Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
Emails show top DeMaio operative key to Filner recall
Legality of shadowy DeMaio fund and Republican chief Tony Krvaric's recall role the topic of emails between city ethics chief and Lincoln Club treasurer
During last month's Bob Filner recall run-up, spokesperson Rachel Laing was quoted by Republican Doug Manchester's U-T San Diego as saying the effort was non-partisan.
Nobody's doing it from a partisan perspective. 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.
But a series of emails released last week by San Diego's city ethics commission following a request made under the California public records act, have opened a window into a far different version of the story.
The email correspondence, between ethics commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst and April Boling - an accountant with close political ties to ex-councilman Carl DeMaio and the county Republican Party - shows Boling to have been closely involved with both the recall effort as well as a poll to determine DeMaio's chances in a future campaign to replace now resigned Democrat Filner.
As previously reported here, Boling is on the boards of the GOP's Lincoln Club, a well-heeled group of lobbyists and business interests, and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the downtown lobbying group closely tied to C. Terry Brown, the owner of Atlas Hotels, who led a failed legal battle to force Filner to sign off on a lucrative hotel industry funding deal negotiated by previous GOP mayor Jerry Sanders.
The emails show that Boling checked in with Fulhorst on Saturday July 27, posing a series of questions regarding funding disclosure options for the recall, which had been announced by real estate development consultant and Republican ex-council candidate Mike Pallamary at a July 19 city hall rally.
In addition to Pallamary’s effort, the email shows, Boling and fellow Republicans were anticipating widening the war using other front groups:
Let's say Pallamary forms Committee to Recall Bob Filner (I'll call this one "No Bob"). That committee raises money and prints petitions. It also pays professional signature gatherers, verifies signatures, etc. All the normal recall stuff.
Then let's say a second group forms. This group is headed by a young woman (let's call her Heather) from UCSD. She wants to mobilize young women on campuses around the City to work on the recall.
She wants to run her own show and wants her committee to be called Women for the Recall of Bob Filner (I'll call this one "Women"). She believes she has feminist-type funding sources that will give to this committee.
She will have her own website, her own banners, etc. The women she recruits will be getting petitions from No Bob, circulating them and then turning those petitions back over to No Bob for verification. No Bob will ultimately submit those petitions.
She is forming a committee because there will be some costs associated with her efforts. They will probably need to spend money on food, maybe cell phones, banners, on-campus advertising, maybe Facebook recruitment ads.
Definitely more than $1K.
Boling also wanted to explore the question of how and whether the second committee’s finances would have to be disclosed to the public:
It is not yet clear whether she will pay anyone or if they will all be volunteers. My guess is that there will be some paid people — maybe the coordinators.
What do we have here? I believe there will be no actual flow of money between the two committees, but Women will be getting No Bob's petitions signed. Is that an in-kind contribution of some sort?
Not clear if Heather will be serving on the steering committee of No Bob.
Does that matter? If she does, then do you believe one of the committees is the sponsor of the other? If so, which sponsors which?
Two days later, on July 29, Boling was back with another recall-related scenario:
I can see the Republican Party hosting a "Dump Filner" rally at Party HQ where people would come to pick up petitions.
There would probably be refreshments. The Party might also provide the volunteers printed walk sheets of their neighborhood and there may be some paid people involved with training, transportation of petitions, etc.
In other words, there would be funds expended by the Party to get signatures on the forms. The blank petitions would be provided by No Bob and the completed petitions would be returned to No Bob for verification.
On July 31, Boling emailed Fulhorst again, repeating her previous questions and adding a few new ones regarding Carl DeMaio, a political committee controlled by him called Reform San Diego, and the legality of San Diego Republican party chairman Tony Krvaric calling some of the shots in the recall battle against the mayor:
1) If the Reform San Diego poll identifies qualifications of many potential candidates in a potential runoff, does Reform San Diego have to report each (except for Carl) as an [Independent Expenditure]?
2) If Heather sits on the steering committee of No Bob, do you believe that means that Women is a sponsor of No Bob? Or is No Bob a sponsor of Women' ?
3) Same questions re the Republican Party if Tony sits on the No Bob steering committee
Boling's scenarios about not disclosing the ultimate source of cash and staffers behind the recall efforts drew a general seal of approval from Fulhorst, who wrote in a July 30 email to the Republican treasurer:
If two committees primarily formed to support the recall of Filner coordinate their efforts, they are not required to report making/receiving in-kind contributions to one another.
As applied to your first scenario, this means that No Bob may give copies of the petition to Heather's committee, which in turn may collect signatures (with volunteers or paid signature gatherers) and deliver the signed petitions to No Bob, and neither committee will be required to report receiving/making in-kind contributions to the other.
As applied to your second scenario, the Republican Party could obtain copies of petitions from No Bob, could host a rally and distribute the petitions to volunteers, and could then return the signed petitions to No Bob, and neither the Party nor No Bob would be required to report receiving/making in-kind contributions to the other.
In a July 30 email, Fulhorst offered her opinion regarding whether DeMaio could use his Reform San Diego committee for mayoral polling:
Reform San Diego may pay for a purely exploratory poll.
In the event that Carl became a candidate in the recall, his mayoral committee would have to reimburse Reform San Diego for all the costs associated with the poll. (Because Carl is the principal of Reform San Diego, he clearly has access to the polling data.) Reform San Diego may not pay for a poll that contains any type of advocacy, including listing Carl's qualifications for office.
Such expenditures would essentially constitute an unlawful in-kind contribution from a committee/organization to a City candidate.
Fulhorst, her staff and ethics commissioners discussed additional matters regarding the recall, DeMaio, Boling, and perhaps other players, but that information is being withheld from public disclosure.
In her August 21 response to our request for disclosure of all recall-related documents, she wrote: "We have withheld documents that contain communications between the Commission (including Commission staff) and its legal counsel, pursuant to California Government Code section 6254(k), which exempts ‘records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.’”
More like this:
- DeMaio gets campaign fund payback — July 10, 2014
- Papa Doug hasn't forgotten Carl D. — Oct. 10, 2013
- Carl DeMaio paid for polling in possible mayoral run — Sept. 10, 2013
- San Diegans could be last to know who's paying for Filner recall — Aug. 16, 2013
- Transparency lags as GOP fundraisers fan out for anti-Filner drive — Aug. 8, 2013