Forever Money-Hungry

— Campaign fundraising in San Diego County never ends. Immediately after election day last November, politicians of every stripe were out, hat in hand, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a host of wealthy donors who sought to influence the course of government. In the city of San Diego, financial-disclosure forms reveal that freshmen councilmembers Jim Madaffer, Scott Peters, Brian Maienschein, and Toni Atkins, along with Mayor Dick Murphy, used their newly minted incumbency to tap thousands of dollars in post-election contributions from city's hall special-interest lobbyists.

In the nation's capital, of course, it was the same story, where officeholders and their political parties scrambled for post-election dollars. Sometimes the late money came from donors who are shy about showing their faces until the election is over, for fear of causing voter backlash or creating an inconvenient controversy for the candidate. For instance, GOP congressman Daryl Issa's $1000 post-election contributors included Philip Morris Companies and Microsoft.

But the real post-election action was at San Diego city hall, where most of the late money has come from developers, bankers, contractors, and others with business pending before the city council. What makes the after-the-fact contributions of more than casual interest is the fact that several of the new councilmembers made large personal loans to their own campaigns. As of December 31, most of those loans were still unpaid, and so, as campaign contributions are collected, they go straight into the pockets of the successful candidates. Since the loans are far from being paid off, the officeholders will most likely be fundraising well into the future, hitting up all manner of lobbyists and favor-seekers for contributions to pay down their personal debt.

After the election, Mayor Murphy told a reporter for the Union-Tribune that his victory over a better-financed foe demonstrated that "politicians cannot buy an election in San Diego....Volunteers sending postcards to their friends, knocking on doors and spreading the word by word of mouth, that is so much more credible than a television ad." Though he was heavily outspent, Murphy did manage to collect more than $705,000. He also made personal loans to his campaigns, owes money to campaign consultants, and has since hit up the usual city hall special interests in order to reduce his sizable deficit.

Murphy's campaign closed out the year 2000 owing $110,000 to a variety of campaign vendors, including Murphy's campaign manager and now chief-of-staff John Kern ($10,000); Cynthia Vicknair's CynKat Communications ($10,000); the Gemini Group of Williamsburg, Virginia ($5000); Rachel Shira ($5000); and campaign treasurer William Baber ($5000). The balance, $75,000, was owed to Murphy himself, according to the mayor's campaign-finance disclosure statement. During the year leading up to the election, Murphy loaned his campaign $50,000 in December 1999; $25,000 in February 2000; and a final $22,500 on November 14, 2000, a week after the election. Only $22,500 of that has been paid back or forgiven, according to the report.

To pay off his campaign debts, records show, Murphy has been working the city hall lobbying circuit. And not without irony, many of Murphy's new donors were stalwart supporters of county supervisor Ron Roberts, Murphy's vanquished opponent in the mayoral race.

Take for instance John Davies, the seasoned San Diego power broker, University of California regent, longtime associate of ex-governor Pete Wilson, and close friend, confidante, and financial backer of Roberts. Davies, who owns property downtown and represents many wealthy investors, including the old-line Hunte family, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the multimillion-dollar Roberts campaign. Yet on December 20, Davies and his wife Anne gave Murphy the maximum personal contribution of $250 each.

Similarly, longtime Padres lobbyist Michel Anderson, who boasts a list of other clients in addition to the baseball team -- including American Medical Response, Chabad Hebrew Academy, Lennar Communities, Moondoggies, and West Coast Cab Company -- gave Mayor Murphy $250 on December 1. Before the election, Anderson had been an early Roberts backer, contributing $250 in April 1999. His name appeared on numerous Roberts fundraising appeals.

In the same vein, executives of Montgomery Watson, the multinational engineering company that specializes in giant public works projects -- such as sewer and water-treatment plants -- and which holds millions of dollars in city contracts, were also early Roberts backers. Company engineer William Moser of Cardiff gave Roberts $250 on December 3, 1999; engineer Mark Umphres gave $100 the same date. Company vice president Harold Glaser, who lives in Temecula, gave Roberts $250 on March 3, 2000. No Montgomery Watson employees are listed as giving to Murphy during the campaign.

