parties all of a sudden came to be avoided by their prior friends. I believe, for example, in my case, I saw Nancy in 1980 and did not see her again until 1983, would be my recollection. She pulled back from virtually all of her activities. Her husband, George, pulled back from his activities, and there were a lot of people who were assessing fault in the relationship to Nancy. They were very unhappy with her for the action she had taken.
Q: Did you discuss this situation with Mr. Hedgecock at any time?
A: Oh, I am sure I did. He was just wondering what could possibly have gone wrong with Nancy to ruin such a nice family.
Q: Did you hear Mr. Hedgecock on one or more occasions make derogatory remarks about Ms. Hoover concerning this situation?
A: Not about her, but about her action. He felt it was a mistake on her part.
Q: During your conversations with Mr. Mitrovich in the year 1981, did he ever mention to you the desirability of effecting a more harmonious relationship between Mr. Hedgecock and Ms. Hoover in order to obtain her help during the future political campaigns?
A: George [Mitrovich] frequently talks in terms like that. You know, when he went to work for Nancy, he made a point of letting everyone in town know this was a woman who had lots of money and who could be helpful to any cause, be it charitable or anything else. He was spreading this around town.
On one occasion, and I can’t remember when it was, he would say, “Mike, we could go to Nancy and get her to get contributions for us. How can I possibly ask her as long as she and Roger are still at odds?”
That was on his mind.
Q: What did you say to that?
Q: What did you say to that?
A: As I recall, it was a personal problem they would have to work out themselves.
Q: Well, was she — had she been a source of political funds in the past?
A: I don’t think so, because she had not — George Hoover, her husband, had — he is an excellent fund-raiser, and had acted as our finance chair, I believe, in ’75. But Nancy was not a fund-raiser for charitable purposes or anything else until she hooked up with Dominelli.
Q: Well, you know, it is common for politicians to try to be as friendly to people as they can whether or not they like them. Isn’t that almost a universal trait of a politician?