Readers of the U-T San Diego editorial page may still be wondering about the connection between GOP ex-assemblywoman Shirley Horton and U-T editorial writer-in-chief Bill Osborne, but there’s no doubt Horton sank some heavy personal cash into getting noticed. According to a mid-year campaign statement Horton filed after her failed June bid for state Board of Equalization, the former Chula Vista mayor lent her own campaign $40,000 in March.
As a political loser, Horton may or may not get get the money back. In addition to her personal investment in the race, during the campaign, Horton raised $60,000 from an array of familiar political donors, including $1000 from Resmed, Inc. founder and chairman Peter Farrell, who has threatened to decamp from California if his taxes get too high. But that was peanuts compared to the $6000 Horton picked up on April 21 from Douglas Manchester, the voluble mega-millionaire publisher of U-T San Diego. Other four-figure contributions included $6800 from ex–San Diego city manager and Borrego developer Jack McGrory; $5000 from fallen San Diego port commission and South Bay financier David Malcolm; $5000 from the Sycuan casino–owning tribe; $2500 from the developer Corky McMillin Companies; and $2000 from Mission Valley developer Tom Sudberry. Retired liberal Chula Vista newspaper publisher Lowell Blankfort also kicked in $2000.
Besides making his monetary donation to the cause, hotel developer and GOP kingpin Manchester employed his paper to editorialize on Horton’s behalf, disparaging her Orange County opponent Republican assemblywoman Diane Harkey by citing Harkey’s alleged unwillingness to talk about a “family scandal” regarding her husband’s business matters. At the bottom of the piece was a disclaimer, saying, “The decision to endorse Horton was made by the newspaper’s owners in consultation with some members of the Editorial Board. Editorial and Opinion Editor Bill Osborne, who has a conflict of interest, didn’t participate in this process or in the writing or editing of this editorial.” A description of the nature of the conflict has not yet been furnished by the U-T.