San Diego City Council president Ben Hueso has been feathering more than just his assembly campaign’s nest of late. A recently filed disclosure statement shows that he’s been getting big money for his legal defense fund from special interests with business at city hall. They include Tom Sudberry Jr. of Scripps Highland M/I Development L.P., who gave $500, and Dale Marquardt of Marquardt Properties, working on a 24-unit apartment project, also a $500 contributor. Other donations include $500 from pawnbroker Francisco Anzar of Monte de Piedad; $500 from Omar Anzar, another pawnbroker, of Anzar Enterprises, Inc.; $250 from Brian Dinerstein of the Dinerstein Companies; and $250 from Joshua Vasbinder of DMC Builders Co., Inc.
Since setting up the fund, Hueso’s gotten a total of $15,585, with $3000 of that coming in during the three months of July, August, and September. During the same period, the fund paid $1756 to the L.A. law firm of Strumwasser & Woocher and reimbursed Hueso $2500 for his “initial retainer deposit to attorney.”
Hueso set up the fund in early 2008 after he was accused in a confidential complaint to the City’s Ethics Commission of “Participation in Municipal Decision Involving Economic Interests,” according to records. He was never charged in the case. Under city law, the lifetime of such legal defense funds is supposed to be limited to six months, but Ethics Commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst granted Hueso a six-month extension of time, “because the committee demonstrated that it was making a diligent effort to pay off its debts,” according to the minutes of the commission’s May 14, 2009 meeting.