Shamu bucks GOP county supervisor Ron Roberts has been getting credit for a lot of free SeaWorld passes lately, donations made at the “behest” of Roberts by the Competitor Group, the San Diego–based outfit that runs the annual Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon here. The company has long been a player in local politics, most recently when president Scott Dickey came out as an independent for ex-GOP assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who himself departed Republican ranks in his failed bid to become San Diego mayor earlier this year. “We are fiscally conservative and socially progressive, a position and a place where many of us reside but neither party is willing to visit,” Dickey told an April news conference called to announce the Fletcher-backing organization Movement to the Middle. “We are no longer willing to accept the partisan gridlock and gamesmanship we see at all levels of our government.”
Over the years, Competitor and its acquisition Elite Racing have depended on local officials’ goodwill for various taxpayer subsidies, event permits, and police assistance. To advance its agenda at city hall, the firm uses the law and lobbying outfit Cooley LLP, whose most recent disclosure report revealed that its Anthony Stiegler gave Fletcher $250 on April 1, the same day Dennis Childs gave $100 to GOP city councilman Carl DeMaio, also running for mayor. Cooley’s Steve Strauss staged a “cocktail reception fundraiser” for Fletcher last November that raked in $5000.
According to a July 9 “Behested Payment Report,” Competitor came up with 500 SeaWorld passes worth a total of $36,500 to be distributed in the name of Roberts to worthy causes, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego; the South Bay Family YMCA; Pro Kids; Old Town Academy; Promises 2 Kids; and the San Pasqual Academy, an old pet project of the supervisor.
In an email last week, Roberts aide Sal Giametta explained that Competitor had “contacted us following race week this past June to let us know they had 500 SeaWorld passes left over that they wanted to distribute to local children’s groups, and asked if we could recommend any worthy organizations. The groups listed on the Behested Payment Report were the organizations that we recommended to the Competitor Group.”