Soft money on steroids

— If Arizona senator John McCain's campaign-finance reform bill outlawing soft money becomes law, one big-spending San Diego diet-drug outfit may not be happy. Metabolife, founded by Michael Ellis and Michael Blevins, once convicted on charges of making methamphetamine at a house in Rancho Santa Fe, ranks number five in the state for its soft-money contributions last year. So reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The Metabolife soft-money total comes to $868,000, almost equally divided between Republicans ($405,000) and Democrats ($463,000). Ellis and his Metabolife colleagues have been busy lobbying over the last few years against restrictions on use of ephedra, a methamphetamine relative used in their Metabolife diet products. Global Crossing of Beverly Hills, a telecommunications giant, topped the list at $1,628,968, the paper says ...The Chronicle is also reporting that Padres owner John Moores wants to use "drastic measures," possibly including shutting down the baseball season during a strike, "if it means leveling the economic playing field." The paper also quotes baseball commissioner Bud Selig as thinking about closing down two unnamed teams. "All I can tell you is a year ago, [contraction] wasn't an option. Today, it is an option. Anybody who doesn't think it's a very serious option is misreading the situation. Times are different."

Stocked market The wealthy father-in-law of UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes has just purchased a big chunk of the Nasdaq stock market for $240 million. Hellman & Friedman, the San Francisco investment firm run by F. Warren Hellman -- whose daughter Frances, a UCSD physics professor, is married to Dynes -- thus becomes the largest external investor in the Nasdaq, reports London's Financial Times. "We don't make many investments, so when an idea comes up we tend to become very agitated," Hellman was quoted as saying. The paper speculates that Hellman, who in the past has profited mightily from selling off his stakes in advertising giant Young & Rubicam, as well as a huge interest in Europe's Formula One racing circuit, plans an eventual initial public offering of his Nasdaq shares. But Hellman won't confirm: "It may sound glib, but we don't worry about our exit strategy too much." As a result of the deal, Hellman will own 9.8 percent of the Nasdaq's stock and become a member of its board. Hellman is also a business partner with Padres owner and venture capitalist John Moores. The pair own a South Carolina outfit called Blackbaud, which makes fundraising software for nonprofit organizations. Close friends Moores and Dynes both sit on the board of La Jolla's Leap Wireless, a Qualcomm spinoff, and Dynes has been a particularly avid booster of the proposed taxpayer-financed downtown baseball stadium.

Lawyers, lawyers, and lawyers That ex-Survivor contestant who is suing the show's producer because she claims the program is rigged has hired San Diego lawyer Don Yates to represent her, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco attorney Stacy Stillman, who had been representing herself, says that producer Mark Burnett told two other contestants to vote her off the island in order to allow an older castaway to stay. Last week CBS succeeded in having the case moved to Los Angeles because Stillman had previously signed a contract requiring all disputes be heard in an L.A. court ...The charitable foundation of the late Bill Daniels, the crusty founder of Carlsbad's Daniels Cablevision, who had houses in Del Mar, Encinitas, and Denver, will collect more than $1 billion from the sale of his cable-TV empire, reports the Rocky Mountain News. But none of the money is destined for San Diego County. Daniels, a 79-year-old, four-times-divorced media mogul who died a year ago at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, was well known for his philanthropy and left enough of his fortune to the Daniels Fund to hand out at least $50 million a year. That makes it Colorado's biggest foundation. Under the terms of Daniels's will, 75 percent will stay in Colorado, with the rest divided between Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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