Dave Rice 12:35 p.m., May 23
The San Diego County Prosperity Institute raises $316,000 for slate mailers targeting Bob Filner
In a little over a week, residents of San Diego will no longer have to sift through political slate mailers to retrieve a bill or letter. But until then avoiding that task will be virtually impossible.
Slate mailers have become an increasingly common tool for cash-strapped candidates who find it cheaper to put their ads in a slate mailer along with other candidates and campaigns than buying their own. In most cases the mailer is controlled by a private business or a political group who then sells space on the mailers for a profit.
For San Diego County Prosperity Institute Non-Partisan Voter Guide, making money does not appear to be the driving force behind their mail campaign. And contrary to the name, the Prosperity Institute's non-partisan voter guide mailer is anything but non-partisan.
An internet search shows that the registered agent for the San Diego Prosperity Institute is TJ Zane, who also serves as the president and chair of the Lincoln Club of San Diego County.
And much like the Lincoln Club, Zane's Prosperity Institute has been very prosperous during this election cycle.
According to the latest filing with the City Clerk's office, the San Diego County Prosperity Institute's non-partisan voter guide has collected a total of $316,653 since January 1, 2012 from donors including Zane's own Lincoln Club, the Republican Party of San Diego County, the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce, Building Industry Association PAC, and Carl DeMaio's campaign.
According to the website for the San Diego County Prosperity Institute, the organization"exists to promote the gathering of reliable and accurate information about the impact of current and proposed public policies on the economy and general prosperity at the local, state, and national level, and to educate San Diego County on matters affecting the region"
In their latest mailer, the Prosperity Institute appears to show the primary goal of the mailer; elect Carl DeMaio. They are doing so by running attack ads against DeMaio's opponent Bob Filner.
Measuring approximately 15 inches by 8 inches, the majority of space on the mailers are filled with two large ads accusing Filner of assaulting a "35-year-old mother of two."
In the most recent mailer, one-side is filled with a picture of Filner sitting at a desk. Next to Filner's picture is the quote, "I'm a congressman and can do whatever I want."
At the bottom of the mailer appears a black strip with white lettering that reads, "Charged with assault and battery on a 35-year old mother of two."
On the opposite side of the mailer is another negative ad against Filner. The ad shows the back of a man clenching his fist at a young woman who has her hand outstretched in defiance. The ad was paid for by DeMaio's campaign.
At the bottom of the mailers are three smaller ads, two of which are in favor of Propositions 35 and 40, while the other is in opposition to Proposition 36.
The $316,653 raised by the Prosperity Institute came from a variety of sources. The largest donor, however, was the San Diego County Republican Party.
According to a statement filed on October 26, the Republican Party gave $72,000 for ads in opposition to Proposition 36; $46,956 in support of Proposition 35, and $72,000 in support of Proposition 40, for a total of $190,956.
In comparison, DeMaio's campaign spent a total of $21,197 for ads that were more than 95 percent larger than the three proposition ads combined.
The Prosperity Institute was also responsible for slate mailers sent out prior to the Primary election.
One disclosure dated May 21 of this year shows that the Lincoln Club contributed a total of $14,000 for ads in support of Propositions A and B -- the Fair and Open Competition and pension initiative respectively. Other donors include the San Diego Chamber of Commerce --$10,000, San Diego Restaurant and Beverage PAC -- $5,000, Building Industry Association of San Diego County PAC -- $10,000. The contributions have gone to buy ads for candidates including Mark Powell, for school board, and Steve Danon, for county supervisor.
Zane did not return a request for comment.