Jimi Olsen 11:30 a.m., Jan. 17
Big three hotel moguls girding for Filner war?
Triumvirate gives $5000 a pop to lodging political action committee that insiders say could be used for recall or other forms of political engagement with mayor
Though most of the financial action took place before the current troubles of Bob Filner kicked into high gear, a look at recently filed campaign statements of his foes versus his own money raising prowess shows the uphill money battle that the Democratic mayor could face against his wealthy Republican enemies in the local hotel business.
As almost everybody knows by now, Filner - who earlier this year took on the city's top three hotel moguls in a struggle over a lucrative city contract they thought they'd gotten from previous GOP mayor and hotel money beneficiary Jerry Sanders - has been accused of sexual harassment in a suit filed by his ex-press aide, former UT San Diego reporter and port public affairs person Irene McCormack Jackson, and is battling for his political life.
Even before he was hit with the current charges, brought on behalf of McCormack Jackson by Los Angeles sexual harassment super lawyer Gloria Allred, rumbles abounded that Filner would likely face a recall largely paid for by the city's well-entrenched hotel interests, some of which go back to the 1950s and before, and enjoy lucrative city and port leases.
According to a financial disclosure statement posted online yesterday by the city clerk, the San Diego Lodging Association PAC, whose treasurer is GOP Lincoln Club board member April Boling, raised $18,940 during the first six months of the year. The fund spent $13,864, leaving it with $5,535 in the bank.
The bulk of the money, $10,000, was spent on a group calling itself San Diego County Voters for Progress and Reform, which in turn backed 4th District city council candidate Dwayne Crenshaw against fellow Democrat Myrtle Cole in a special election this spring. Union-backed Cole, a Filner ally, won that race.
The PAC also kicked in $3500 for the Lincoln Club, a bastion of the local Republican establishment that largely eschews traditional conservative values in favor of big business lobbying. Most of the city's top lobbyists belong. The club recently blasted Filner for his alleged sexual harassment in a news release.
Though the lodging association PAC’s bankroll isn't big now, the three men behind this year's money have deep pockets and can quickly raise plenty more.
Hotel kingpin C. Terry Brown - owner of the Mission Valley Atlas Hotel empire and leader of the anti-Filner forces, who is a corporate neighbor and close friend of UT San Diego owner Douglas Manchester - came up with $5,000.
Their close ally Bill Evans, who runs Evans Hotels, two of which occupy city leaseholds, kicked in the same.
Bartell Hotels, the big family chain run by Richard Bartell, the third member of the triumvirate, also gave $5,000.
Hilton - La Jolla Torrey Pines contributed $3940.
For its part, San Diegans in Support of Bob Filner for Mayor - 2012, an independent expenditure committee, raised nothing during the first half of the year but had $11,301 in the bank.
As previously noted, earlier this year Filner set up another fund, called the Mayor Bob Filner for San Diego Committee, which has raised cash from the companies of an NFL owner with major real estate interests here.
Stuart Posnock, the CEO of Garden Communities, channeled $10,000 to the new Filner committee through separate $1000 contributions made on May 3 by various associated business entities, including La Jolla Crossroads, Costa Verde East Village, and Scripps Mesa Developers.
Another filing Posnock made last year, discloses that he had previously backed Filner's GOP foe Carl DeMaio with a $500 contribution in June 2011 and $5000 to DeMaio's controversial pension reform efforts in August of that year.
As previously reported here, Garden Communities has employed the downtown law and lobbying firm of Sheppard Mullin to advocate its projects at city hall.
Garden Communities also paid downtown lobbyist Paul Robinson's law and lobbying firm of Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley $1,000 during the first quarter of this year for advocacy work it did regarding "changing entitled use at 9085 Judicial Drive," according to a disclosure filing posted online by the city clerk's office.
Garden is one of many corporations under the umbrella of billionaire Zygi Wilf, owner with his family of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, who orchestrated a new taxpayer funded stadium after various threats to move the team.
Whether Filner can raise fresh cash in the midst of his current struggles remains to be seen. The deadline for the filing of political reports covering the first half of this year, including those of Filner's committee, comes at the end of this month.
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