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Stories by Matt Potter

Like Johnson, like Faulconer?

Exiting Sacramento mayor departs city hall amid pall of scandal

The changing of Sacramento’s mayoral guard occurs this week, with the exit of Kevin Johnson, once a municipal wunderkind, now tarred by a graphically documented sex scandal and a series of political funny-money charity deals. ...

San Diego's border barons set first meeting of Trump era

Closed-door confab at posh Tecate bistro and the Mexico lobby's push-back

About a block from the U.S.-Mexico high-tech border fence that president-elect Donald Trump has pledged to turn into an impregnable wall, a select group of San Diego and Tijuana big-money establishment names are set to ...

Copley remembered in U-T

Anonomously, and four years later

In memoriam David Copley, the late Union-Tribune publisher who died at age 62 in a solo La Jolla crash of his Aston Martin on November 20, 2012 — almost four years after unloading the paper ...

Trump dump

Tweet gets a quick response from city hall

Onetime Republican assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who switched his registration to independent when the local GOP declined to endorse him for San Diego mayor — and later flipped to the Democrats after he went to work ...

See Trump's inauguration for free

"Don't expect anything posh"

Democratic House member Scott Peters of La Jolla likely assumed the person of the hour would be different when he procured a stash of official presidential inaugural tickets. Now he’s handing them out for free, ...

Clinton's Risen cash and Trump's meager San Diego money

Lopsided county fundraising advantage favored presidential loser until the end

Defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton departed the field with the most campaign cash from San Diego County, per data from the Federal Election Commission, reporting a total haul for the October pre-election disclosure period ...

Charity starts at home

KPBS and the state’s pension fund

How much do retired executives of KPBS, the San Diego State University–run, tax-funded public broadcasting operation that spins local news in ways seen by critics as benefiting the university’s donors — including the ultimately failed ...

Free turkeys, free publicity

Getting more than you give

Republican San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who recently came in second to Democratic ex–San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for California governor in the latest Field Poll, continues to collect big special-interest donations to One San ...

Audit hits SDSU interest conflicts and illegal faculty discounts

Campanile Foundation repeatedly broke federal and state accounting rules

An extensive list of financial irregularities and transparency transgressions committed in the name of in-house charities has been uncovered at San Diego State University by auditors for the California university system, raising a series of ...

The man who mistook his wife for a politico, and other Qualcomm tales

Mega-millionaire lavished nearly $4 million on spouse's failed GOP House bid

San Diegans in the political know are well familiar with the recently forged, political-money-fueled alliance between La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs and Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, widely said to be lining up campaign donors ...

Navy's "killer" dolphins replaced by robots? Not so fast

Audit says General Dynamics way behind on costly Project Knifefish

It was a big-money military contractor's dream. Build a fleet of futuristic underwater robots to replace the Navy's famous corps of mine-hunting dolphins and sea lions, headquartered at their San Diego base. "In general, we’re ...

Bad audit times at iHigh

Staffmembers "improperly paid"

San Diego Unified’s iHigh Virtual Academy, “a tuition-free public high school offering students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma primarily online,” per its website, has an overspending problem. So says a report for ...

SDSU’s six-figure club

It's bonus time at San Diego State

It’s November, extra cash time for executives at San Diego State University, where bonuses are being handed out by California State University trustees for “established goals met.” Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs ...

Last-minute contributions to Measure A campaign

Loaded railroaders

Wealthy out-of-town contractors doing business with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG for short) continued right up until the end to give big money to the agency’s ultimately failed sales-tax-raising Measure A, which fell ...

The sweet revenge of Golding's Grenell

Aide to ex-mayor's failed senate race and fierce DeMaio operative may be Trump's top diplomat

If all the ex–San Diegans on president-elect Donald Trump's reputed short list for administration posts get their gigs, the city could be one of the best represented in Washington's new era. Billionaire University of San ...

Billionaire USD grad short-listed for Trump's Treasury

Super-rich San Diego alum and Manchester-friendly financier could have cabinet lock

They appeared to be some of the darkest days of Doug Manchester’s life back in the summer of 2014, as the San Diego developer and Republican kingpin struggled to find enough cash to finance a ...

Bersin's worshipful online welcome back

Navarro in, Clinton-era border czar out among San Diego's DC power players

Speculation regarding which San Diegans are in and which are out in the dawning age of Donald Trump's Washington is well underway, with strong opinions by Forbes contributor Tim Worstall about the accelerated status of ...

Is Faulconer heading for a Jacobs fail?

