Eva Knott 4:04 a.m., May 23
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Liquor Store Group Run by Outspoken Chaldean Leader Mails Hit Pieces Against Filner
The Neighborhood Market Association, a La Mesa-based trade group of liquor stores and markets run by Mark Arabo, an outspoken Chaldean Christian leader, has mailed at least two separate hit pieces against Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, a candidate for mayor of San Diego.
One of the market association's direct mail pieces against Filner, featuring two unflattering photos of the Democrat, calls the congressman a "bully" and refers to media coverage of an "obscentity-laden" outburst the mail piece says he had.
Another mailer (pictured above), containing a side shot Filner's face and a grainy photo of the congressman in front of the Capitol, calls him "out of touch" and suggests he did favors for campaign contributors.
The two pieces, paid for by a committee called California for Small Business,"sponsored by the Neighborhood Market Association," according to the mailers, are silent about which candidate San Diego voters should choose for mayor.
Arabo is listed as the manager of California for Small Business, according to an April 29, 2010 disclosure on file with the state Secretary of State's office.
Last October Arabo, president and CEO of the market association, met with President Barack Obama to protest "ethnic cleansing" he alleged was occurring in Iraq against Chaldeans, according to a Union-Tribune account.
Although Arabo has been a player in the political struggle over the ethnic fate of post-war Iraq, political observers speculate that the mail pieces against Filner, who backs the cause of a controversial Iranian group in Iraq, are motivated more by the market association's heavy involvement in Sacramento politics.
As we reported last week, the Neighborhood Market Association has contributed $5,000 to San Diegans for Nathan Fletcher -- Mayor 2012.
Fletcher is a member of the state assembly who renounced his Republican party membership earlier in the mayoral campaign.
A lobbying disclosure report posted online by the California Secretary of State's office shows that during the first three months of this year the Neighborhood Market Association paid $9,139.70 to the Dolphin Group, a contract lobbyist in Sacramento.
In all, Arabo's association has spent a total of $45,597 through the current legislative reporting period to lobby 17 Assembly bills and six Senate bills.
As noted previously, in 2010 the market association and two of its campaign commitees paid a total of $14,000 in fines for failing to properly reveal their identities in mailers they put out attacking a San Diego booze ban that was eventually made permanent by San Diego voters in November 2008.
We put a call in to Arabo this morning regarding his group's support of Fletcher and its hit pieces against Filner and will update when he gets back to us.
Update: Mark Arabo called us this afternoon to say that his board voted to back Nathan Fletcher after interviewing the major mayoral candidates last year.
Regarding the association's opposition to Bob Filner, Arabo said the congressman was "bad for small business."
Arabo cited what he said was Filner's statement to the board that "he wouldn't ban Wal-Mart," which competes with the area's small markets, liquor stores, and gas stations.
Arabo added that Filner had expressed opposition to the current plan of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to expand the downtown convention center, a proposal favored by the association.
He said the association's direct mail pieces attacking Filner represented "nothing personal against him."
Arabo noted that earlier this year the group purchased a building in San Diego's Mission Valley near the Nordstrom department store and has opened new offices, to which it has recently moved from La Mesa.