As San Diego's latest corruption scandal unfolds, it is casting fresh light on the well-monied political network of Republican district attorney Bonnie Dumanis and her consultant Jennifer Tierney.
Tierney, a longtime confidante of the D.A., works not only for Dumanis but also for superior court judges and city politicos who, Dumanis critics have argued, often seem to be a mutual-benefit society for the advancement of their political fortunes.
One of the judges handled by Tierney is Timothy Taylor. As reported here last year, Taylor is a former partner in the big downtown law and lobbying firm of Sheppard Mullin who was named to the bench by GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.
Last March, Taylor heard a case brought by a group controlled by the city's hotel magnates, including Atlas Hotel, Inc.’s Terry Brown and Evans Hotels’ William Evans, against then-mayor Bob Filner, in an effort to make the Democrat sign off on a lucrative promotional funding deal negotiated by previous GOP mayor Jerry Sanders.
Taylor's initial ruling in the lawsuit was favorable to the hotel owners, allowing their complaint against Filner to be expedited.
Public records subsequently revealed that Taylor, running in February 2012 for election to the bench, used Tierney as his political consultant, and that his nominating papers had been signed by city councilman Todd Gloria (who favored the hotel owners' position), Evans Hotels CFO and general counsel Robert Gleason, as well as Gleason's spouse, Marc Matys.
Taylor didn't respond to telephone requests for comment, but released a statement from the bench acknowledging his arrangement with Tierney and denying he knew about the signatures gathered until the information was published here.
The...article brought to the court's attention for the first time the identities of several persons who signed a nominating petition during the summer of 2012 when the undersigned was required to file papers with the Registrar of Voters.
As the article states, the signatures were collected by political consultant Jennifer Tierney. The undersigned has no relationship with the individuals named in the article, and has never met or spoken to any of them.
Taylor went on to assert that many of his fellow judges had their nominating petitions handled by Tierney, saying, "The same people signed the nominating petitions for most of the several dozen judges who were required to file for reelection during the last election cycle.
"Ms. Tierney collected all the signatures. The goal in collecting signatures in this 'blind' fashion was to avoid disqualifying situations."
Taylor declined to recuse himself. He subsequently ruled in Filner's favor.
Tierney, also Gloria's political consultant, has profited from her professional relationship with D.A. Dumanis, who has enjoyed major financial support from Evans Hotels principals.
Donors to retire Dumanis's 2012 mayoral campaign debt included Anne Evans, chairman of Evans Hotels on December 1, 2012, ($500); Grace Cherashore, president and CEO of Evans Hotels on December 1 ($500); and Robert H. Gleason, CFO of Evans Properties on December 1 ($500). (A $500 check from Cherashore was reported returned.)
Funds in the amount of $14,000 raised by Dumanis went to pay campaign debts to Tierney, according to disclosure reports.
Of the current money-laundering charges against retired San Diego cop Ernesto Encinas, Washington, DC political consultant Ravneet Singh, and lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, Dumanis has been quoted by U-T San Diego as saying she'd met with Encinas and Singh but knew nothing about the $100,000 they allegedly funneled from a Mexican national identified as Susumo Azano Matsura to an independent expenditure committee that backed the D.A.'s unsuccessful bid for mayor.
Records show Encinas has personally given money to Dumanis's controlled committees, including a total of $1400 with his wife Sharon in June of last year to the D.A's reelection bid. Gloria's city-council campaign got $500 in 2012.
Another Dumanis backer has been Marc Chase, owner of Symbolic Motors, also identified as a figure in the current money-laundering saga. Chase gave the Dumanis mayoral campaign $500 in December 2011, according to online city disclosure records.
Chase has been identified in published reports as the alleged conduit for $120,000 from Azano to an independent expenditure committee backing the mayoral hopes of Bob Filner.
Bill Evans, the Dumanis donor and hotel owner in the suit against Filner, was quoted on Thursday by U-T San Diego as saying "he’s always known Chase to be a reputable businessman and generous charitable donor."
“He’s a standup guy and has been in a very tough business over the last five or six years,” said Evans, of Evans Hotels, which owns the Bahia, Catamaran and The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
“He and his brother made the Ferrari market what it is today.
“He’s in a business filled with horror stories and from what I know, his has been a fairy tale, not a horror story.”
As previously reported, Symbolic Motors, once owned by Texas savings-and-loan swindler Don Dixon, has had a long and colorful role in the history of La Jolla big-money crime and politics.