It's been a lucrative year for the long-lingering legal defense fund of Myrtle Cole, paying down attorney fees and related costs run up during the San Diego councilwoman's battle against fellow Democrat Dwayne Crenshaw over a hit piece he claimed defamed him during their 2013 electoral showdown.
As reported here August 4, the bank account, set up after Crenshaw sued in 2014, received a raft of contributions this past April from a bevy of Mission Valley development interests, including Tom Sudberry and his associates, developers of the giant Civita complex off Friars Road, near the putative new Chargers stadium favored by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Other friends of Faulconer suddenly backing Cole included planning commissioner and Douglas Manchester's Mission Valley architect Doug Austin, who gave $300; SeaWorld park president John T. Reilly, with $550 on May 1; and lobbyist Rachel Laing, onetime media handler for ex-GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, who kicked in $550 on June 12. Sempra's Frank Urtasun donated $250 on April 23.
In July, Cole joined Faulconer's city council allies in a 6-3 council vote to spend $2.1 million of public money on a hurry-up environmental impact report the mayor said was needed to end-run the Chargers’ getaway play. Proponents said the report could later be repurposed to enable massive non-stadium development on the site.
Cole, who declared the expenditure was a "$2 million investment in keeping San Diego competitive,” added, "I own two L.T. jerseys," apparently referring to ex-Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson.
"That's an investment and I want to wear those jerseys."
Though judge Richard Strauss threw out Crenshaw's case against Cole in July of last year, saying, “Minor inaccuracies do not amount to falsity so long as ‘the substance, the gist, the sting of the libelous charge can be justified,’” her legal defense fund reported being $42,159 in debt that September.
The influx of Mission Valley cash helped to appreciably whittle down the liability by June of this year. With the latest infusion of $4150 in developer contributions during the third quarter, the defense fund owed just $2171, including $2000 remaining to be paid to the Lawton Law Firm, which handled the defamation case, according to a disclosure statement filed with the city clerk's office November 3.
In addition to its remaining unpaid debts, the fund reported having a cash balance of $2185.
All of the latest money came from real estate interests, with the exception of a $300 donation on September 24 by assemblywoman Toni Atkins, currently in a bitter primary battle for the state senate seat held by fellow Democrat Marty Block.
Contributions of $550 were made by longtime La Jolla developer Patrick Kruer; Christopher McKellar and associate Timothy McGowan; and Affirmed Housing Group's James Silverwood. Kruer's daughter Sarah gave $250, and Corky McMillin Company senior vice president Kimberly Elliot came up with $100.
David Simon, Phillip Tate, Jamas Gwilliam, and Brian Galligan, executives of Los Angeles–based Kilroy Realty, the building giant that fought a big-money development war with a rival firm earlier this year regarding their North City shopping complexes, kicked in a total of $500.