After the election, it was another story. On December 20, Montgomery Watson engineer Thomas Bailey gave the Murphy campaign $250. Engineer Umphres also kicked in $250, as did engineer Moser. On December 27, Glaser, the Montgomery Watson vice president, gave Murphy $250, as did Mark Biggers, a Boulder, Colorado-based civil engineer employed by the company.

Similarly, "public affairs" consultant Laurie Black, daughter-in-law of the late Hotel Del Coronado mogul Larry Lawrence, gave $250 on November 17. During the campaign, she had backed Roberts with a $250 contribution on May 12, 2000. And construction-company owner Peter Filanc of Rancho Santa Fe had, along with his wife Francesca, given Roberts a total of $750 through June of last year. On December 20, he gave Murphy $150.

That same day, many other members of the local building industry who had backed Roberts wrote checks for Murphy. Richard Collins of Collins Plumbing, who had given Roberts $250 in April 1999, gave Murphy $250. Thomas Johnson, a vice president with Nielsen Dillingham, which is co-contractor on the stalled Padres ballpark, contributed $150 to Murphy. During the campaign he had given Roberts $500. David McKinley, environmental manager for ISP Alginates, Inc., had given Roberts $250 in March 2000. On December, 20, he gave Murphy $150.

On November 22, 1999, David Krauth of Ramona, a "transportation engineer" with Linscott, Law & Greenspan, had given Roberts $100. On December 20, 2000, David Krauth of the same address gave Murphy $150, though his occupation, as listed on the Murphy report, had changed to "retired." Stephen Jensen, also of Ramona, gave Roberts a total of $200 in late 1999. His occupation is listed as vice president of "SCST." Stephen Jensen of the same address gave $150 to Murphy on December 20, 2000. Jensen is also listed on the Murphy report as retired. Howard Katz, listed on Roberts's report as president of SCST, was an early Roberts backer, having given $150 in November 1999. On December 20, 2000, still listed as SCST president, he gave the same amount to Murphy. Public records show that SCST stands for Southern California Soils Testing.

Another "retired" donor listed by Murphy is H. Page Howe of Carlsbad, who gave the campaign $250 on December 22, 2000. Financial-disclosure statements on file with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission list Howe as a "self-employed investor." In a filing dated November 20, 2000, Howe is reported to be chairman of the board of Kwickweb.Com, Inc., a "development-stage company" formed in 1999 "to develop residential financial analysis software for real estate brokers." That plan was later abandoned, according to the filing, and in June 2000, the company formed Internet Properties Development, Inc., as "a wholly owned subsidiary to pursue the development and incubation of emerging Internet-based business, and going forward we intend to focus on the development and expansion of our Internet incubator business."

The filing also notes, "We have incurred operating losses since our inception and, as of September 30, 2000, had an accumulated net loss of $892,148. We have not generated any revenues to date, and we expect to incur operating losses until such time as we can conduct our operations in a profitable manner. We are unable to predict when we will be able to generate profits from operations, and there can be no guarantees that we will be able to do so."

As of last week, according to a news release from Internet Properties Development, the "retired" Howe was busy promoting Internet domain names for golfers. "We believe that .golf represents a huge improvement over the existing options open to golfers and the golf industry."

In addition to the former Roberts contributors, Murphy was also able to draw in new construction-industry donors who had given to neither candidate during the campaign. Alpine's John Benson, president of Squires-Belt Material Company, which records show sells stucco, drywall, and other construction material, gave $500 on December 27. Benson's contribution, which exceeded the $250-per-election contribution limit, was booked as being divided equally for the March 2000 primary election, as well as the November runoff, although they were made on the same day.

Engineer Richard David Black of Westminster, Colorado, gave $250 on December 20, as did Douglas Sain of Sain communications, a onetime staffer to ex-city councilman Harry Mathis. James Likins of Del Mar, a consultant with GeoCon, Inc., gave $150 on December 20. Other Murphy donors that same day included Brian Mooney, environmental planner, Mooney & Associates ($250); and Tommy Johnson, a construction contractor from Clayton, California ($250). Henry Pizarro, of San Antonio, Texas, listed as retired, also gave $250 on December 27.

