The election isn’t until 2014, but Democratic governor Jerry Brown is already out raising money for his reelection campaign. Recent donors include beer-making giant Anheuser-Busch, with a $25,900 donation on January 28, and the California Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons PAC, with $17,500 on February 3. Then there is the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, operator of the famous track here, with $5000 on January 30, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California PAC, with an address in Del Mar, which kicked in $15,000 on February 3.
What makes the timing of the latter two contributions of interest is a recently reported lobbying campaign by the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach regarding four possible upcoming Brown appointments. As governor, Brown enjoys a big role in shaping the ultimate fate of the racing emporium, and political and horse-racing observers note that controversial plans to sell the state-owned fairgrounds, where the track is located, to the two cities have gone nowhere since Brown became governor.
Now serious jockeying has broken out among the various parties of interest regarding whom Brown should appoint to the 22nd District Agricultural Association board, which that oversees the complex. As the Coast News reported February 2, “[O]fficials in Del Mar and Solana Beach are working to ensure that at least one of those appointments is a resident from their cities, something they feel will result in better representation from the agency that governs the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds.” The story went on to quote Del Mar mayor Carl Hilliard as saying Brown seemed in a hurry to make the appointments.
“Hilliard said in December he received two emails in one day from different people telling him his recommendations were needed. He said he also got a voice message from Sonya Logman, [the governor’s] deputy appointments secretary, telling him he should just submit the names verbally.” But Brown spokesman Evan Westrup denied there was a rush. “That was probably just our appointment’s office doing what it does best, which is talking to the candidates and making sure we get the right people in those positions,” Westrup told the paper.
Interviewed by phone earlier this week, Hilliard said there have been no fresh developments and that other gubernatorial appointments have apparently taken precedence over filling the four Del Mar openings. He maintained that the timing of the Thoroughbred association campaign contributions to Brown is likely a coincidence.
In an email, Brown spokesman Westrup said: “We are in the process of identifying and selecting candidates to fill these seats. Our focus is ensuring we fill these vacancies with top-notch candidates. That ultimately dictates the timing of our appointments.”