The ongoing battle between Los Angeles–area real estate giants Kilroy Realty and Donahue Schriber over the fate of Kilroy's One Paseo mega-development has been financially fortuitous for both San Diego's city hall lobbying corps and members of the city council, at least one of whom has recently been raising big campaign cash from the employees and lobbyist of a key player.
Republican Chris Cate was until this past December a lobbyist for the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, powered by major money from the local hotel and development industry.
Elected to the council last November with the financial might of the GOP Lincoln Club and its wealthy backers — including exiting U-T San Diego owner Douglas Manchester and controversial Beverly Hills developer Michael Schlesinger — Cate has lately turned to Kilroy representatives to help retire his lingering five-figure campaign debt to the "brain" of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
According to the Cate campaign committee's May 19 disclosure filing with the city clerk, covering the period between January 1 and May 13 of this year, more than 20 employees of Kilroy came up with a total of $8150 from March 27 through April 22.
Kilroy donations to the committee, Cate for Council 2014, flowed from both high and mighty executives of the firm and those somewhat lower down on the totem pole. Senior vice president Robert C. Little gave $500 on March 27. Building manager Michael J. Nelson kicked in $100 on April 22.
Kilroy donors included residents of Malibu, Altadena, Oakland, Calabasas, Manhattan Beach, San Francisco, Santa Monica, San Pedro, Danville, Hillsborough, Laguna Niguel, Chula Vista, and Los Angeles; $600 came from those listing a San Diego address.
The biggest cluster of contributions arrived on March 31, when nine employees anted up for a total of $2950.
In addition to the employees, Kilroy contract lobbyist Rachel Laing gave the Cate campaign fund a total of $400 during the period, the latest $50 coming on April 20, according to the filing.
Her lobbyist disclosure statement shows Laing received $2000 from Kilroy during the first quarter of the year.
Personal contributions aren't reimbursable under city law, so the Kilroy employees and consultants must dip into their own funds for Cate cash.
Those firms who do reimburse and later get caught sometimes pay a steep price. In a 1996 case that drew a record $420,000 fine from the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, Walmart developer Frank Gatlin and his attorney Mark Ostoich acknowledged they had used friends, clients, employees, and business associates to make subsequently reimbursed contributions to then–city council members Ron Roberts, Juan Vargas, Barbara Warden, George Stevens, and Judy McCarty.
The officials who benefited from the payouts denied knowledge of the arrangement and escaped sanctions.
The Kilroy-related donations to Cate's committee began about a month after he voted with the majority in a heavily lobbied 7-2 February 23 city-council decision to approve the One Paseo complex at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real in Carmel Valley.
"We encourage you to reach out and thank our council members for their leadership on this issue," says a Kilroy website listing the email addresses of Cate and his council colleagues who backed the proposal.
Rival developer Donahue Schreiber, whose workers are not listed among this year's Cate donors, subsequently funded a costly but successful referendum drive to require the council to rescind its move or put the matter to voters.
As a result, Kilroy negotiated a behind-the-scenes compromise with Donahue Schriber, and on May 21 the council was believed ready to pull its approval of the project pending submission of a scaled-down plan.
The Kilroy delegation was by far the single largest employee-related group of donors to the Cate committee, which raised a total of $52,201 during the disclosure period, the filing says. Running a distant second were employees of Sempra Energy with $1400 and its subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric with $1200.
Vendors paid off with the money included Revolvis Consulting, co-owned by controversial political consultant Jason Roe — widely known as the political "brain" behind GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer — which got $25,000. Golden State Consultants, a fundraising firm run by former Lincoln Club staffer Ashley Hayek, picked up $27,493.