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Stories by Matt Potter

Wendy Walker spills the scandals

It’s Notorious

The star of one of Rancho Santa Fe’s messiest divorces is taking her tales to network television as the creator of a new ABC series aptly called Notorious. “It’s the thrill of a lifetime, said ...

Gun mogul's cash targeted Gaspar for assault weapons vote

AR-15 accessory-maker backed PAC attack on Encinitas mayor called flip-flopper

A San Diego gun-owners’ group financed by a wealthy Santee-based assault-weapons magnate that drew a June primary bead on county supervisorial candidate Kristin Gaspar may now be open to a change of mind. From the ...

Money makes the Issa go around

Chargers-backing GOP house member turns to old friends for fresh cash

With North County Republican congressman Darrell Issa facing a tight reelection race in the fall, Washington special interests are expected to ante-up major cash for his Darrell Issa Victory Fund 2016. So far this election ...

Tragic history for sale at downtown library auction

Mid-century chairs and homeless tables go on the block

Thousands of items of San Diego bibliophilic history are headed for the auction block this coming Saturday, June 11, at the old downtown library at 820 E St. "The Historic San Diego Central Library — ...

No radioactive threat, just a big mess

This way out

Downtown’s Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel has just gotten rid of 70 radioactive “self-luminous exit signs,” according to an inventory sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Exit signs that glow in the dark often contain a ...

Rep. Peters gets his hands dirty, figuratively

Sweat equity

Super-rich Democratic congressman Scott Peters of La Jolla has gotten up close and personal for some dirty work with a wealthy Mission Valley hotel owner. The meet-up came at the newly opened Holiday Inn Express ...

TV ethics

Tardy disclosure filings

A star political analyst on KNSD, KUSI, and other spots around San Diego’s television news dial has been taken to task by the city’s ethics commission for being repeatedly late to disclose his lobbying activities. ...

Rancho Santa Fe’s devilish covenant with John Moores

Enclave for the super-rich embroiled in battle over McMansions and high-speed internet

As California prepares to vote in next week’s presidential primary, one of America's richest residential enclaves is embroiled in a big-money political fight that some fear may finally mark the death of its genteel, semi-rural ...

Del Martian files suit against U-T owner, now called Tronc

Real estate operation seeks to block stock sale to biotech billionaire Soon-Shiong

Though it ultimately takes its orders from Chicago, the fate of the struggling Union-Tribune is being increasingly linked to big-money battles involving San Diego connections. Last week, Los Angeles biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has ...

Dine in ambiance and luxury

And raise some money for the Democrats

Two members of San Diego’s Democratic congressional delegation have been picking up some big-money love from a controversial Washington DC lobbyist tied to the real estate development business. First it was La Jolla’s Scott Peters, ...

Johnny Brown’s out

The city intends to class up the joint

Downtown Johnny Brown’s, whose location across the San Diego Concourse from City Hall made it a dingy watering hole for San Diego city hall politicos, folded earlier this year. Now the site is up for ...

Union-Tribune hearts Faulconer

Gala comes three days before the June 7 primary

Whether by coincidence or not, a lavish high-society fundraising bash for the USO has been turned into a well-timed campaign tribute to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, thanks to his longtime patron, Republican kingpin Doug ...

Can Lincoln Club destroy Chargers' ballot hopes?

Sheriff Gore and D.A. Dumanis provide cash boost to anti-stadium Republican big-wigs

Stockton born-and-bred Dean Spanos will likely spend well north of $10 million to get his $1.8 billion taxpayer-subsidized Chargers stadium and meeting complex on the ballot in November, ordinarily making him the prohibitive favorite to ...

County’s smartphones at risk for break-ins, audit finds

Raft of unused devices run up steep monthly tab for taxpayers

"The noblest motive is the public good," is San Diego County's motto, but when it comes to keeping track of the county's smartphones, it might better be replaced by “watch your back," a newly released ...

Coronado’s Clintonian legacy

Bill is doing the heavy lifting here

Hillary Clinton has been conspicuously absent from San Diego’s hustings during the weeks leading up to the California primary. Instead, her husband, former president Bill Clinton, is doing the heavy lifting here. His latest trip ...

Lobbying loyalties

Corps of them haunt city hall

The corps of lobbyists haunting San Diego’s city hall didn’t pull down quite as much money in 2015 as they did the year before. An accounting by the city’s ethics commission reveals that registered influence-peddlers ...

Will latest U-T deal replace reporters with robots?

