Employees of a small defense contractor headquartered in Mission Valley have created a stir in local political circles with their flurry of contributions this past fall to Third District San Diego city council candidate Todd Gloria.
Korean-American Bryan Min, an ex-Navy nuclear engineer and currently president and CEO of Epsilon Systems Solutions, used federal minority business preferences to build his firm, which he founded in 1998. In June of last year, Min hired Dan Dufresne away from the staff of GOP congressman Brian Bilbray to be Epsilon’s in-house lobbyist and director of government relations. According to lobbyist registration statements filed last year with the House, Dufresne’s job was to “contact various Congressional offices” regarding “military procurement issues.” The registration was terminated last month.
So far this election cycle, Min and company have given a total of $4300 to Bilbray and backed two Democrats, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan and Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington. Levin chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Dicks is on the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
Todd Gloria is district director for Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. That leads some to speculate that the Min money is a way to curry favor with a key Congressional staffer.
But Min may harbor other reasons to have a friendly would-be city councilman on his side. He and his Epsilon employees have also given to April Boling, the Republican running in the council's seventh district. He’s on the board of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation and has unsuccessfully sought appointment to the Board of Port Commissioners. In addition, Epsilon chief operating officer Dwayne Junker has expressed repeated support for the controversial Navy Broadway Complex being developed by downtown hotel mogul Doug Manchester on Navy land at the foot of Broadway, telling the Daily Transcript, “If this doesn’t work…it’s going to be a step backward in essence.” Other speculation has it that Epsilon wants to snag contracting work paid for by Homeland Security grants funneled through the city. Min and Dufresne could not be reached for comment.