Score a round for La Jolla billionaire Democrat Irwin Jacobs against his longtime political nemesis, Republican U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester, in their long-running campaign proxy war of the titans.
On Wednesday, September 3, freshman Democratic congressman Scott Peters (who is backed by Jacobs) rolled out an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which declared, “We will encourage the business community to vigorously support your candidacy.”
Manchester favorite and GOP candidate Carl DeMaio pooh-poohed the announcement, saying through a spokesman, "They know Carl DeMaio is coming to end the perks for this crowd."
But, as the Jacobs-funded Voice of San Diego nonprofit news-and-opinion website gloated, "Funny story: The Chamber of Commerce says DeMaio actually sought its endorsement."
If DeMaio did indeed ask for the U.S. Chamber's endorsement, as chamber political director Rob Engstrom was quoted as saying he did, it was a sucker's move.
It's no secret within the world of Washington lobbyists (though not acknowledged in Jacobs-backed San Diego media) that Qualcomm and its founder have plenty of clout with both Peters and the U.S. Chamber.
The billionaire's considerable corporate influence was on full display in May, when Peters, along with GOP ex–San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders (another longtime Jacobs favorite), headlined an "innovation economy showcase" featuring the U.S. Chamber, staged at Qualcomm headquarters.
“I’m proud to welcome the U.S. Chamber to San Diego as we continue showing the country why our region is the best place to start and build a business,” Peters was quoted as saying in a May 13 news release.
“Thanks to Scott Peters and Jerry Sanders for bringing business leaders together to talk about what they're doing together to create jobs in San Diego,” said U.S. Chamber executive Scott Eckart.
More evidence of Qualcomm's cozy relationship with the national chamber can be found on the website of its nonprofit affiliate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
A March 26 post, headlined "How Qualcomm’s Angela Baker Changes Lives Through the Power of a Smart Phone," proclaimed, "Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach program values and promotes that access to mobile technology can give women opportunities to better themselves and their families."
All the good ink hasn’t come without a price.
A 2013 political disclosure statement filed by Qualcomm under the terms of an agreement reached with the New York state comptroller's office to settle charges that it was concealing its contributions to influence, shows that the cell-phone giant paid $170,000 to the U.S. Chamber during the 12 months ending last September.
In addition, during the first half of the company's fiscal 2014, ending March 30 of this year, according to a subsequent report, the corporation paid the U.S. Chamber $475,000, bringing the company’s total support for the business-lobbying group to $645,000.
In addition to Qualcomm's hefty backing for the U.S. Chamber, the company's fiscal 2013 report shows that the firm gave $50,000 to the Sanders-run San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
And yet another Peters fan at the May 13 Qualcomm event has also benefited from the company's largesse.
“I want to thank Rep. Peters for continuously showcasing San Diego’s innovation economy on a national stage,” the Peters news release quoted Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, as saying.
“Because of his leadership, the U.S. Chamber will experience the region’s world-class talent pool, diverse industries and inventive companies first hand.”
According to Qualcomm's fiscal 2013 disclosure, Cafferty's group got $35,000.