Ken Harrison 11:30 a.m., Dec. 26
Vargas Campaign Paid South Lake Tahoe Bistro, Hotel Tabs
State Sen. Juan Vargas, in the midst of a campaign to replace fellow Democrat Bob Filner in Congress, still has two years to go on his present term, so even if he loses the House race he will be able to return to Sacramento and seek re-election.
According to the year-end filing for his state campaign committee, Juan Vargas for Senate 2014, the former insurance company executive is already raising plenty of money for that eventuality.
The ex-Assemblyman has been spending much of the cash on his needs of the moment as well, the filing also reveals.
In 2011 the fund collected $177,052, $23,073 of it in the last six months of the year.
The committee spent $130,030, leaving a year-end cash balance of $48,740.
The roster of Vargas donors consists of many out-of-state corporate giants with stakes in the outcome of California's legislative and regulatory actions.
They include Exxon Mobil Corporation ($1500); Liberty Mutual Insurance ($1500); Nationwide Mutual Insurance ($1000); The Rubber Manufacturers Association ($1000); and Yum Brands, which runs and licenses various chain eateries, including Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet ($1000).
The 2014 campaign account was tapped by Vargas to attend a $1000 Border Angels dinner in San Diego in November; sponsor a $1000 table at a Casa Familiar dinner in August; and provide $250 for an October event for San Diego's Center on Policy Initiatives.
The fund contributed $100 to the San Diego Democratic Club in October, gave $2500 to the Chicano Federation, and on December 31 gave $500 to the 2012 Santa Clara county supervisorial campaign of Joseph Simitian, one of Vargas's Democratic senate colleagues who is termed out this year.
The candidate also used the money to do some traveling.
The campaign committee picked up a tab for $672 at South Lake Tahoe's Blue Water Bistro on July 12 for a "Legislative Meeting" that included Vargas.
The filing listed Michael Mattoch of Sacramento as the "agent or independent contractor" who made that expenditure on behalf of the Vargas committee.
(Though not identified as such by the disclosure filing, the most prominent Michael Mattoch in Sacramento is the one-time aide to ex-GOP Gov Pete Wilson and former chief counsel to the Assembly insurance committee, which Vargas once chaired. Mattoch is now legislative counsel for the Western Region of Texas-based United Services Automobile Association (USAA).)
The committee also paid $364 to Expedia; the purpose was listed as a July 12 hotel stay by Vargas to "attend campaign meetings."
Blue Water Bistro was paid an additional $328 for an August 17 "campaign meeting" attended by Vargas.
Expedia received $203 for "Hotel to attend campaign meeting" on that date.
Sacramento's Tequila Museo, a restaurant and tequila bar near the state capitol, was paid $186 for an October staff meeting, not including the candidate.
As reported earlier this week, Vargas has also been raising money for his separate 2010 state senate campaign account, which at the end of 2011 had oustanding debts of $375,784.66.