Chad Deal 8:22 p.m., May 20
Corporations Pour Last Minute Money into Downtown Interests' PAC Backing Steve Danon
California redevelopment may be a thing of the past, but San Diego's downtown redevelopment lobbying group is still in business.
According to disclosure filings posted online by the San Diego county Registrar of Voters, the Downtown San Diego Partnership's "San Diego Jobs Political Action Committee" has been raising plenty of last minute campaign cash, thanks to a well-heeled roster of special interests from around the nation.
Donors have included cable TV giant Cox Communications of Atlanta, Georgia, with $8,000 on April 20; Herzog Contracting Corp. of Saint Joseph, Missouri, $5,000 on April 18; Rural/Metro Corporation, the controversial paramedic outfit out of Scottsdale, Arizona, $5,000 on April 28; and AT&T California Employee Political Action Committee of San Francisco, $2500 on March 29.
The single largest contribution during the period from the first of this year through May 19 was $22,000, made by the casino-owning Sycuan band of the Kumeyaay Nation.
The downtown interest group spent $18,426 for opposition research and campaign literature on behalf of Republican Steve Danon, currently an aide to GOP congressman Brian Bilbray, himself facing a tough race to hold on to his seat.
Danon, who previously lost a city council race to former San Diego city councilwoman Donna Frye, is now running for the seat held by departing Third District San Diego county supervisor Pam Slater.
The district covers a large swath of North County and parts of the city of San Diego, but does not include downtown.
As we reported in December 2005, Danon's campaign accepted $2500 from Brent Wilkes and his associates during the Frye city council race; at the time Wilkes was a Poway defense contractor with close ties to the local Republican party and Danon's boss during the period, county supervisor Ron Roberts.
In November 2007, Wilkes was convicted for his role in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham congressional bribery scandal and sentenced to federal prison for twelve years.
Wilkes did eleven months in custody before his release on bond pending the outcome of an appeal, which he is still pursuing.
Besides backing Danon, the downtown partnership spent $29,000 on behalf of the so-called pension reform measure Prop B on tomorrow's San Diego ballot, according to its disclosure.
As we reported in April, the partnership--whose executive board includes lobbyists Paul Robinson; Craig Benedetto; and Robin Munro Madaffer; as well as San Diego Gas & Electric's Frank Urtasun--has been sanctioned by the city's ethics commission for failing to timely file its legally required lobbying disclosure statement despite repeated reminders from the city clerk's office.
An ethics investigation found that the group’s public policy vice president Janelle Riella “had 31 contacts with City Officials during the third quarter of 2011 for the purpose of influencing decisions concerning the redevelopment and construction of a new Civic Center, and the restructuring of redevelopment in San Diego."
After promising to improve its future compliance, the partnership received a $500 fine.
This morning we left a message for the group's president and CEO Kris Michell, former aide to lame duck mayor Jerry Sanders, and will update here when she gets back to us.