Boobs of influence
Will San Diego’s lame-duck Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer try to block the hijacking of his charity’s name by backers of his would-be Democratic successor Todd Gloria? That’s just one of many questions inspired by the September 3 filing of a statement of organization by One San Diego, “a coalition of taxpayers supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor, 2020.” One San Diego also happens to be the name of a Faulconer non-profit that collects tax-exempt cash from well-heeled donors, many with business at city hall. The mayor then hands out the proceeds at televised public events, including his annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in poorer parts of town.
The Gloria version of One San Diego lists Samantha Stevens of Reseda as principal officer, with Sacramento’s Shawanda Deane in the role of treasurer. Deane is the principal in Deane & Company, a political consulting firm specializing in campaign reporting and finance, per the company’s website. Stevens was a Democratic Assembly candidate in 2018 before dropping out in the face of revelations that she had been sued for gender discrimination while working for the Service Employees International Union, otherwise known as SEIU. “The accusations in the lawsuit are not true,” Stevens told the Los Angeles Daily News in January of last year. According to the newspaper, the complaint charged that Stevens told Susan Naranjo, an underling assigned to meet then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that “We both know that the only reason you’re getting this assignment is that you have bigger boobs.”
Naranjo, the lawsuit alleged, was “devastated at the degradation of being assigned due to her physical attractiveness as if she were chattel, and the subsequent degradation of being referred to as ‘the Villaraigosa girl.’” Stevens, then SEIU’s director of governmental relations, allegedly told another executive that she had “‘pimped out’ Naranjo at the demand of SEIU President Bob Schoonover, because Schoonover believed Villaraigosa liked ‘eye candy.’”
Stevens quit SEIU in 2015 “for reasons she said were unrelated to the lawsuit,” per the Daily News account. The case was subsequently settled out of court. Stevens said the allegations were then used to bully her from a 2018 race for the west San Fernando Valley Assembly seat vacated by Matt Dababneh, who had been forced from office by a sexual-misconduct scandal. “In addition to her political campaign work, Stevens has extensive experience working within government as well as working on the outside to influence legislation and policy,” says her online profile. “This depth of knowledge allows her to successfully navigate the halls of power.”
With two of her congressional staffers already on gratis summer trips out of the country, it didn’t take long for Democratic House member Susan Davis to hit the road herself before the end of this year’s vacation season, thanks to the Bill Gates foundation and other non-profit backers of the Aspen Institute. One of Congress’s most frequently traveled members, Davis headed for Africa with husband Steven Jay Davis for a weeklong tour starting August 12, according to a travel disclosure report dated August 28. Transportation expenses for the couple totaled $16,200, with rooms worth $1000 and meals valued at $840, as well as “other expenses,” including visa costs, of $1050.
The excursion to Rwanda included a stop at the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel, which “is a great place to start or end a gorilla safari,” says TheLuxuryTravelExpert.com. “The resort’s heart is a tropical garden, which features an 18 meter (60 ft) long landscaped swimming pool with a jacuzzi on the side. The pool is surrounded by sun decks, one of them located on an elevated terrace from where a small waterfall drops into the pool.” A meeting with Rwandan president Paul Kagame, HIV seminar, and a talk about the lack of women’s empowerment in the country rounded out the official bill. Last week Davis announced she would not run again for Congress.
Meantime, Davis’s fellow Democratic House member Mike Levin, elected last year to fill the North County seat of Republican Darrell Issa, was off to Israel with his wife Chrissy for eight days starting August 4, thanks to the American Israel Education Foundation. That operation is closely linked to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC, which bills itself as “America’s pro-Israel lobby.”
Valued at a total of $27,744, including $17,730 travel, $2819 in lodging, $3195 for meals, and $4000 of other expenses, the journey covered the traditional talking points of the Israel lobby, as well as Christian Sites at the Sea of Galilee. “For example, we will be visiting the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the most studied and read speech of any religion in history. Our guide will also lead discussions through Capernaum and St. Peter’s Church.”
The travelers stayed at the posh, five-star Scots Hotel in Tiberias, “the rare Israeli hotel that serves bacon at breakfast,” notes a review by Haaretz.
A subsequent tour that was planned by two other House Democrats, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, both Muslim, was blocked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acceding to the wishes of President Donald Trump.