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The man who mistook his wife for a politico, and other Qualcomm tales

Mega-millionaire lavished nearly $4 million on spouse's failed GOP House bid

Amoretta Hoeber
  • Amoretta Hoeber

San Diegans in the political know are well familiar with the recently forged, political-money-fueled alliance between La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs and Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, widely said to be lining up campaign donors for a putative 2018 bid for California governor.

Hillary Clinton, Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Hillary Clinton, Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Faulconer, who declined to endorse Donald Trump for the presidency, and Jacobs, who has given millions of dollars to the causes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, unveiled their political partnership in June, with the announcement that the mayor was reviving the controversial Jacobs plan to rip a big chunk out of the historic Cabrillo Bridge and bulldoze a major swatch of the park to a new, taxpayer-financed $50-million-plus parking garage behind the organ pavilion, all without a public vote.

The well-publicized post-mayoral election event followed a confidential meeting in March between Faulconer and Jacobs over the project and a subsequent torrent of campaign cash from Qualcomm executives, including Jacobs's recently divorced son Paul, to the mayor's reelection fund.

Jerry Sanders

Jerry Sanders

During the first round of the Jacobs battle for the massive park makeover, first proposed during the administration of GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, Jacobs demonstrated his political clout when Democratic then–lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom called out state preservation officer Wayne Donaldson for his opposition to the project.

Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom

Donaldson had noted that the Jacobs plan would destroy a major portion of the bridge and wreak other irreversible adverse changes to the park, designated a national historic landmark.

Declared Newsom in a February 15, 2012, letter to Donaldson, "This is a project with broad local political, philanthropic and community support so it may be more productive to work in collaboration with the project development team to achieve your goal of preserving this historical open-space....

"As the State Historic Preservation Officer I hope that you will consider these arguments, withdraw your comments, and begin to work in collaboration with the leaders of the Plaza de Panama project."

He added, "Should you need help making contact with the project team I stand ready to assist."

Milford Wayne Donaldson

Milford Wayne Donaldson

Precisely a month after Newsom fired off his letter, Newsom received $12,000 from Jacobs and wife Joan for his 2012 reelection bid and Donaldson subsequently lost his job.

Now the political ambitions of both Newsom and Faulconer have put both directly into the financial pockets of Jacobs and his Qualcomm associates, who have never been afraid to wield their sizable wealth to obtain an array of commercial desires.

A recent Field Poll of California voters has Newsom first in the 2018 race for governor, with 23 percent, and Faulconer second at 16 percent.

Meanwhile, in the state of Maryland, another Qualcomm bigwig has not done as skillfully in the political pay-to-play game, laying out a reported $3.8 million of his personal fortune in an ultimately failed bid to elect his wife, Republican Amoretta Hoeber, to a seat in Congress.

Hoeber fell to Maryland Sixth District Democratic incumbent John Delaney, 55 to 41 percent.

The candidate’s husband, Mark Epstein, whose LinkedIn profile lists him as a Qualcomm senior vice president, set up a super PAC called Maryland USA to funnel his funds into a House campaign for Hoeber, an Iraq chemical-weapons expert in the administration of GOP president George W. Bush.

"Because Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating their activities with a candidate’s personal campaign committee, a situation in which the candidate and the chief funder of a Super PAC benefitting her candidacy resided under the same roof stirred legal controversy," reported Bethesda Magazine.

"Epstein insisted repeatedly that he merely donated the money and exerted no influence over how the funds were spent, but the Delaney campaign filed a still-pending Federal Election Commission complaint alleging violations of federal election law."

The candidate wrestled with the issue of Donald Trump during her campaign, the magazine added.

"Hoeber, while seeking to distance herself from several of Trump’s more controversial statements, stood by her support of him — saying she had pledged during the primaries to back whomever was on the national Republican ticket. She was also walking a political tightrope: While disavowing Trump would likely have played well in the Montgomery County end of the district, it would have cost her support in the white working-class sections in the far west of the Maryland panhandle."

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Comments

For those of us locals, it is rather comforting to know that big bucks funneled into elections through PACs don't always buy elections. Moreover, the fact that in this case it was Qulacomm money that was wasted might be even more gratifying.

Thanks Matt, for providing links to further information. Do Reader readers a favor and explain to other reporters how and why this is done. Responsible journalism requires such links in this century.

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