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Two high-profile voter signature drives in California, one aimed at putting the issue of a new basketball arena on the ballot in Sacramento, the other to recall embattled San Diego Democratic mayor Bob Filner, are casting new light on the often secretive funding of such efforts and their big money special interest backers.

In Sacramento's case, an Orange County political committee calling itself Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods has reportedly used signature gatherers to circulate a petition to put the proposed new Kings arena on the ballot.

But after questions arose as to who is funding the committee, James Lacy, a spokesman for the group told the Sacramento Bee that it had not financed the effort.

"We have not spent any money on this election," Lacy said.

His comments appeared to deepen the mystery of how the petition drive is being funded. In May, Lacy's group announced it was teaming with the Sacramento organization, STOP, on the petition drive. The goal: Forcing a public vote on the $258 million city subsidy for the new Kings arena.

The Orange County group said in May that the campaign would have "the financial and political resources necessary."

This morning the Bee reports that a counter coalition of building contractors and "Kings fans" seeking to build the new arena without a public vote has filed a complaint with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, "saying the campaign challenging the arena project paid signature gatherers in June but didn't report the expenses in its latest campaign finance disclosures."

Meanwhile, down in San Diego, those behind the effort to recall mayor Filner have reportedly retained the services of a high-dollar team of political professionals, including Rachel Laing, erstwhile media handler for GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders and former P.R. staffer for Tom Shepard's Public Policy Strategies, who left her job there a few weeks back in the wake of continuing sexual harassment allegations against Filner.

Until recently, the mayor was one of Shepard's biggest political clients. Shepard also said he was severing his ties to Filner.

"Nobody's doing it from a partisan perspective," U-T San Diego quoted Laing as saying about the Filner recall campaign. "Everybody's desire to give voters a choice on this stems from allegations that the mayor is a sexual predator, and that's not a partisan issue."

U-T reported that the Filner recall effort has also retained the services of Republican campaign finance expert April Boling, a longtime GOP leader, treasurer of the Republican Lincoln Club, and executive board member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the downtown business lobbying group closely tied to C. Terry Brown, the wealthy Mission Valley Republican hotel magnate who lost out to Filner in a battle earlier this year over a lucrative city visitor promotion fund.

Rounding out the recall team, the paper reported, is former Sanders fundraiser Jean Freelove .

In May 2007, Freelove was quoted by then-U-T columnist Gerry Braun - later a Sanders aide himself - regarding a claim by Sanders that he couldn’t remember getting a hefty political contribution from Sunroad developer Aaron Feldman.

How could Sanders have completely forgotten dealing with Aaron Feldman, much less the $3,600?

With a little research, I discovered that Feldman had done his best to make a good impression on Sanders. He didn't just contribute money, he held a campaign fundraising lunch for him.

His friends and associates filled the panoramic banquet room at the Island Prime restaurant, which sits on property Sunroad leases on Harbor Island.

In front of a gorgeous view of San Diego Bay, Feldman introduced Sanders to the check-writing crowd that Feldman himself had assembled. He did everything right.

Sanders' fundraiser, Jean Freelove, told me it was entirely possible for Sanders to have forgotten all about it.

“It was very pleasant,” she said of the event. “About 30 people were there. It was a nice lunch, a nice introduction, the mayor went around and shook everyone's hand and said he was glad they were supporting him. I hate to say there was nothing distinctive about it, but there wasn't. You have to remember, he went to 110 events and had 5,500 donors.”

With that kind of fundraising firepower, the Filner recall drive appears to be well on the road to financial success.

But when will it have to reveal the names behind the mega-numbers?

Yesterday we emailed Stacey Fulhorst of the city's ethics commission to find out what the law says about when the citizenry can get hold of the information that will reveal who is who, and who knows who, in the struggle to replace Filner, perhaps with somebody more malleable to whatever special interests put up the most money

In Wall Street talk, it's called "Pay to play."

