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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.’”

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Comments

FatCatSegat Aug. 26, 2013 @ 10:25 a.m.

Unethical behavior backed by loopholes in the law? Republicans exploiting these loopholes and spinning half truths, with the media's pavlovian reaction and response? Go figure. As Samuel L. Jackson said, "Wake the F%*& Up!" Really people.

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photog921 Aug. 26, 2013 @ 10:43 a.m.

Kudos to the people who developed the CA public records laws! Without them, where would be be? I hope they are never weakened, and instead strengthened.

This piece is so revealing. The coziness of the insiders. The strategies, to keep things as secret and as confusing as possible, are so clear here.

Also, all this is done at taxpayer expense! All this legal/campaign advice there just for the asking? No doubt, just for the insiders and the privileged few who make a career of separating us as far as possible from the "one person/one vote" principle of democracy.

Excellent revealing piece.

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Yankeedoodle Aug. 26, 2013 @ 11:05 a.m.

Matt: Excellent reporting. May the threads continue to unravel.

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Ensenadamaria Aug. 26, 2013 @ 11:32 a.m.

Fair non partison reporting - try as I may I find no mention of the allegation that DeMaio was seen with his favorite toy in the men's restroom in the UT.

The intent of my comment - weren't there also rumblings about Filner long before he became our mayor?

While I have no use for Hueso, I can not imagine him making the allegation unless it were true.

Surely this City deserves better than the offerings both parties are promoting!

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MeReader Aug. 26, 2013 @ 1:13 p.m.

well, so what.

does anyone really expect the democratic party and the unions to have been the key behind filner's recall?

it is really not surprising that there would be republicans who would be angling to get filner out, as well as planning for what comes after filner and to position themselves and their own people to take advantage of the situation. filner was a trainwreck waiting to happen. and so those people were happily watching the trainwreck and proceeded to move in. and being the republican party out of power, it's no surprise that they were watching filner very carefully and gleefully applauding filner's self-destruction as his missteps multiplied and as his personal awkward social nature resulted in sexually deviant behavior that became very publicly pronounced. geez, you really cannot blame any republicans to be scheming against filner and to use the situation against filner. because, really, you cannot make this stuff up. just watch the trainwreck as it occurs and take advantage of it.

unless if you were a filner supporter/sympathizer, then any conspiracy-like connections are things to reach for when trying to assign blame to anyone except for filner himself. filner was a rough-and-tough conniving spectacle that was bright with the various good things he claims responsiblity for in the past, but now in the twilight of his political career, he became blindingly bright for the wrong reasons as seen in his uncontrollable political self-immolation. (sorry, but IMHO the one thing that seems to explain filner being so absolutely stupid with being so open in doing the sexy-harassy thing with female employees and constituents is that he's old and something must be affecting him in his head where he no longer has the self-control that normal people have. )

what one should really hope for, and this is for the democrats out there, is that there are smart democrats out there who were also simultaneously planning for what comes next long before any of this filner nonsense happened -- and are not now playing catch up to what any possible republican conspiracy-like connections may have been planning all along. filner became a nightmare for the democratic party and the unions. and as a nightmare, it is not surprising that the party and the union may have initially been in denial about the situation, when they hoped their past typical excuse that bob-is-just-being-bob would make the situation go away. but it became too late as the republicans have taken advantage of the situation and now the democrats have pull themselves together out of this shock to try to retain (well, regain again) the mayoral office.

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KLoEditor Aug. 26, 2013 @ 1:56 p.m.

We are all agreed that every time Rachel Laing opens her mouth, a big fat lie will come out.

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andrews563 Aug. 27, 2013 @ 4:29 p.m.

Hardly a shocking revelation; an accountant asking questions about bookkeeping for campaign activities. What was left unsaid was that none of the outraged lefties who SAID they wanted Filner out were doing anything other than PR.

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