A well-financed campaign on behalf of Republican city councilman Kevin Faulconer for mayor that is being waged by the San Diego Police Officers Association has been bankrolled not by the cops themselves, but by a group of wealthy builders with their own ambitious city hall lobbying agenda.
A January 28 disclosure statement by the police labor organization, posted online by the city clerk's office, says that on January 24 the Building Industry Association of San Diego County PAC contributed $20,000 to the officers association’s political action committee, which on January 27 spent $14,975 for literature, robo-calls, and an email blast on behalf of GOP candidate Faulconer.
According to the Building Industry Association's lobbyist registration statement, filed January 10, the group has a lengthy influence-seeking agenda at city hall, none directly involving police or public safety.
Among other items, the builders are lobbying against the so-called linkage fee subsidized housing program and for "regulatory relief" to "identify policy changes to improve the project review process."
In addition, during the final quarter of last year, according to an October 31, 2013, filing, the builders association sought to expedite city "fee deferral agreements” and "ensure that [Facility Benefit Assessment Districts] do not overcharge new development."
This isn't the first time the San Diego police labor organization has been bankrolled by outside groups.
In the November 2013 mayoral primary, the cops' group backed Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher for mayor; $33,000 in funding for the effort was provided by a contribution from an independent expenditure committee backing Fletcher called “Restoring Trust in San Diego - A Committee to Support Nathan Fletcher for Mayor 2013.”
In addition, $15,000 for the POA's campaign committee was provided by Unite HERE Local 30, a hotel workers’ union. Markstein Beverage Company of San Marcos contributed $5000.
The cops also supported Fletcher, then a self-proclaimed independent, in the 2012 election race ultimately won by ex-mayor Bob Filner.
During that campaign, the San Diego police labor group received funds from law-enforcement unions in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Chula Vista to launch a last-minute $30,000 volley of TV attack ads against GOP city councilman Carl DeMaio, the building industry's choice for mayor.
Meanwhile, a San Francisco political action committee called PowerPAC.org Voter Fund has kicked in $5000 to a Chula Vista campaign committee calling itself “New Majority Matters Supporting David Alvarez for Mayor 2013.” According to that group's report, filed January 29, it had $18,378 cash on hand as of January 25.
Information on file with the California Secretary of State's office shows that donors to the PowerPAC fund have included the California Charter Schools Association Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee, with $14,100 on October 11 of last year, and Steve Phillips, listed as self-employed, with $30,000 on October 9.
Phillips, a San Francisco lawyer, is the founder of PowerPAC, which the Washngton Post described in February 2008 as "a nonprofit advocacy group that aims to mobilize black voters."
In that year's Super Tuesday primary campaign, the group backed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, though not with the future president's permission.
Obama has criticized big spending by outside groups, notably those who backed John Edwards's campaign in Iowa.
The Obama campaign sent a letter to PowerPAC's founder, San Francisco lawyer Steve Phillips, asking that his group to discontinue its efforts, so as not to undermine the Illinois senator's message.
But Phillips thought otherwise. "We respect their position that Barack is trying to be a leader and keep money out of politics," Phillips said. "But we think this is very consistent with his message."
Phillips added that, like Obama, PowerPAC is trying to create "the next wave of organizers and elected officials for the next 20 years."