Recent donations to new Filner fund show Democratic mayor already building war chest observers say could counter wealthy GOP hotel magnates
As reported here in February, in the midst of a legal attack by the city's top three hotel moguls to force him to sign a funding contract negotiated by previous GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, Democrat Bob Filner set up a new political committee.
Called the "Mayor Bob Filner for San Diego Committee," the group's February 26 filing said the cash it raised would be used to "Support or Oppose City of San Diego Ballot Measures." No other details were given.
Several local political observers have speculated that the fund, the next regular disclosure of which is due at the end of July, could be used to ward off future political challenges to the mayor from the hotel interests.
C. Terry Brown, owner of Atlas Hotels in Mission Valley, is a major player in the local Republican party and is linked to the San Diego Taxpayers Association, the downtown business lobbying group that ran an ultimately failed campaign to get the mayor to sign off on the big hoteliers' funding deal.
Brown is allied with fellow mega-innkeepers Bill Evans, Richard Bartell, and Douglas Manchester, who also owns UT San Diego, a staunch Filner foe.
As has been traditionally the case with the big money maneuverings of both Republican and Democratic San Diego machines, the public will no doubt be the last to know.
However, a recent disclosure by a major local developer sheds a bit more light on some of the city's longtime big money players.
According to yesterday's filing by Stuart Posnock and Affiliated Entities, dated May 9 and posted online by the city clerk's office, Posnock, the CEO of Garden Communities, channeled $10,000 to the new Filner committee through separate $1000 contributions made on May 3 by various associated business entities, including La Jolla Crossroads, Costa Verde East Village, and Scripps Mesa Developers.
Another filing Posnock made last year, discloses that he had previously backed Filner's GOP foe Carl DeMaio with a $500 contribution in June 2011 and $5000 to DeMaio's controversial pension reform efforts in August of that year.
As previously reported here, Garden Communities has employed the downtown law and lobbying firm of Sheppard Mullin to advocate its projects at city hall.
Garden Communities also paid downtown lobbyist Paul Robinson's law and lobbyng firm of Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley $1,000 during the first quarter of this year for advocacy work it did regarding "changing entitlted use at 9085 Judicial Drive," according to a disclosure filing posted online by the city clerk's office.
Garden is one of many corporations under the umbrella of billionaire Zygi Wilf, owner with his family of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, who orchestrated a new taxpayer funded stadium after various threats to move the team.
As reported here in April 2001, the Garden entities have long been a mainstay of San Diego political funding, including the campaign of ex-GOP mayor Dick Murphy, who abruptly quit the job with little explanation in mid-term.
Perhaps the most intriguing group of "retirees" listed by the Murphy campaign is connected with Garden Communities, a large residential and shopping-center development company based in New Jersey.
Based on a review of public records, six Murphy donors listed as retired are actually owners of the firm or have active business associations with it. They include Joseph Wilf of Hillside, New Jersey; Leonard Wilf of Short Hills, New Jersey; Zygmunt Wilf of Springfield, New Jersey; Scott Loventhal of Livingston, New Jersey; Mario Dudzinski of Pinebrook, New Jersey; and Joseph Korn of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Stuart B. Posnock of San Diego is listed by the Murphy campaign as president of Garden Communities. In all, the Garden Communities-related donors gave Murphy $1750. The same donors also contributed to the campaign of city councilmen Brian Maienschein and Scott Peters.
Repeated calls to Garden Communities offices in both San Diego and New Jersey went unreturned. Joseph Wilf was contacted by telephone at his home in New Jersey. Asked why he was interested in San Diego politics, Wilf responded: "My interest? Actually, I am not used to giving interviews on the telephone. It's kind of unusual. Our name is known in the San Diego area. Why should I respond on the phone? I have no information. My contribution was a few hundred dollars."
Public records show that companies related to the Wilf family own millions of dollars of real estate in San Diego. Wilf-related entities include Costa Verde Hotel, LLC La Jolla Canyon Gardens, Pacific Bay Gardens, La Jolla Crossroads, Cape La Jolla Gardens, Torrey Ranch, DMG Associates, 820 Associates, and Villa La Jolla Gardens.
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- More special interest cash rolls into Filner's political fund — July 30, 2013
- Big three hotel moguls girding for Filner war? — July 23, 2013