Shamu pays off big for San Diego pols

Execs for controversial aquatic park spreading fishy political wealth

Still image from Blackfish
  • Still image from Blackfish

With their bread and butter, and anchovies and chum, under attack by animal-rights activists, executives at Sea World, the profitable San Diego aquatic park, have been turning to a traditional American means of persuasion: campaign contributions.

Previously owned by beer giant Anheuser-Busch, the now-independent Florida-based operation has long been a major giver to San Diego pols, kicking in a total of $47,320 via its employees to city candidates since 2007, according to contribution data posted online by the San Diego city clerk's office.

And this year the pace has quickened.

The records show that SeaWorld favored Kevin Faulconer for mayor, with president John T. Reilly and government-affairs person Corrine Brindley giving the winning Republican a total of $2800.

Brindley gave losing Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher’s 2012 and 2013 mayoral campaign committees a total of $950. Democrat David Alvarez, who lost to Faulconer in the runoff, got nothing, according to the data.

The whale emporium kicked in big for the GOP Lincoln Club, which waged a take-no-prisoners war of hit pieces against Fletcher and later Alvarez during the mayor's race, contributing $7500.

The prosperous tourist attraction also gave $5000 to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's political action committee and $2750 to San Diego Restaurant and Beverage PAC, both big Faulconer-backers.

Retirement compensation doesn't seem to seem to be an issue with Shamu, but in 2011 SeaWorld gave $15,000 to the Lincoln Club's drive against what the business lobbyists asserted were overly generous city-worker pensions.

Meanwhile, members of San Diego’s House delegation have been checking in with the briny contributor for their own share of fishy big bucks.

According to a federal disclosure report filed February 20 and covering the period of January 1 through February 12, the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Inc. PAC handed out a total of $29,000 of campaign cash, a goodly amount of it to local and California representatives.

Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis got $1000 on January 7, as did fellow House Democrat Scott Peters and Republican Duncan Hunter. California senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, also picked up $1000 each.

Sea World has lately been fighting a battle for public opinion spawned by the documentary Blackfish; California Democratic assemblyman Richard Bloom of Santa Monica has introduced a bill to ban the amusement park's lucrative whale shows.

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Looks like Kevin Faulconer lost my support. Next time I hear that SeaWorld is good for San Diego's economy I argue to put your morality first, then economics. I bet you hiring child labors working in sweat shops maybe also great for economy but an immoral proposition. And as for being a job creator I am sure those illegal drug cartels do provide lots of jobs for those individuals involved in the whole business that could include lower paid labors and when they get busted lots of low-paid labor with families would also be out of work.

SeaWorld is mostly about entertainment and animal circus. Captive breeding is not rescue is just add more individual whales for business expansion.These whales are born and will die in a pool deprived of a normal life. That is IMMORAL! There is NOTHING educational about Shamu's shows. The business practice of captivity is immoral and needs to be changed.

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