San Diego Clyde Fuller says he's through with politics. He doesn't want to discuss his failed race for the San Diego Unified school board against John de Beck ever again, period. "It's over, it's over, it's over," Fuller repeats over and over into the phone. "Once and for all. It's over!"
Well, not quite. First-time candidate Fuller, it appears, left behind an e-mail chronicle of his maiden bid for public office, complete with candidly graphic characterizations of his foes and perceived injustices committed by a newspaper reporter. The e-mails were reportedly sent to a small inner circle of Fuller backers during the final two months of the campaign. After being read their content last week during a telephone interview, Fuller would neither confirm nor deny that he had authored them. "I write a lot of e-mails," he said. "I'm not going to talk about any of them. The election is over, it's all over, and that's all I have to say."
John de Beck appeared poised to run unopposed for reelection until Fuller emerged as a surprise candidate just days before the filing deadline in the first week of December 2001. Hardly a household name before his ill-fated school-board campaign, Fuller's brief appearances in the pages of the Union-Tribune over the years had been limited to mentions in society writer Burl Stiff's column. A retired FBI agent and Pacific Beach resident with a lantern jaw and a flowing mane of blond hair, Fuller has close ties to the middle-aged beach-area party culture; his biggest public role before his school-board race was as chairman of the 2002 National Lifeguard Championship.
Thus his sudden entry into the District C race against Democrat de Beck -- an ex-teacher closely tied to the San Diego Education Association, the teachers' union -- provoked easy speculation that Fuller had been recruited by the city's anti-union, pro-business lobby. During the campaign, Fuller, a supporter of school superintendent Alan Bersin, benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled into the race on his behalf by the county's GOP Central Committee and the Lincoln Club, a Republican campaign-funding organization.
The largest Republican donations to the Fuller cause came from downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham and Wal-Mart heir John Walton, a champion of charter schools. Billionaire Eli Broad, a Los Angeles Democrat and close friend and supporter of school district superintendent Bersin, also contributed more than $30,000.
The intervention of big business and development interests was used by the teachers' union as a campaign issue against both Fuller and Katherine Nakamura, the pro-Bersin candidate in District B, who, like Fuller, was the beneficiary of the money spent by Broad, Burnham, and the city's other financial interests. "I don't want to get into that," Fuller said repeatedly when asked about the motives of his backers during a telephone interview last week. "The election is over. I lost. We should move beyond whatever it is you're trying to say. It's over."
But whatever Fuller's current druthers, his campaign lives on in the e-mails. Signed "Clyde" or "C," they are full of attacks on the teachers' union and other Fuller detractors. They also say that, like many politicians -- especially those who suffer at the hands of voters -- Fuller blamed the media for many of his woes. Ironically, the memos suggest, he took particular umbrage at U-T education writer Maureen Magee, who covered the two school-board campaigns for the paper.
In August, Magee had broken the story that many observers feel ultimately led to the demise of Jeff Lee, the anti-Bersin, pro-teachers' union candidate running against Nakamura in District B. According to Magee's account, attributed to documents provided by an anonymous source, Lee, while an officer in the Navy, had abused sailors on a Navy frigate under his command. The piece, which ran under the headline "School board candidate's military past checkered," was repeatedly cited by Union-Tribune editorial writer Robert Kittle during various appearances he made on KPBS and Cox Cable television attacking Lee's reputation. The information also made its way into U-T editorials, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, radio spots, and direct mail hit pieces paid for by the pro-Nakamura business interests. Lee declined to return fire and was edged out by Nakamura.
But Fuller, according to the following unedited e-mail memos -- some humorous, some written in obvious frustration -- apparently thought Magee was out to get him and Nakamura. The memos say he also found a variety of other conspiracies lurking around every bend of his rocky campaign trail.
OK, is it me or do I understand that the Sec. of Ed. for the U.S. and the Cal. State Superintendent for Education can now be added to the giant conspiracy along with the "builders and developers" that are trying to take over the school system.
I'm surprised she [Ed: the memo apparently refers to a reporter] hasn't mentioned the world wide Jewish banking cartel (I need to get their number because we may need to use their meeting hall as our "group" is growing)
I will have to say for being such a poor and lazy writer, the thought of writing something derogatory seems to spur her creative juices.
It was pretty difficult to write something derogatory about what I thought was a positive visit, but she did it.
The Sec. of Ed. visits and she writes up an interview of the Pres. of the SDEA.
FYI someone with the large SDEA button asked last night how many years I spent in the CIA and why did the CIA want to be involved in our local school system.
(I told them that they were always looking for well educated students).
KPBS TV tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.
Just a little FYI re this forum.
The forum was put on by the Latino Coalition on Education.
A group created out of thin air by [a former school-district employee], recently fired from SD schools and very disgruntled, and several other long time Bersin critics who are openly supportive of deBeck and Lee.