Lobbyist to Cate: check is in the mail

Councilman personally phoned SoccerCity influence-peddler for cash

Chris Cate
  • Chris Cate

After what used to be called Chris Cate’s Charity Cornhole Tournament drew snickers from city hall wags, the event became officially known as the Republican city councilman's District 6 Charity Toss.

Bob White and Craig Benedetto

Bob White and Craig Benedetto

Now a set of newly released city hall emails has revealed that lobbyists at the firm of California Strategies were repeatedly pressed by Cate and staff to put money into sponsoring the tournament before the councilman leaked a confidential city legal memo to the influence peddling outfit.

"I am excited to announce that Councilman Cate will be hosting his Second Annual D6 Charity Toss Tournament on August 19th in Mira Mesa Community Park to raise funds for the San Diego Police Officers Charity Fund and the Drowning Prevention Foundation San Diego," wrote Cate staffer Jenna Harris to Craig Benedetto of Southwest Strategies in an April 7 email.

Julianna Chick Tetlow

Julianna Chick Tetlow

Sponsorships, Harris went on to say, "are available, and we would love to have your support for a great cause." Three days later, Cate personally made a phone call for the funds to Julianna Chick Tetlow, another lobbyist then employed by California Strategies.

"I wanted to follow up regarding a voicemail Councilman Cate left you yesterday afternoon," said Harris in an April 11 email to Tetlow. "He was reaching out regarding the D6 Charity Toss Tournament taking place on August 19th at Mira Mesa Community Park."

Wrote Harris, "We would love to have the support of California Strategies and clients. California Strategies was a Gold Sponsor ($2,000) at last year's event, and we hope we can count on the same level of support at this year's event."

On April 26, Tetlow, a former Cate staffer, emailed back. "Just a quick note to let you know I am still working on this. Everyone has been so busy that we haven't had an opportunity to discuss it."

Then came Cate's leak of a June 15 confidential city legal memo regarding SoccerCity to Benedetto, the Southwest Strategies point man for the controversial Mission Valley privatization plan.

On August 8, Cate staffer Harris emailed Benedetto with a reminder regarding the upcoming charity toss, saying, "Our records indicate that we have not yet received your contribution." She added, "The event is 21 and over this year, as the whole field is a beer garden so players can enjoy craft beer while playing."

Responded Joy Forte, an executive assistant at California Strategies: "Thanks for the information, very helpful. The payment is in process and will be sent to you soon. Have a great day!"

In addition to the cornhole funding, disclosure records show that Benedetto and Ben Haddad, another lobbyist for California Strategies — founded by Bob White, a top aide to ex-San Diego mayor Pete Wilson — hosted a reelection fundraiser in May that came up with $2850 for Cate.

Cate's involvement in leaking the confidential memo is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General's office.

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I can't help but wonder how much Sherman got from FSI, as he has been the staunchest supporter of Soccer City on the council from the beginning.

The best city council money can buy. Another reason to vote him out of office forever.

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