Secret-keeping mayor and council said to fear public vote on $50 million parking debt

Two big San Diego losers in this week's election are looking for a big-money, tax-funded consolation prize in the form of a hurry-up city-council power-play that could ultimately forever emblazon the name of Qualcomm and ...

Sempra picks up the tab all over town

Energy foodies

Assemblyman Ben Hueso sat down to talk with representatives of San Diego–based Sempra Energy at Chula Vista’s Country Waffles on September 8, according to the company’s recent third quarter lobbying report. His tab was $13.89. ...

Irwin Jacobs' 50-year-old son, Jeff, pops question to 29-year-old La Jolla fashionista

Cellular chip set wedding

Word from city hall has it that Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs’s deal to bulldoze a new road through Balboa Park to a big automated parking garage he favors is exceeding cost estimates, requiring taxpayers to ...

Is today's election make or break for Union-Tribune?

Tronc financial chief Jimenez says of U-T and Manchester, "it's something that we had stepped into."

As votes are counted for this year's San Diego general election, Wall Street analysts are likely to have their eyes on an experiment that could have a crucial effect on the ultimate survival of the ...

SDSU and the big-money politics behind Lilac Hills Ranch

Tax-funded university tied to developer with secrecy-shrouded $3.5 million war chest

A San Diego State University-affiliated website has weighed into the big-money controversy over North County's proposed Lilac Hills Ranch housing development, going after what it says are undisclosed campaign contributions from an alleged "dark money" ...

City slams door on Faulconer-Chargers emails release

"Public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure," mayoral denial asserts

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer — whose ambitions for higher office are said by critics to have motivated his behind-the-scenes deal with the wealthy Republican Spanos clan to back a new tax-subsidized stadium and meeting ...

What WikiLeaks reveals about San Diego

Burghers beg and badger big politicos.

Presidential politics is about the imperial exercise of power, but this year, agents from a much older empire have seemingly penetrated the deepest realms of America’s ruling establishment, scattering secrets both profound and embarrassing across ...

Quid pro Peters

More from the WikiLeaks dump

An old Bill Clinton White House hand has shown up in the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton campaign honcho John Podesta’s emails, singing the free-trade praises of La Jolla Democratic House member Scott Peters. “I ...

Homeless PR agent

Tapping a Democratic practitioner of the art of spin

San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, a veteran of the high-dollar public relations world via the firm of NCG Porter Novelli, has tapped a Democratic practitioner of the art of spin to run his flagging ...

Closed-door meetings with Chargers preceded mayor's stadium backing

Behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing may have flouted influence-peddling laws

With the election little more than a week away, questions continue to bedevil San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer regarding the motives behind his deal with the Chargers to endorse the team's tax-subsidized downtown stadium and ...

Tronc'ed again: Union-Tribune faces yet more jobless fears

If Gannett deal dies, could bio-tech billionaire still grab piece of L.A. Times?

It may be curtains for media giant Gannett's multibillion-dollar deal for tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper chain that owns San Diego's Union-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, leaving employees of the troubled print-based business in more ...

Yes on K?

Todd Gloria appears confident

The Union-Tribune’s Successful Aging Expo last month featured booths for Carefree Vacations and Eyeglass World. But one sponsor raised eyebrows among some: the Hemlock Society, with tips on how to best use the state’s new ...

SANDAG meets well-financed opposition

DeMaio’s strange bedfellows

A bid by the San Diego Association of Governments, otherwise known as SANDAG, the tax-financed public agency in charge of funding everything from freeway routes to trolleys and buses here, has run into some resistance ...

Mobbed-up memories evoked by Trump's SD donor list

Widow who sued Arianna Huffington over Clinton Coronado adultery report kicks in for Hillary

The ghosts of two of San Diego's most controversial real estate moguls live on among the ranks of September San Diego donors to the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns. Son of a San Diego bootlegger ...

Book booze

Bring your library card and a designated driver

The old downtown public library was notorious for hosting legions of homeless inebriates haunting the stacks. Now the city is looking for a vendor who can purvey the hard stuff to higher-dollar crowds. “From a ...

Election law brawl

Soros versus Lincoln

San Diego Republicans are facing off against liberal billionaire George Soros in an improbable big-money brawl about whether the city should change its election laws. The way it is now, candidates for city office who ...

Kris Michell offers “year-round vibrancy”

Wonder woman

As questions continue about why San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has endorsed a hike in the city’s hotel tax to pay for a new $1.8 billion Chargers downtown stadium and meeting venue, the controversy has ...

