The battle over control of San Diego's city hall — being fought in large part by cash from unions versus corporate and real estate interests — is getting more vigorous.
The city's GOP Lincoln Club is out with its latest hit piece against David Alvarez, blasting the Eighth District city council Democrat for taking money from out-of-town donors and saying that Alvarez held a January 16 fundraiser in Sacramento to which unspecified lobbyists were invited to show up and kick in $5000 each.
A photo on the piece, featuring who appears to be Alvarez typing on his smartphone as he sits in a leather easy chair in front of a cozy-looking brass-adorned fireplace, is captioned "Actual Photo of David Alvarez at his private $5,000/person sit-down with Sacramento lobbyists."
An unidentified man’s bald head can also be seen in the picture.
Above that is a big headline accusing Alvarez of being "a mayor for Out-of-Town Special Interests."
Driving home the point is a clip from the Voice of San Diego website (backed by Qualcomm founder and Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs, whose own candidate Nathan Fletcher lost in the primary after being thrashed by the Lincoln Club) with a quote from CEO Scott Lewis saying, "In fact, the list of corporate CEOs who support Alvarez is actually quite lengthy."
This being politics, the piece doesn't get around to mentioning that many of the donors who contributed to its sponsor, "Working Together for Neighborhood Fairness in opposition to David Alvarez for Mayor 2014 sponsored by the Lincoln Club of San Diego," also hail from out of town.
They include the California Apartment Association PAC of Sacramento, with $10,000 on January 15; Stuck in the Rough, LLC, run by a Beverly Hills investor; $50,500; and a mysterious outfit called NVS, Inc. of Hollywood, Florida, $5000.
In addition, the anti-Alvarez hit pieces are backed by some major local money, including $10,000 from U-T San Diego cable-TV host Roger Hedgecock's Worldwide Community Forum, Inc. and $10,000 from Mission Valley developer Tom Sudberry. Contractor Bergelectric Corp. of Escondido came up with $25,000.
As previously reported, Dart Container, a Michigan-based plastic-cup-making giant lobbying hard against municipal restrictions on use of Styrofoam, has given $15,000 to a pro-Faulconer committee.
For his part, disclosure records show that Alvarez has indeed been raking in his share of special-interest money from far beyond city limits.
Willie Brown, the former Democratic assembly speaker and ex-mayor of San Francisco, now an unregistered influence-peddler, gave $1000 on January 15.
According to an account last October in the Sacramento Bee, Brown's unofficial lobbying clients include a group of card-room industry proponents.
Brown will serve as a behind-the-scenes consultant to the card room group, Blonien said. The former speaker is not a registered lobbyist so his work on behalf of the cardrooms will not be evident in the public record. Unlike lobbyists, consultants do not have to publicly report who pays them or how much.
Brown is among a cadre of former government officials — including former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez — who represent private sector clients without registering as lobbyists. The Fair Political Practices Commission recently fined three highly connected consultants for engaging in lobbying without registering.
A portion of Alvarez's support comes from out-of-towners with an apparent interest in environmental policy.
Among contributions to the county Democratic Party, which is backing Alvarez, is $15,000 from Martin Bunzl, a Rutgers University philosophy professor whose address is listed as La Jolla.
According to Wikipedia, Bunzl directed the Rutgers Initiative in Climate and Social Policy from 2007 to 2011. "Bunzl is currently examining the experimental methodology and ethics of geoengineering."
An independent committee called the "Environmental Health and Justice Campaign Fund Working to Elect David Alvarez for Mayor 2014” got a total of $10,000 from Sandor and Faye Straus of tony Lafayette, California, on January 17.
His occupation is listed as an investment manager with Edgestream Partners, L.P., and he also is treasurer of the Marine Mammal Center.
Among out of town special interests giving to both Alvarez and Faulconer are employees of Capitol Outdoor, a Washington, DC–based billboard outfit seeking major changes in San Diego's sign regulations.