Steve Zapoticzny, in charge of local environmental and occupational health issues for Kelco, contributed $150. In 1996, Kelco, which harvests and processes kelp, agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration for air-pollution violations. At the time Zapoticzny said the company neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

Pacific Beach's Karen Turk, wife of contractor Mike Turk, a onetime partner with Roger Hedgecock in various North Park condo projects, gave $250 on November 14 and another $250 a day later. La Jolla's Jeanette Webb gave $250. James Ahern, a real estate broker from La Jolla, gave $150 on November 17. Xingli Gan, listed as retired, gave $200 on November 17.

But Murphy wasn't San Diego's only newly elected official to hit the fundraising trail.

Employees of Shea Homes, a residential-development company based in Orange County, were the largest post-election contributors to fifth district city councilman Brian Maienschein. On December 8, Shea president Mark Brock and staffers Bradley Pontius, John Vance, and James Yoder each gave $250. Shea is one of the largest home builders in Scripps Ranch and other neighborhoods within Maienschein's district. Marcia Gaboury of Laguna Niguel, wife of another Shea executive, gave $250 on December 11. Other late donors included Douglas Leiber, the assistant general manager of the Rancho Bernardo Inn, who gave $250 on December 27. Hershell Price, a Del Mar developer, one-time stadium-board member, and boyfriend of county supervisor Pam Slater, gave $250 on December 15.

Maienschein's disclosure statement shows he lent his campaign -- which raised $194,665 through December, 2000 -- a total of $38,500.

Second District councilman Scott Peters made a personal loan of $27,000 to his campaign on October 30, less than a week before election day. On November 1, six days before the election, he made an $8000 loan, and on December 29, he made yet another loan of $17,500. Total outstanding campaign debts of the Peters campaign as of the end of the year were $218,000, the bulk of which was owed to him personally. In early November, Peters told a Union-Tribune reporter that he was forced to loan his own money to the campaign because his opponent had been endorsed by the building-industry lobby. "That's generally where money comes from in San Diego politics, so we've had to make up for that by kicking in our own funds."

But the builders apparently weren't sore losers. After the election, they quickly jumped onto the Peters fundraising bandwagon, and Peters did not refuse their largess. Developer Morgan Dene Oliver and his wife each gave $250 on November 16, as did LaDonna Monsees, president of Newland Communities; Newland CEO Robert McCleod; David Poole, a civil engineer with Brookfield Homes; James Hunter, executive vice president with Corky McMillin; Lennar Communities lobbyist Michel Anderson; developer James McMillan; Ernest Wright and Debra Keough of EHW Management; Laurie M. McKinley of MNA Consulting; as well as developer attorneys John Ponder, Earl H. Maas III, and Ali M.M. Mojdehi.

On November 27, Bevin Beaudet, a vice president of Ch2M Hill, a large consulting firm specializing in toxic cleanups, water treatment, and sewage systems, gave the campaign $250, as did Ch2M Hill's Theodore Popowchak. Peters is the chairman of Mayor Dick Murphy's clean-water task force, which among other issues will grapple with the problem of runoff and treatment of effluent generated by new development.

Over in the Seventh District, Councilman Jim Madaffer was also busy collecting post-election campaign money. On December 7, Montgomery Watson's Harold Glaser and Mark Biggers gave $250, as did Gordon McKenzie and Timothy England of Laguna Beach's Polygon Development, Audrey Doherty of Bendetto Advocacy, Vernon Turley and Eugene Luth of Luth & Turley Construction, John Hanson of Pacific Soils in Oceanside, William Dick of Project Design Consultants, consultant Jan Nunning Devries, David Novak of Cox Communications, and financial advisor Cynthia Piazza.

Less than two weeks later, on December 18, according to Madaffer's report, Yellow Cab's Susan Watson of El Cajon gave $250, as did Kurt Chilcott of Small Business Finance Corp., and Brenda Vaccariello of HMKG. On December 27, Barbara Teemsma of Mission Valley Pipe and Supply and Kip Howard of Allegis Development weighed in with $250 contributions.

Newly elected councilwoman Toni Atkins collected the smallest amount of post-election money. Donors included Gary Lass, a geologist employed by Geologic Associates of Riverside; James Silverwood of Affirmed Housing in Escondido; and Ira Snyder and Bryan Stirrat, of Bryan A. Stirrat & Associates, landfill consultants.

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