It hasn’t been the greatest of political years for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Its last-minute, closed-door deal with Mayor Jerry Sanders to pass the sales-tax-raising Proposition D backfired when proponents failed to persuade skeptical voters that either Sanders or the chamber — both of which have long touted costly taxpayer-financed City projects — had the public’s interests at heart. And recent disclosure documents have reinforced the message, showing that chamber executives aren’t exactly average wage earners.
A key spokesman for the failed measure was chamber president and chief executive Ruben Barrales, a former Bush White House staffer. Federal tax filings covering 2008 show Barrales received a compensation package — including salary, bonus, deferred compensation, nontaxable benefits, and other compensation — with a total value of $372,241. Chief financial officer William Scarfia made $176,601; events vice president William Holman, $162,259; and membership vice president Douglas Holman, $165,175.
According to the Form 990, filed August 12 of this year, the group brought in total revenue of $4,081,142. The disclosure adds that “a group of chamber directors traveled to Mexico City to meet with sub-cabinet government.” That excursion was said to have cost $17,949.
Another wealthy Prop D backer, Julie Meier Wright, chief executive of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, which gets part of its revenue from taxpayers, made $372,209 in 2008, the latest period for which tax returns were immediately available. After Prop D lost, she wrote an op-ed piece in the Union-Tribune calling for the City to make $900 million of cuts over the next five years.