Fair Political Practices Commission goes after Americans for Job Security PAC

San Diegans on big-cash mystery donor list for Prop 32 and against Prop 30

Eli Broad (far left) with San Diego schools chief Cindy Marten (second from right)
  • Eli Broad (far left) with San Diego schools chief Cindy Marten (second from right)

A nonprofit group that funneled more than $11 million into 2012's California battles over taxes and the political spending of labor-union dues got cash from several unidentified San Diego donors, according to a list released by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

The group, Americans for Job Security, was part of an elaborate political funding scheme to route big money through Arizona groups into campaigns to defeat Proposition 30, the Jerry Brown–sponsored tax-increase measure, and to pass Proposition 32, a proposal to bar labor unions from using members' dues for political purposes.

Proposition 30 passed, Prop 32 didn't, handing the wealthy donors a double defeat. After the election was over, the Fair Political Practices Commission went after the group and its allies for breaking campaign disclosure laws. Yesterday, October 24, a $1 million settlement was made public, coupled with an $11 million demanded "disgorgement" of the stealthy campaign cash to the state.

A document labeled "Income/Expense summary, AJS," released by the agency, lists several donors with addresses in San Diego County: $22,700 came from a contributor with an address of Shoreham Place in San Diego; and $25,000 was contributed by someone with an address on Van Allen Way in Carlsbad.

One donor's name was partially visible through the redaction marks: Waxie Sanitary Supply on Waxie Way in San Diego. The firm is listed as giving $10,000.

The really big donors to Americans for Job Security came from Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the Fisher family, owners of the GAP retail chain, gave a reported $9 million. L.A. developer Eli Broad, no stranger to San Diego big-money politics, was down for $500,000.

Broad used his nonprofit foundation to spend heavily in San Diego in the 1990s to assist the political aims of Alan Bersin, then superintendent the San Diego Unified School District.

In addition to providing big personal cash to a failed political campaign to reshape the San Diego board of education to favor Bersin, the housing-development billionaire also used his foundation to bankroll a Bersin public relations push in 2002.

Broad Foundation spokeswoman Melissa Bonney Ratcliff, a former press aide to ex-vice president Al Gore, confirmed that the foundation has so far contributed $20,000 to support the effort.

"It is no secret that Eli Broad is a big fan of Alan Bersin," Ratcliff continued. "We are working with Alan on a project down in San Diego, yes. We are very interested in getting the message out about how well the reforms launched by Alan Bersin are doing down there."

San Diego Unified spokeswoman Peri Lynn Turnbull acknowledged in a telephone interview late last week that Broad was the source of $20,000 for the effort, which she characterized as a way to "improve communications" between the district and parents.

Last month, San Diego Unified was announced as a runner-up for the Broad Foundation’s Broad Prize as the nation’s best school district. Houston got first place.

Another Bersin friend and Broad charter schools ally, La Jolla investor Buzz Woolley, also gave heavily to Proposition 32, the defeated anti-union initiative, called by its backers the "paycheck protection" measure.

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