What's in a stadium name?

Balboa Park building billionaire gives $5000 against Spanos stadium measure

The man most responsible for the expansion of Qualcomm stadium for the Chargers in 1997, ultimately handing the team a taxpayer-funded venue and a controversial ticket guarantee — along with an out-of-town exit pass — ...

SDSU’s beachy breakfast

Chamber goes all out to defeat Measure K

As the cost of running campaigns in San Diego has grown, so has the influx of major corporate and union contributions. An example is the big money rolling into the San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s ...

Miserly Moores and his minions

Measure D and muddy waters

Ever since his slate of members for election to the homeowners’ association board that runs Rancho Santa Fe was defeated in a controversy-filled election this past summer, mega-millionaire ex–Padres owner John Moores has gone to ...

How to die with $60 million worth of the Chargers

Late restaurateur and U-T publisher who boosted taxpayer subsidy ended up owning shares of team

With this week's death of Chargers minority owner George Pernicano at 98, his heirs may be looking at a $60 million payout from his 3 percent interest in the team, according to a back-of-the-envelope calculation ...

The Dick and Margaret show

Former San Diego Union reporter took on Ronald Reagan

Before she became a PBS news star, Margaret Garrard Warner was a reporter in the 1970s at the San Diego Union, the newspaper owned by wealthy Republican Helen Copley and run by editor Jerry Warren, ...

Is Proposition X a black hole?

Grossmont Community College and debt

The Infrastructure PAC of the Associated General Contractors has been giving heavily to back some controversial school bond measures around San Diego County appearing on November’s ballot — with one glaring exception. On September 15, ...

Susan Davis, queen of the London freebies

Congresswoman racked up $200,652 on 28 jaunts to exotic destinations

Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis of San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood was once one of the House of Representatives’ most-traveled members, thanks to a bevy of nonprofit, corporation-supported foundations eager to provide her with free trips abroad, ...

Mayor’s flip-flop leaves his political guru out of the money

Faulconer's "brain" in ethics battle with Fabiani vanishes from the stadium scene

The National Football League, known for its cast of loyal political bedfellows, has just picked up yet another apprentice, said by insiders to be enticed by the enormous pile of cash the league's mega-billionaire owners ...

Cate's Corn Hole stuffed by SDG&E's hard cash

Seeker of "thought leadership" pays for councilman's Mira Mesa charity tournament

The money-stuffed fists of San Diego Gas & Electric, subsidiary of utility giant Sempra, have once against demonstrated the company's formidable political punch by injecting a sizable dose of corporate cash into an event accruing ...

Meet the Filthy Rich Spanos Clan

They want you to buy them a stadium

How rich are members of the Spanos family, the NFL owners asking San Diego city voters to hike the tax on hotel visits and hand it over to subsidize a $1.8 billion professional football and ...

SDSU’s digital humans

The country’s first research-oriented digital humanities program focused on human and global diversity

San Diego State University may be more noted for sports than the humanities, but school higher-ups are currently looking to hire what they call a Digital Humanist. Not a robot, but “a humanities scholar who ...

Chick bait and the big-money merry-go-round

Clients seeking favor at City Hall include Airbnb, BOOS Development West, EBI Consulting, and Topgolf International

Yet another turn of the San Diego City Council staff’s rapidly revolving high-dollar door has landed former Chris Cate aide Julianna Chick in the offices of California Strategies, the influential lobbying and government affairs outfit ...

Georgia is on wandering Hunter’s mind

Fundraiser starring GOP congressman benefited charity picking up his foreign trip tab

San Diego congressman Duncan Hunter, who took sustained political fire earlier this year for personal use of campaign funds and since hired a lawyer to deal with the legal and regulatory fallout, took advantage of ...

Alpine’s Islamic fashionista antes up for Clinton

Presidential contenders vie for big money in wealthy San Diego neighborhoods

Democrat Hillary Clinton bumped up her San Diego county fundraising game last month, collecting a total of $520,590 from county residents, compared to a July take of $435,595, according to a computer analysis of the ...

Will the U-T go to Gannett?

Remote controller

As closed-door talks continue over a possible takeover of Chicago-based tronc, owner of the Union-Tribune, by giant newspaper chain Gannett Co., some are hoping for yet another fresh start for the San Diego daily, hobbled ...

Politicians backed by Brady campaign

Gun fight

Some county gun owners are said to be irate about a recent local political endorsement by the Washington DC–based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, but whether they will be loosening their campaign purse strings ...

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