With the purchase of the city's daily newspaper by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing — owner of the Los Angeles Times — San Diego may be fast on its way to becoming a frequent campaign stop for big-money Democrats.
Now comes word that former first lady, senator, and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton picked up some of her biggest paid speaking checks of the past year in San Diego, including $335,000 for a single appearance last October 14 from Qualcomm, the giant mobile technology company co-founded by La Jolla billionaire Democrat Irwin Jacobs.
In addition, last June the Washington DC-based Biotechnology Industry Organization, a big-pharma advocacy group, paid her $235,000 to speak at its convention downtown on June 25.
As previously reported, the BIO group threw a mammoth private party in the Gaslamp Quarter, with closed streets arranged by the convention planning firm run by Katherine Stuart, wife of Republican San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer.
BIO party in the Gaslamp
A heavy contingent of San Diego police was deployed to patrol the perimeter, at one point emerging from behind the fence to question a reporter who was photographing the event.
Qualcomm and BIO are both major proponents of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation being pushed by president Barack Obama. Of late, Clinton has been criticized by bill proponents, including the Washington Post, for dodging the controversial issue.
"In refusing to take a stand, Ms. Clinton is not only abandoning the president she once served but also missing an opportunity to help define the values of the party she would lead in November 2016," says a May 12 editorial.
Besides those two San Diego gigs, the former secretary of state got $225,500 last September 4 from Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd, the downtown San Diego law firm descended from the one that once housed La Jolla's Bill Lerach, a Democrat and former plaintiffs’ attorney who copped a plea to kickback-related charges brought by the Bush administration’s justice department.
Another San Diego payday for Clinton came for a speech via satellite to the California Medical Association convention on April 11 of last year, for which she took $100,000, according to the disclosure document.
Hillary's husband Bill also received more than a few dollars from putting in a local appearance, getting $225,000 for a speech at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad this past January 9 paid by William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency.
In all, the couple received $25.3 million from making 104 paid speeches since January of last year.
With the approaching takeover of U-T San Diego by publisher Austin Beutner — a major Democratic donor who once teamed with L.A. Democratic billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle in an unsuccessful bid to take over the Los Angeles Times — the city's role as a high-dollar destination of choice for more Democratic speakers and fundraisers could grow further.
Qualcomm's Jacobs, a Broad ally in anti-teachers’-union school-reform efforts, is a longtime backer of Hillary Clinton, having with wife Joan given his first $50,000 to Ready for Hillary, a political action committee used to advance the candidate's early campaign, back in August 2013.