Amid the big-money heat of the current campaign to replace fallen Democrat Bob Filner for mayor of San Diego, Republican district attorney Bonnie Dumanis has been on a mission of her own to raise cash by invoking the ghost of some embarrassing GOP financial shenanigans of the past.
Ramping up for her reelection bid next year, Dumanis has just launched her latest foray for what the late California assembly speaker Jess Unruh famously called the mother's milk of politics with a hard-hitting email against Robert Brewer, her best-funded challenger so far.
My opponent is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer who brags that he's willing to spend $1 million to defeat me. That kind of spending could translate into a mountain of misleading ads during the campaign.
We've set an ambitious November goal of raising thousands of dollars through grassroots contributions to fight back.
The email offers a preview of the kind of take-no-prisoners campaign Dumanis, who came in fourth in last year's race for San Diego mayor, is expected to wage to hold on to her job.
We're going to do everything we can to hit our November goal because we can't let all the progress we've made in the District Attorney's Office be undone — especially by someone whose clients scammed taxpayers and investors out of tens of millions of dollars.
That jab is an apparent reference to Nancy Hoover, the onetime Del Mar mayor and close associate and financial backer of Republican Roger Hedgecock, forced to resign as mayor of San Diego in the mid-1980s money-laundering scandal that followed the collapse of J. David Dominelli's Ponzi scheme.
Dominelli was Hoover's boyfriend; Hedgecock is now a talk-show host on U-T San Diego, the cable-TV operation owned by GOP stalwart Doug Manchester.
According to Brewer's profile on the website of his law firm, Jones, Day:
Bob has represented several San Diego Superior Court judges who have been the focus of investigations, including Michael Greer, who was indicted for bribery in 1996. In 1989 Bob was co-counsel for ex-mayor of Del Mar, California, Nancy Hoover, in a nine-month federal securities fraud trial.
Dumanis concludes her message with:
Click here to chip in $40 right now to help fight back against my opponent, who made his money defending some of San Diego's most notorious criminals, crooks and con men.
But even as she hits Brewer for ties to the local white-collar crime set, the D.A. herself has not been above collecting campaign cash from more than a few persons of interest to law enforcement here.
As reported in August, her campaign got $500 from National City car dealer Tony McCune, a key figure in so-called "Rolodex Madam" Karen Wilkening's high-dollar prostitution case that Dumanis handled as a young assistant prosecutor in 1989.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times in June of that year, McCune admitted on the stand that he'd had sex with prostitutes provided by Wilkening and later helped fund her temporary escape to the Philippines. According to the story, "Deputy Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis declined comment when asked if McCune [was] going to be charged with a crime."
He never was.
In addition to McCune's financial backing, records show Dumanis has received $1400 this year from Dominic J. "Bud" Alessio and his wife Katherine. He served a stretch in federal prison for giving gratuities to federal prison officials.
In exchange for Alessio-provided gifts of food, lodging, and entertainment, the feds had done favors — including arranging unauthorized visits with women — for his father, the notorious border gambling mogul Johnny Alessio, and his brother Angelo when they were doing time for a 1971 tax-evasion rap.