Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Late filings reveal formidable fundraising clout of San Diego sheriff
Aide says lawman's office didn't know of law and learned of possible penalties from news reports of $37,500 fine levied against Sacramento mayor
In an apparent case of better late than never, a top aide to San Diego county Sheriff Bill Gore says two so-called behesting disclosure statements were filed months late by the sheriff because his office wasn't aware of the California law requiring the financial filings.
Marla Marshall, the sheriff's special assistant for legislative affairs, said she first learned of the reporting requirement by reading December newspaper accounts of the case of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who was fined $37,500 by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to report millions of dollars he had solicited from private donors for the benefit of various pet causes, including his basketball arena task force.
"It's a very little known rule," Marshall said in a telephone interview today. "I asked the question, should we be doing this?"
As a result of her inquiries, Marshall said, members of the California State Sheriff's Association were briefed on the law by FPPC Chair Ann Ravel. That led to Gore’s recent disclosure statements, dated February 19 and 21, posted online by the county Registrar of Voters this past Monday, March 4.
According to the first document, Gore raised a total of $45,000 in corporate and tribal donations for the California State Sheriffs' Association’s annual conference, held in San Diego in early April of last year.
Gore was co-host of the event and co-signed a letter to a group of regular corporate donors to the association seeking funds for the event, Marshall said. In addition, she said, the sheriff sent a separate solicitation to potential local donors, including the Sycuan and Barona tribes.
Sycuan came up with $16,000, Barona gave $5,000, as did the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, according to the filing. Corporate donors included Verizon Wireless ($7,500); California Forensic Medical Group ($5,000); Global Tel*Link ($5,000); and AECOM ($6,000).
According to the second filing, Gore raised $36,000 for the San Diego Alzheimer's Association's "Celebration of Courage and Hope" banquet, held September 21 last year.
Sycuan was also the biggest donor to that, with $16,000. The Chargers gave $10,000, Progress Construction came up with $5,000, as did Scripps Health.
Marshall said Gore was "one of many" to send letters requesting contributions for the event, but the FPPC's Ravel advised it was better to "err on the side of caution” and report all of the money that came in, whether or not the sheriff was directly responsible for raising it.
Bill Kolender, who preceded Gores as Sheriff, suffers from Alzheimer's disease and is currently in memory care. Chargers owner Alex Spanos is also a reported dementia patient.
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