Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has labored long and hard in the campaign-cash vineyards of San Diego's super-rich, chief among them Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs, one of the first off the blocks with $50,000 for the Clinton-backing Ready for Hillary super PAC in the summer of 2013.
Then last year, the Qualcomm cofounder and father of a controversial Balboa Park bulldozing plan threw a $1000-per-person summer fundraiser at his La Jolla manse, pulling in an array of San Diego big-wigs, including Qualcomm government affairs vice president Shawn Covell; ex–city manager Jack McGrory; and health-spa maven Deborah Szekely.
Jacobs, a self-styled automation buff and proponent of increasing the number of special visas to allow more foreign engineers to work in the U.S., has long been a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, the giant nonprofit run by Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
With that kind of Clintonian head start, it's taken Republican late-comer Donald Trump a while to play catchup among his wealthy San Diego peers, but the latest donor numbers released this week by the Federal Election Commission have the New York billionaire out in front of Clinton with major money-givers.
Near the top of the list of the latest Trump donors is Gregorio D. Galicot, president of Otay Mesa–based BBG Communications, who kicked in the legal maximum of $5400 on June 29, according to Trump's presidential disclosure filing.
BBG, which specializes in selling telephone cards and other phone-related services, is located at 1658 Gailes Boulevard, just south of San Diego's Brown Field, and about two miles north of the Tijuana International Airport.
Galicot and brother Rafael run BBG, which has been the target of litigation alleging that the company was gouging U.S. servicemembers for long-distance calls placed to this country from European airports.
“If they told you it cost $41 for a minute, you wouldn’t make the call,” John Mattes, a San Diego attorney for Sgt. Richard Corder, one of the plaintiffs, was quoted as saying by the New York Times in March 2012. "In a statement, BBG Global said a German-based company that operates the phones actually sets the rates," the paper reported.
"Sergeant Corder’s lawyers disputed that assertion. BBG also said that rates charged to American troops are the same as those for anyone else making an international operator-assisted credit-card call from a German pay phone. 'Any accusation, or inference, that American military personnel are being targeted with inflated rates is untrue and offensive,' the statement said."
Last year Gregorio’s contribution of $5400 to the reelection campaign of Wisconsin GOP senator Ron Johnson, became a campaign issue for Wisconsin Democrats who alleged that BBG had "manipulated national and international law to defraud American service members by charging exorbitant rates for phone calls to family members from overseas.”
The two BBG brothers are the sons of José Galicot, known in some circles as the "godfather of Tijuana," reports Buzzfeed. Six years ago, the elder Galicot organized a $5 million public relations effort featuring Democratic ex–vice president Al Gore and talk-show host Larry King to counter the border city's reputation for drugs and violence.
Officials of the event, called Tijuana Innovadora, and now held annually, have been critical of the Republican presidential nominee, saying, “We will live in a constant state of siege,” if he is elected, according to a Mexican news account.
Federal Election Commission records show Gregorio Galicot has previously given to other Republicans, including $2700 to Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio’s presidential bid this January and GOP first-term New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte, who says she will vote for Trump but not endorse him. Border Democratic House member Juan Vargas got $1800 on April 20.
In addition to Galicot’s contribution, a big chunk of Trump's new money has been ascribed to a July 13 fundraiser held in a Rancho Santa Fe estate by diet queen Jenny Craig and Madeleine Pickens, ex-wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens.
Ex-Union-Tribune owner and local Republican kingpin Douglas Manchester was also a listed sponsor. Though top tickets cost $300,000, much of the cash was earmarked for the Republican National Committee and did not go directly to Trump's presidential fund.
Other July donors reported giving the $5400 legal maximum to the Trump campaign committee included Harry Cooper and wife Valerie. The North City developer and socialite is an uncle of CNN's Anderson Cooper.
A computer analysis of campaign filings for the month of July posted online August 21 shows that Trump raised more than Clinton among San Diego County contributors who gave $1500 or more a person, for a monthly total of $154,800, compared to Clinton's $103,486; though he continued to lag the Democrat in overall July fundraising here, $357,362 to Clinton's $435,595.
North County coastal neighborhoods paid off well for both candidates; Carlsbad came up with $42,862 for Trump, second only to San Diego, and $28,950 for Clinton, which was the third-highest city on her July fundraising list. As usual, Rancho Santa Fe also anted up in a major way, raising $36,623 for Trump and $14,037 for Clinton.