Artificial intelligence and "machine vision" tied to Tribune's Soon-Shiong deal

More twisting in the wind seems ahead for the besieged staff of the Union-Tribune as yet another Los Angeles billionaire joins the cast of characters on the big-money merry-go-round otherwise known as Chicago's Tribune Publishing. ...

Another day, another $750,000 for Chargers' stadium cause

NFL team's spending could top all records for special-interest ballot campaigns

How much will Chargers owner Dean Spanos end up spending to place on the ballot his proposed $1.8 billion stadium, subsidized by a tax hike on San Diego hotel rooms? Likely a number to blow ...

Friends of Eli make broad pitch to change paper owners

L.A. hedge fund pushes for Union-Tribune chain sale to Gannett

It wasn't very long ago that Fox News media mogul Rupert Murdoch was predicting that the L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune would soon be in the hands of fellow billionaire Eli Broad. But Murdoch's ...

Toni and Todd’s whale grease

Seeing SeaWorld for free

SeaWorld, besieged by animal-rights proponents who have forced a radical change in course for San Diego’s venerable whale emporium, remains popular as a free ticket destination for California lawmakers and staffers. As controversy over captive ...

Suite spots

Lots of cutting-edge activity for the 2016 San Diego elections

The GOP Lincoln Club, backing Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer’s reelection bid this June, has spent $278,672 for the cause, through April 23, according to an April 27 disclosure report. Expenses include “slate mail” worth $257,147 ...

Could Chargers fan boycott cripple hotel magnates?

War of the super-rich looms in downtown stadium versus hotel subsidies

"More than a stadium" is a rallying cry of the multimillion-dollar campaign to get a proposed $1.8 billion combined Chargers and convention venue on the ballot for November. Now, note observers of San Diego's peculiar ...

FBI miscreants are their own favorite charity

Credit card miles and cash pile up for bureau’s “recreational association” officers

The location is being withheld to protect the guilty, and staffers’ names are similarly excised, but a recent audit of a certain Federal Bureau of Investigation Recreation Association pulls few other punches. Though not generally ...

Big Oil money in for Faulconer

World fracking capital’s mayor wields carbon cash clout in San Diego

With locals debating whether San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer's much-ballyhooed pre-election climate protection plan has any teeth, big carbon, in the form of the American Petroleum Institute of Washington DC, is letting its cash do ...

Big Tobacco locked and loaded for Faulconer

Cash from mother of all special interests could influence mayor's race

While locals argue about whether or not Kevin Faulconer is really a new-era Republican, big money from the nation's tobacco lobby and other well-heeled corporate interests appears ready to roll into the mayor's already cash-packed ...

Death times

Go to work or go free?

Yet another try to hurry up executions on California’s death row has drawn $12,500 from the San Diego Police Officers Association’s political action committee. In addition to hastening their demise, the measure would put death-row ...

Wells Fargo turkeys

Currying mayoral favor

A political contribution is a terrible thing to waste, judging from a recent disclosure by Kevin Faulconer revealing that giant Wells Fargo bank has deposited $5000 in the Republican mayor’s name with the United Negro ...

Working both ends

Ballot measures square off

The business of ballot measures is booming in San Diego, though some big-money donors are still waiting for their payoffs in more ways than one. A controversial measure authored by attorney Cory Briggs to raise ...

Can San Diego’s big GOP money beat the NFL?

Mission Valley special interests regroup for well-financed frontal attack

Gauntlets are being hurled, but who is footing the bill of the throwers? The question is being asked by those tracking the byzantine political money war over a new tax-funded downtown luxury venue for the ...

Reported San Diego Zika cases hit 11

City ranks second to L.A. in California’s weekly tally of traveler-borne virus

UCSD is hot off the presses with research about how the Zika virus causes babies to be born with small heads. "While promising, this research has been conducted only in human and mouse cells growing ...

Pre-nursing home billionaires ante up for UCSD naming rights

Geriatric emergency-room sponsorship yields major cash for university fundraisers

While rollout of a billion-dollar-plus fundraising campaign remains in limbo following the abrupt departure of UCSD vice chancellor of advancement Steve Gamer following a six-figure settlement, the school has been employing its public relations arm ...

Valley soccer fever

SDSU expansion depends on pro sports

Who will actually determine the fate of a much-talked-about plan to expand San Diego State University onto the Mission Valley land currently occupied by Qualcomm Stadium? Judging from last month’s minutes of the school’s Campanile ...

Leisure class Issa

Staffer stops included a private tour of UK parliament

A staffer for North County Republican congressman Darrell Issa has again ventured away from Washington and “met with European leaders in London and Brussels concerning policy issues affecting commerce and innovation in the U.S,” according ...

