Charlie Morgenstern 11 a.m., May 24
Predator drones and Qualcomm cash likely to finance Peters-DeMaio clash
Today's GOP announcement launches scramble for millions of special interest money from deep pockets of San Diego's high-tech and military contracting political bases
It's too soon to find any information posted online by the Federal Election Commission regarding the cash behind today's just-launched congressional campaign of Carl DeMaio, the Republican ex-city councilman who last year lost his mayoral election bid to Democrat Bob Filner.
But there is plenty about the money given to his target, Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, much of it from big business and the nation's monied high-tech class, many members of which are virtually certain to also open their collective wallets for DeMaio.
As reported here last month, during the first quarter of this year Peters got a slug of campaign funding from both local and national cyber-industry types, including Kurt DelBene of Medina, Washington, president of the Office software division of Microsoft, who kicked in $2600.
Other money rolled in from Peters's many Qualcomm connections, including $1,000 from Alan Viterbi, son of a company co-founder. La Jollan Bill Gurtin, CEO of Gurtin Fixed Income, gave $5200 on March 28. He has appeared in a video touting Qualcomm's mobile medical technology.
A fair amount of the Peters cash came in the weeks before his vote in favor of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA for short, strongly favored by CTIA, a big wireless industry trade association whose board representation includes Qualcomm and Microsoft.
After voting for the measure, Peters posted a statement online saying “As a center for technology and research in the public, private, and defense sectors, San Diego will be at the heart of the nascent cyber security industry as it develops strategies to protect the interests of American consumers and commercial entities into the future.”
Many other congressional Democrats, including Peters's fellow first term member Suzan DelBene, married to the Microsoft president, took a different position, voting against the bill.
“While I support the goals of this legislation, the CISPA bill voted on by the House today unfortunately does not offer necessary protections to safeguard Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights.
It grants immunity to corporations that don’t protect the personal information of customers that they freely share with the federal government.
This bill doesn’t do enough to prevent personally identifiable information or the private communications of individuals from being collected by federal agencies. This is inconsistent with our nation’s values regarding individual privacy.
Will the newly announced DeMaio challenge push Peters even further into the arms of the local high-tech venture capital establishment?
The Qualcomm lobby - which last year favored erstwhile GOP Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for mayor against DeMaio, and was founded by liberal Barack Obama backer and stalwart Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs - seems unlikely to publicly support the Republican against Peters.
But Qualcomm's PAC quietly gives to parties on both sides of the aisle, and there is plenty of cash still to be mined from the booming cell phone and electronic intelligence and U.S. weaponry industry here.
A determined DeMaio could make serious inroads into that funding base, especially among members of the high-tech defense establishment, led by La Jolla's Predator drone-making GOP Blue brothers, James Neal and Linden.
Last year, each of the ultra-conservative brothers gave DeMaio's mayoral campaign committee the maximum $1000. In all, employees of their firm, General Atomics, gave DeMaio’s mayoral try a total of $4173, which was the highest amount contributed by the workers to any city candidate during an almost ten year period, according to a spreadsheet analysis of donor data made available online by the San Diego city clerk's office.
U-T San Diego, owned by GOP hotel mogul and bon vivant Douglas Manchester, a close ally of DeMaio and himself a player in high-tech venture capital, could also help round up major military tech contractor cash.
Manchester's newspaper has maintained a discrete wall of silence around the Peters CISPA vote, but - as it did during the DeMaio campaign against Filner - is widely expected to engage in heavy opportunistic fire against Peters as the campaign proceeds.
More like this:
- Congressman Peters and the dark arts — Nov. 14, 2014
- U-T owner Manchester moves more big money into San Diego GOP — Sept. 3, 2013
- Big money battle brews with DeMaio's Orange County trip — July 1, 2013
- Playing follow the money with DeMaio vs. Peters — June 26, 2013
- Peters got $2600 from Microsoft Office president in weeks before CISPA vote — April 22, 2013