Even as the recall effort proceeds full speed ahead, it turns out, the matter of full public disclosure is still under consideration.

Responded Fulhorst:

We are currently conducting research on this issue. It's complicated because state law treats recalls as ballot measure elections, whereas the city treats them as candidate elections.

If you check back with me next week I should have an answer for you.

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Comments

BlueSouthPark Aug. 8, 2013 @ 11:41 a.m.

What a smack-ass team! Wouldn't want to be in the same room with any of them: Carly Fiorina/John Boehner loser-advisor Freelove, Sanders flack Laing, and ...Boling...her name is enough to make me flinch. Useless PR toadies, jumping on the next-new bandwagon. It's what PR flacks do, lacking a substantive education in anything real or worthwhile.

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KLoEditor Aug. 8, 2013 @ 3:09 p.m.

We are currently conducting research on this issue. It's complicated because state law treats recalls as ballot measure elections, whereas the city treats them as candidate elections. If you check back with me next week I should have an answer for you.

My reply to this is, Stop the recall effort until we get an answer. It is patently unethical to try and oust the mayor without the citizens of San Diego knowing who is paying to have him ousted.

Oh and by the way, Rachel Laing was the person who spearheaded Jacobs Folly, as I recall.

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monaghan Aug. 8, 2013 @ 3:50 p.m.

The people would like to know more asap and sincerely hope Ms. Fulhorst can conclude her research and find an authoritative affirmative opinion about delivering information to the public about who is bankrolling the recall of our first-ever liberal populist mayor.

In the meantime, I'd say Matt Potter has assembled a pretty revealing list of Filner recall worker-bees from the local GOP: the Republican Lincoln Club's perennial CPA April Boling, Jerry Sanders' former flack Rachel Laing, the Taxpayers Association, and Terry Brown, the big Mission Valley hotel owner. This identified group is aided and abetted, of course, by the media storm generated by U-T's Doug Manchester and Irwin Jacobs' KPBS and voiceofsandiego.org, not counting the (expensively and strategically-placed) stories in national media.

This is important, Ms. Fulhorst. We're waiting.

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historymatters Aug. 9, 2013 @ 12:36 a.m.

There is also a very interesting connection between the accusers and KPBS and the Port Authority that needs further investigation. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Gattas is particularly interesting with her close ties to KPBS and the Port Authority.

Dr. Joyce M. Gattas is the Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State University.

Interestingly, Gattas serves on the Balboa Park Conservancy (the same conservancy that voted for the pro-development Plaza de Panama Jacob's plan), as well as the KPBS Advisory Board; and the San Diego Port Authority Marketing and Public Relations Advisory Committee.

Her role at KPBS could suggest she was instrumental in funneling all the victims to KPBS and coaching them on what to say.

SDSU receives a lot of funding from billionaire Irwin Jacobs, thus the Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (the same college that handles KPBS) would certainly have a lot invested in making him happy.

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historymatters Aug. 9, 2013 @ 12:43 a.m.

How do we find out who is paying Allreds legal fees and hotel bills? That would be key. Do we have a right to know?

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historymatters Aug. 9, 2013 @ 12:47 a.m.

also interesting some of the victims connections to Jerry Sanders.

Patti Roscoe is a prominent businesswoman in San Diego's tourism and hospitality industry. She also has a very strong connection to SDSU and their hospitality and tourism management program.

On October 4, 2012 Roscoe is Chairing Mayor Jerry Sanders' Farewell party for the 33 Rotary Club.

Froman as you know from your investigation... became Jerry Sander's chief operating officer in 2005. She left the job in June, 2007, in the midst of the Sunroad scandal.

Froman was also senior vice president of General Atomics dating Republican mega-donor Linden Blue, Vice Chairman of General Atomics,.

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Sjtorres Aug. 11, 2013 @ 5:13 p.m.

This is about Filner's sexual assaults and harassments. Don't get caught up by the red herrings.

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