Free turkeys, free publicity

Getting more than you give

Kevin Faulconer (photo illustration)
  • Kevin Faulconer (photo illustration)

Republican San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who recently came in second to Democratic ex–San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for California governor in the latest Field Poll, continues to collect big special-interest donations to One San Diego. The charity pays for free Thanksgiving turkeys the mayor gives to residents in poorer parts of town, netting the former PR man favorable free publicity.

Some of the latest local fat cats to give, per a November 3 financial disclosure filed at city hall, include Eric Hedblad, with $5000 on October 19. He’s controller at Veralliance Properties, specializing in developing high-tech real estate. Another $5000 came from US Bank on October 6. Joye Blount, a “wealth management” honcho for the bank, is married to Jesse Knight, ex-external affairs chief at Sempra, owner of SDG&E, another major donor to Faulconer’s charity fund. The Republican couple are members of Donald Trump’s White House transition team.

This year’s turkey giveaway, featuring the mayor and police chief Shelley Zimmerman, was held Saturday, November 19, at the New Seasons Baptist Church in Encanto. Cell-phone giant AT&T, which has been a combatant in long-running battles over phone towers in city parks and has previously kicked in $22,500 to One San Diego, was listed as this year’s sponsor.

Three days before the mayor’s inner-city bash, 80th District Democratic assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez held her own holiday event, called Operation Gobble: Annual Turkey Giveaway and Health Resource Fair, at Cesar Chavez Park in Barrio Logan. The party’s most prominent corporate backer was SDG&E. A tweet posted by the utility-sponsored We Care San Diego Twitter account invited attendees to “Trot over to @SDGE’s booth” and “gobble up” power bill savings for the poor, courtesy of subsidies paid for by federal taxpayers.

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