Mr. Deputy’s wild ride

Buckle up. Or use a van.

A prisoner hurt in a crash involving a speeding sheriff’s vehicle has filed a complaint with the county’s Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board alleging that two deputies failed to fasten his seatbelt before taking off ...

Union-Tribune owner’s war of escalating insults

Yet another spin-off rumored if Gannett prevails

If today's economically besieged newspapers are cutting back their press runs, the same can't be said of the voluminous verbiage piling up in the war for control of Chicago-based Tribune publishing, owner of the San ...

Chargers' political tab already approaching $900,000

Eight-figure campaign for lucrative public subsidy includes fundraising House members

Let the big-spending political game begin. So says Dean Spanos and his wealthy extended family from Stockton, as related by the first financial filing with the city clerk's office of a campaign committee calling itself ...

Strictly Strickland

Come up with $2000 or “raise $8000”

Wealthy Democratic money bundler Christine Forester of La Jolla is throwing a May 4 fundraiser for Ted Strickland, an ex–Ohio governor running for U.S. Senate this year. To be a cohost of the party, donors ...

Sand quality study

Sixteen sampling events proposed

Those controversial La Jolla seals can look forward to more disturbances. “The City of San Diego plans to conduct a sand quality study at the Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla,” says an April 4 ...

Greenhouse politics

Mega-million-dollar super PAC in action

San Francisco hedge-fund mogul Tom Steyer, said to be considering a run for California governor two years hence, is investing some of his big money in a new effort to register voters in San Diego ...

Gannett wants a crack at the Union-Tribune

As Chargers hype mounts, will NFL-linked publisher from Chicago go quietly?

Will the sixth turnover finally turn out to be a charm? That's the question of the hour as yet another would-be master of the San Diego Union-Tribune surfaces in the form of Gannett Co., owner ...

Sheriff Bill Gore's Disinformation 101

Online espionage showcases "techniques on how to legally access some private content"

With San Diego cops anteing up $18,000 for a so-called open-source intelligence tool to tap into the whereabouts and activities of social-media users, can county sheriff Bill Gore be far behind in local law enforcement's ...

The Jacobs-Faulconer dance

Qualcomm execs donate to the mayor's reelection campaign

When Republican Kevin Faulconer first ran for mayor in the fall of 2013, Qualcomm then-CEO Paul Jacobs, the son of company founder and Hillary Clinton-backer Irwin Jacobs, backed Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher for the job. After ...

Gamer’s costly rise and fall

UCSD was in as much of a hurry to get rid of Steve Gamer as it had been to hire him

In January 2014, University of California regents thought they had a hustler in Steve Gamer, so much so that they hastily agreed to pay him the princely annual salary of $455,792 to become UCSD’s new ...

Junketing for Hillary

High-dollar lobbyist hosts 2016 strategy talks in Virginia

Judging by the fierce electoral contests currently being waged around the country, the nebulous political “center" isn't the most popular place to be. But that's where Michelle Dorothy, chief of staff to La Jolla House ...

San Diego cops a deal for online espionage

$18K contract yields "Raw intelligence...captured from social media"

San Diego cops aren't just checking their Twitter feeds anymore, they are now tapping into a vast font of personal information generated by online social network users, with the public none the wiser. That's the ...

Food without the TSA hassle

Eating and drinking on the Pacific Highway

Those who crave the taste of airport food without the bother of navigating Transportation Security Administration checkpoints may soon have a new option, according to a request for qualifications issued March 24 by the San ...

Money for helmets, not for books

Say goodbye to Lexis-Nexis

Money for college sports at tax-funded San Diego State University has been growing at a rapid clip. Not so, the school’s library funding, according to a dire State of the Library report presented April 5 ...

Is not paying taxes tantamount to terror?

San Diego sheriff seeks to ramp up battle against Sovereign Citizens

Mysterious FBI and Homeland Security aircraft are already buzzing San Diego County, trolling for "terrorists, spies, and serious criminals,” according to FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano. Now comes Sheriff Bill Gore, a former FBI Special ...

Peters fundraiser sponsors have checkered past

Bevy of big-time real-estate special interests to chow down at DC lunch

When political action committees for the real-estate business team up with resort developers, a lucrative fundraiser may be bound to ensue. But next week's event for congressman Scott Peters at the Congressional Mews condo complex ...

Physical therapy business has become a thorny issue

Therapeutic conflict

The Republican mayor of Encinitas, currently challenging incumbent Democratic county supervisor Dave Roberts, runs a physical therapy business on the side. What to do when a lawyer for DCM Properties, a real estate developer suing ...

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