Introducing Faulconer's brain, ethically speaking

City ethics panel taps controversial mayoral insider for political cash talk

Jason Roe
  • Jason Roe

There's apparently nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth, in this case the orifice of a controversial inside political player closely tied to San Diego's big-money Republican political establishment, judging from a recent announcement by the city's ethics commission.

Kevin Faulconer

Kevin Faulconer

Jason Roe, a top campaign aide to San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, is set to be a star of the show at April's “Money in Politics” forum presented by the commission, with Roe's longtime nemesis and ethics critic Mark Fabiani of the Chargers nowhere to be seen.

Mark Fabiani

Mark Fabiani

Called Faulconer's brain in homage to Karl Rove's famously similar role as political Svengali to George W. Bush, Roe was enmeshed last year in long-running combat with Fabiani over Roe's role as a lobbyist for giant stadium-food vendor Delaware North.

As first reported here in January 2015, Roe's Presidio Public Affairs influence-peddling operation, started with his political comrade in arms Duane Dichiara shortly after Faulconer's election as mayor in 2014, was hired by Delaware North to help it obtain a lucrative Qualcomm stadium food-and-booze contract from the Faulconer administration.

Fabiani, a onetime White House aide to president Bill Clinton, weighed in a few weeks later to question the arrangement, asking in a letter to the mayor, "What legal and ethical issues are raised by Mr. Roe's dual role as an apparent de facto Task Force member and as a registered lobbyist for the Delaware North company, which is bidding to become the new concessionaire at Qualcomm Stadium and, potentially, at any new stadium in San Diego?"

Continued the Chargers lobbyist, "Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, what sense does it make to have someone who is your chief advisor on political matters, and who advises a potential stadium vendor on business matters, play any sort of role with the 'independent' Task Force?"

"Money in Politics" flier

"Money in Politics" flier

After winning the Delaware North contract, Roe reportedly sold the lobbying business and has returned to the campaign hustings as a senior advisor to Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida, currently locked in battle with Donald Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz for the GOP presidential nomination.

By all reports, Roe, the only local listed as appearing at the ethics commission’s April 28 event, continues as a key Faulconer insider, quietly boosting the mayor's putative campaign for governor with plants in friendly news media.

According to a flier for the free April 18 event to be held at the downtown library, Roe will be partnered with L.A. lawyer Stephen J. Kaufman, who worked for Al Gore during the Florida recount after the 2000 presidential election, in a session entitled "view from the field."

"Stephen Kaufman and Jason Roe will provide perspective from those endeavoring to comply with government regulations, and will also talk about emerging trends in the 2016 election cycle," says the ethics commission flyer.

Also on tap will be keynoter Alex Padilla, California's Democratic secretary of state, and Ann Ravel, the former head of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission who was appointed to the Federal Election Commission by president Barack Obama in 2013.

Rounding out the bill are Washington lawyer Paul S. Ryan and Gary S. Winuk, the longtime enforcement chief of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission who quit last year to go to work for the Sacramento law firm of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP.

Winuk was hired by the city's ethics commission to represent it in the matter of Ayman Arekat, a tow truck operator accused by the commission of concealing donations to the mayoral campaigns of Nathan Fletcher, Bonnie Dumanis, and Carl DeMaio, according to a final administration complaint posted on the commission's website. A hearing in the case is being conducted this week, according to the document.

Stacey Fulhorst

Stacey Fulhorst

The public is invited to attend next month's ethics event, co-sponsored by the University of San Diego's law school, which is offering attorneys a special bonus to show up, 1.5 hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education general credit.

We have a call in to city ethics chief Stacey Fulhorst regarding costs for the event, including panelist compensation.

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There's nothing like having a lobbyist on your ethics panel discussion. It's true he's handsome and probably polite, but come on, Stacey Fulhorst, this is ridiculous.

Faulconer and brain, are mutually exclusive.

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