On the heels of a report from the University of Southern California chiding San Diego's wealthy establishment for running the town as an "exclusionary enterprise" for big money special interests, campaign reporting season has arrived, revealing that not all of the city's ostensible vote-buying is done by rich locals.
"For many decades, San Diego leaders held a vision of progress that we would argue is a narrow one — focused on a limited set of industries and built on a fragmented social and economic landscape," intones the study by Manuel Pastor, Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez, and Jennifer Ito of USC's Program for Environmental and Regional Equity.
Add the researchers, "Businesses still see San Diego’s proximity to the border with Mexico as an opportunity to exploit the lower labor costs and to escape governmental regulation."
As it turns out, a fair amount of the $634,915 collected by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer during the first half of the year, according to his campaign's July 29 filing with the city clerk's office, originates from well-connected out-of-town sources to the north, including wealthy denizens of Rancho Santa Fe ($44,975); Del Mar ($15,349); Encinitas ($15,275); Carlsbad ($13,950); and Poway ($14,660).
Executives of developer Baldwin and Sons out of Newport Beach came up with $2550.
Within San Diego city limits, a sizable $86,057 was coughed up by those using La Jolla addresses, continuing the city's long tradition of fat cat political giving alluded to in the USC report.
Regarding questions raised by the study about the ballot defeat of the Barrio Logan community plan at the hands of Faulconer and his political ally, ex-GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, the ranks of the mayor's financial backers are filled with employees of the military contractors who forked over for last year's successful campaign to kill the proposal.
According to the Faulconer filing, a total of $7245 was given by employees of General Dynamics-owned National Steel and Shipbuilding, which outsources a sizable chunk of its shipyard work to a giant maquiladora complex it owns in Mexicali.
Other traditionally faithful groups of mayoral donors included workers at ACE Parking ($2800) and cell phone giant AT&T ($1300). Employees of Cox Communications from around the country, including Phoenix, Arizona, donated $3450.
Douglas Manchester, the real estate developer and ex-U-T San Diego owner who uses "Papa" in his name, and his executive Tom Voss, gave a total of $1500.
Media watchers are waiting to see if the rechristened Union-Tribune’s new publisher, ex-Los Angeles deputy mayor and investment banker Austin Beutner will alter Manchester's pro-Faulconer, see-no-evil coverage of the city’s pay-to-play political scene.
“Our own city has seen a chorus of ethics violations and influence peddling from city officials,” Beutner blogged about Los Angeles in January 2012 as he was mounting a subsequently abandoned bid to become mayor of the City of Angels. "Shameful, isn’t it? No wonder the public has little trust or respect for politicians.”
In addition to his own campaign stash, Faulconer, who has yet to face a serious opponent, is set to benefit from the $600,000 raised so far by a committee called "Communities United for Tomorrow’s Economy supporting the reelection of Mayor Faulconer."
As previously reported here, the group is masterminded by the GOP Lincoln Club and the Jerry Sanders-run chamber of commerce.
Unlimited by the city's campaign contribution limits, donors to that fund included the California Apartment Association's political action committee of Sacramento, which kicked in $25,000.