Who gave money to San Diego politicians

Nathan Fletcher, Toni Atkins, Joel Anderson, Brian Maienschein, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher

Rivas and Saldana, oil company targets
  • Rivas and Saldana, oil company targets

Big Oil and gas

A group of well-heeled oil companies from Texas had a mixed record of success in last week’s California primaries after spending nearly $400,000 in the Golden State on campaign hits against San Diego’s Lori Saldaña and San Benito County supervisor Robert Rivas. Democrat-turned-independent Saldaña, running for the board of supervisors here, placed third in the race, with Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher first, closely followed by GOP ex-district attorney Bonnie Dumanis. A petroleum-fueled political committee calling itself the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class weighed in with $35,000 for labor union-backed attacks linking Saldaña to fallen San Diego mayor Bob Filner.

Dean Spanos maintains a tradition of family political giving.

Dean Spanos maintains a tradition of family political giving.

On the other hand, anti-fracker Rivas, a Democrat, finished a strong first in his 30th District Assembly primary despite at least $320,000 spent against him by the oil firms... Meanwhile, Republican ex-San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio came out on the winning side against Democratic state Senate leader Toni Atkins of San Diego. Her ballot measure fund, financed in part by a last-minute $10,000 contribution on June 4 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America California Initiative Fund, spent $210,000 in a futile effort to beat the recall of Orange County Senate Democrat Josh Newman, a key backer of hiking the state’s gasoline tax.

Gavin Newsom — $25,000 from Spanos companies

Gavin Newsom — $25,000 from Spanos companies

“You and I both know the good guys (us taxpayers) are almost never victorious in California, but this time we scored a BIG one!” boasted DeMaio, now a radio talk show host, in a post-election email to supporters of his gas tax referendum this coming fall. “Our stunning victory in the Recall Election not only ends the Democrats’ Super-Majority and stops them from raising taxes without a public vote, but it is a HUGE shot in the arm for our Repeal Initiative this November.”

Donations to DeMaio’s tax repeal effort have included $10,000 provided by the New Car Dealers Association PAC of San Diego and $2500 from Rancho Santa Fe Republican John H. Cox, who last week made the gubernatorial runoff against Democrat and ex-San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

Say it ain’t so, Dean

Over decades past, when the Chargers ruled San Diego, owner Alex Spanos could be counted on to furnish copious amounts of political cash to local Republicans, including ex-GOP Senator and later California governor Pete Wilson, the town’s one-time mayor. Susan Golding, another Republican mayor desirous of a seat in the U.S. Senate, fixed it for Spanos and family to get the controversial Chargers ticket guarantee and expansion of the stadium formerly known as Qualcomm. In return Golding picked up campaign money from Spanos and partners of the team’s law firm of Luce, Foward. Now 94, Alex is said to suffer from dementia and is no longer involved in the family business. But eldest son Dean, who yanked the team out of San Diego in January 2017, maintains a tradition of family political giving, widening this year’s list of recipients to Democrats. Gubernatorial hopeful Gavin Newsom, got $25,000 from Stockton-based A.G. Spanos Companies on May 18.

Facebook’s late money

Among last-minute donors to two San Diego Republicans was Facebook, the social media giant plagued by questions about how much of the personal information of users it has sold or given to politicos and smartphone makers. State disclosure records show that on Saturday, June 2 the Menlo Park corporation kicked in $2500 to the Board of Equalization campaign of termed-out California 38th District Senator Joel Anderson, who came out on top in last week’s primary. GOP Assemblyman Brian Maienschein got $4000, also June 2. Lack of legislative progress on bills protecting social media users’ private data has spawned the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, an initiative which has garnered more than 600,000 signatures and as a result is likely headed for the state’s November ballot... Michigan-based Dart Container, battling a proposal by two San Diego city council members to ban polystyrene packaging within city limits, came up with $2500 on May 18 for the campaign fund of Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. That committee funneled at least $165,000 to the local Democratic Party’s bid to elect her husband Nathan Fletcher to the county board of supervisors. Last minute money for Gonzalez Fletcher’s committee also poured in from Texas-based oil giant Phillips 66, with $3000 June 1, and $1100 from San Diego-based Sempra Energy June 4, the day before the election. Wealthy charter school advocate Doris Fisher of Redwood City, came up with $2000 for Gonzalez Fletcher the same day.

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Politicians are owned and operated by those who have money. No one will ever get reelected if they bite than hand that feeds them. Unless and until big money is removed from politics we will continue to have a government for the rich and by the rich. No one gives money to anyone without expecting a return on their investment.

Most of the time it's true that people give with expectation. Once in a while a candidate come along and it becomes a joy to celebrate their candidacy...such is the case of Omar Passons. He ran a campaign of integrity and vision. It was an honor to support his effort to represent the people of District 4 in the county.

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