• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

— Campaign fundraising in San Diego County never ends. Immediately after election day last November, politicians of every stripe were out, hat in hand, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a host of wealthy donors who sought to influence the course of government. In the city of San Diego, financial-disclosure forms reveal that freshmen councilmembers Jim Madaffer, Scott Peters, Brian Maienschein, and Toni Atkins, along with Mayor Dick Murphy, used their newly minted incumbency to tap thousands of dollars in post-election contributions from city's hall special-interest lobbyists.

In the nation's capital, of course, it was the same story, where officeholders and their political parties scrambled for post-election dollars. Sometimes the late money came from donors who are shy about showing their faces until the election is over, for fear of causing voter backlash or creating an inconvenient controversy for the candidate. For instance, GOP congressman Daryl Issa's $1000 post-election contributors included Philip Morris Companies and Microsoft.

But the real post-election action was at San Diego city hall, where most of the late money has come from developers, bankers, contractors, and others with business pending before the city council. What makes the after-the-fact contributions of more than casual interest is the fact that several of the new councilmembers made large personal loans to their own campaigns. As of December 31, most of those loans were still unpaid, and so, as campaign contributions are collected, they go straight into the pockets of the successful candidates. Since the loans are far from being paid off, the officeholders will most likely be fundraising well into the future, hitting up all manner of lobbyists and favor-seekers for contributions to pay down their personal debt.

After the election, Mayor Murphy told a reporter for the Union-Tribune that his victory over a better-financed foe demonstrated that "politicians cannot buy an election in San Diego....Volunteers sending postcards to their friends, knocking on doors and spreading the word by word of mouth, that is so much more credible than a television ad." Though he was heavily outspent, Murphy did manage to collect more than $705,000. He also made personal loans to his campaigns, owes money to campaign consultants, and has since hit up the usual city hall special interests in order to reduce his sizable deficit.

Murphy's campaign closed out the year 2000 owing $110,000 to a variety of campaign vendors, including Murphy's campaign manager and now chief-of-staff John Kern ($10,000); Cynthia Vicknair's CynKat Communications ($10,000); the Gemini Group of Williamsburg, Virginia ($5000); Rachel Shira ($5000); and campaign treasurer William Baber ($5000). The balance, $75,000, was owed to Murphy himself, according to the mayor's campaign-finance disclosure statement. During the year leading up to the election, Murphy loaned his campaign $50,000 in December 1999; $25,000 in February 2000; and a final $22,500 on November 14, 2000, a week after the election. Only $22,500 of that has been paid back or forgiven, according to the report.

To pay off his campaign debts, records show, Murphy has been working the city hall lobbying circuit. And not without irony, many of Murphy's new donors were stalwart supporters of county supervisor Ron Roberts, Murphy's vanquished opponent in the mayoral race.

Take for instance John Davies, the seasoned San Diego power broker, University of California regent, longtime associate of ex-governor Pete Wilson, and close friend, confidante, and financial backer of Roberts. Davies, who owns property downtown and represents many wealthy investors, including the old-line Hunte family, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the multimillion-dollar Roberts campaign. Yet on December 20, Davies and his wife Anne gave Murphy the maximum personal contribution of $250 each.

Similarly, longtime Padres lobbyist Michel Anderson, who boasts a list of other clients in addition to the baseball team -- including American Medical Response, Chabad Hebrew Academy, Lennar Communities, Moondoggies, and West Coast Cab Company -- gave Mayor Murphy $250 on December 1. Before the election, Anderson had been an early Roberts backer, contributing $250 in April 1999. His name appeared on numerous Roberts fundraising appeals.

In the same vein, executives of Montgomery Watson, the multinational engineering company that specializes in giant public works projects -- such as sewer and water-treatment plants -- and which holds millions of dollars in city contracts, were also early Roberts backers. Company engineer William Moser of Cardiff gave Roberts $250 on December 3, 1999; engineer Mark Umphres gave $100 the same date. Company vice president Harold Glaser, who lives in Temecula, gave Roberts $250 on March 3, 2000. No Montgomery Watson employees are listed as giving to Murphy during the campaign.

After the election, it was another story. On December 20, Montgomery Watson engineer Thomas Bailey gave the Murphy campaign $250. Engineer Umphres also kicked in $250, as did engineer Moser. On December 27, Glaser, the Montgomery Watson vice president, gave Murphy $250, as did Mark Biggers, a Boulder, Colorado-based civil engineer employed by the company.

Similarly, "public affairs" consultant Laurie Black, daughter-in-law of the late Hotel Del Coronado mogul Larry Lawrence, gave $250 on November 17. During the campaign, she had backed Roberts with a $250 contribution on May 12, 2000. And construction-company owner Peter Filanc of Rancho Santa Fe had, along with his wife Francesca, given Roberts a total of $750 through June of last year. On December 20, he gave Murphy $150.

That same day, many other members of the local building industry who had backed Roberts wrote checks for Murphy. Richard Collins of Collins Plumbing, who had given Roberts $250 in April 1999, gave Murphy $250. Thomas Johnson, a vice president with Nielsen Dillingham, which is co-contractor on the stalled Padres ballpark, contributed $150 to Murphy. During the campaign he had given Roberts $500. David McKinley, environmental manager for ISP Alginates, Inc., had given Roberts $250 in March 2000. On December, 20, he gave Murphy $150.

On November 22, 1999, David Krauth of Ramona, a "transportation engineer" with Linscott, Law & Greenspan, had given Roberts $100. On December 20, 2000, David Krauth of the same address gave Murphy $150, though his occupation, as listed on the Murphy report, had changed to "retired." Stephen Jensen, also of Ramona, gave Roberts a total of $200 in late 1999. His occupation is listed as vice president of "SCST." Stephen Jensen of the same address gave $150 to Murphy on December 20, 2000. Jensen is also listed on the Murphy report as retired. Howard Katz, listed on Roberts's report as president of SCST, was an early Roberts backer, having given $150 in November 1999. On December 20, 2000, still listed as SCST president, he gave the same amount to Murphy. Public records show that SCST stands for Southern California Soils Testing.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

More from the web

Comments

Sign in to comment