When Democrat Juan Vargas narrowly edged out Assemblywoman Mary Salas in last year’s primary race for the state senate’s 40th District, it was tantamount to winning the general election, thanks to the gerrymandering that both Democrats and Republicans have relied on to carve out so-called safe legislative districts. So it was no surprise that Vargas, a former assemblyman and insurance company lobbyist, didn’t have to run an exactly vigorous fall campaign. That left him plenty of time to consort with special interests, including phone giant AT&T, which on October 27 picked up his $344 tab for “ticket to Giants game and Refreshments” at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, according to the company’s recent lobbying disclosure filing.
Speaking of San Francisco, San Diego County’s Barona tribe paid for a $58.87 meal eaten by Democratic assemblywoman Fiona Ma at the Slanted Door, a trendy restaurant in San Francisco’s historic ferry building at the foot of Market Street. Other legislators had to be content with meals at the tribe’s casino, including Democratic assemblyman Charles Calderon ($39.92) and then–Democratic assemblywoman Karen Bass ($23.95).
San Diego–based Sempra Energy funded an election-night reception at Donovan’s Circle of 5ths in the Gaslamp Quarter, which advertises itself as featuring “Martinis & Music on 5th.” Total cost of the activity, the power company reported, was $4092.12. Admission for Andrew Poat, the former Pete Wilson aide and vice president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, was valued at $48.14. Sempra also took Assemblyman Jim Silva out for a $23 lunch at Gulliver’s Restaurant in Irvine…The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which in November renewed its lease with the state to run the track for at least another ten years, gave a total of $63,769 to state candidates and officeholders last year, according to its recent disclosure filing. Recipients ran the gamut from termed-out Democratic assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s 2012 senate campaign committee ($1000) to the officeholder account of termed-out Democratic senator Denise Ducheny ($1000). Victorious Democratic senate candidate Juan Vargas picked up $1500, and Democratic senator Ron Calderon got a $1430 “in-kind” contribution. Not among the lucky recipients in the second half of the year was Democratic senator Christine Kehoe, who has been working largely behind the scenes to sell the track and the rest of the fairgrounds to the City of Del Mar for $120 million. Part of that deal is said to include a new track operator. Before that plan became public in October, Kehoe got a total of $1500 from the track in March and June.