Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

San Diego city council donors fined and fined

High-stakes game

— As the debate about expansion of the stadium rages on, callers to radio talk shows have voiced a consistent, plaintive question: "How could the city council have negotiated such a bad deal for taxpayers?" Veteran city hall insiders have a simple reply: "Follow the money."

Over the past two years, records show, every member of the council, whether opposed for re-election or not, along with the city attorney and mayor, has received multiple campaign contributions totalling $42,645 from donors who work for companies with a possible financial stake in the outcome of the stadium debate. If the issue goes to the ballot, as demanded by 59,000 voters who signed referendum petitions, these companies and their clients could lose millions of dollars in consulting and construction contracts.

Whether by coincidence or not, many of those councilmembers receiving the largest total contributions from the stadium-related groups have been among the most vociferous opponents of placing the measure on the ballot. They have also pointedly refused to allow voters to decide whether a city ethics commission supported by the mayor, with subpoena power to investigate allegations of money laundering, should be created.

Councilmembers have denied being influenced by campaign contributions funneled to them from special interests seeking council favors. They have also denied knowing that the money was laundered; thus far no councilmembers have been indicted for corruption.

A spokesman for Luce, Forward has denied that any money given by partners or others working for the firm was reimbursed by Luce, Forward. The other stadium-related firms have also denied laundering money. However, in several notorious cases, other major corporations and developers have been accused by the state Fair Political Practices Commission of attempting to buy influence by laundering thousands of dollars of contributions to councilmembers prior to crucial votes. Each of the accused have been forced to settle the cases by paying large fines.

In September of last year, developer Frank Gatlin and his law firm - Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden - agreed to pay $420,000 in penalties for making illegally laundered campaign contributions to six San Diego City Council candidates, including 100 separate contributions totaling $27,000 from Gatlin to councilmembers Ron Roberts, Juan Vargas, and Barbara Warden. Gatlin's San BernardinoPbased attorney Mark Ostoich and his law firm admitted they had been the intermediary for 110 separate contributions totalling $29,000 to Roberts, Vargas, Warden, and Judy McCarty and George Stevens. As part of a deal, the FPPC dropped its criminal investigation after the fines were paid. The case, which began after a story about Gatlin's suspicious contributions appeared in the Reader in August 1994, revolved around Gatlin's attempts to get approvals and other city concessions for a series of Wal-Mart shopping center developments.

Last February, the H.G. Fenton Material Company of San Diego paid a $90,300 fine to avoid formal charges that it had laundered campaign money to the council. Six Fenton employees and the wife of one employee were found to have made 53 illegal contributions, totaling almost $10,000, between 1989 and 1993. The company reimbursed the employees after they contributed, violating city and state election laws. Contribution recipients included Juan Vargas, Judy McCarty, Christine Kehoe, and Valerie Stallings.

In November 1995, Cox Cable was slapped with a $42,000 fine for reimbursing employees for 24 laundered contributions totalling $4850 to city councilmembers and other politicians. Councilwoman Valerie Stallings got three contributions totalling $500.

In April 1994, the state Fair Political Practices Commission levied a $93,000 fine against the Yarmouth Group, owner of the Fashion Valley shopping mall, for laundering $11,000 through 44 separate contributors to Mayor Susan Golding and six current and former city councilmembers. Employees of the New YorkPbased Yarmouth made the contributions and then were reimbursed by the company. Golding, who collected $3250 from Yarmouth, told the Union-Tribune she had been hoodwinked by the firm and voiced her indignation: "We're trying to restore the public's trust in government, and then a business does something like this and it hurts the whole effort."

The continuing flow of illegal campaign money to the council revealed in these cases has generated editorial calls for reform and the creation of a so-called public integrity unit in the city attorney's office. However, records show that "bundles" of campaign cash - checks from employees and vendors of the same firm bearing the identical date - continue to find their way into city council campaign coffers. If the contribution is truly made by the donor who signed the check, there is nothing illegal. But critics note that proving reimbursements can be hard to do, even for the best, most honest investigators. And they point out that the city attorney's so-called public integrity unit, funded by the city council itself, is not an independent body and thus can't be expected to investigate its own.

An independent city ethics commission with subpoena power was voted down by the council in December 1995. Proposed by Golding two years before, it was finally brought before council for a vote after published reports said she had abandoned the idea. Although the mayor was in support of putting the ethics commission proposal on the ballot for voters to decide, other councilmembers were not. First District Councilman Harry Mathis said the board would "have the power to damage reputations and heavily influence the outcome of elections."

The measure was rejected 5-4. Voting no were Mathis and councilmembers Christine Kehoe, George Stevens, Barbara Warden, and Judy McCarty. Along with Golding in favor were Byron Wear, Valerie Stallings, and Juan Vargas. Claimed Kehoe: "A well-timed investigation - or even the suggestion of an investigation - three, four, five days before an election, could easily unseat ...a race that's close." A few months later, when a citizen brought the matter up again before the Golding-chaired rules committee, Golding voted against reconsidering it.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The Golf Bar: Bratwurst and ball whacking

“This is the first golf bar in San Diego.”
Next Article

Interview fashionista finds comfort in Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M

Claire still believes in wearing pants while working remotely

— As the debate about expansion of the stadium rages on, callers to radio talk shows have voiced a consistent, plaintive question: "How could the city council have negotiated such a bad deal for taxpayers?" Veteran city hall insiders have a simple reply: "Follow the money."

Over the past two years, records show, every member of the council, whether opposed for re-election or not, along with the city attorney and mayor, has received multiple campaign contributions totalling $42,645 from donors who work for companies with a possible financial stake in the outcome of the stadium debate. If the issue goes to the ballot, as demanded by 59,000 voters who signed referendum petitions, these companies and their clients could lose millions of dollars in consulting and construction contracts.

Whether by coincidence or not, many of those councilmembers receiving the largest total contributions from the stadium-related groups have been among the most vociferous opponents of placing the measure on the ballot. They have also pointedly refused to allow voters to decide whether a city ethics commission supported by the mayor, with subpoena power to investigate allegations of money laundering, should be created.

Councilmembers have denied being influenced by campaign contributions funneled to them from special interests seeking council favors. They have also denied knowing that the money was laundered; thus far no councilmembers have been indicted for corruption.

A spokesman for Luce, Forward has denied that any money given by partners or others working for the firm was reimbursed by Luce, Forward. The other stadium-related firms have also denied laundering money. However, in several notorious cases, other major corporations and developers have been accused by the state Fair Political Practices Commission of attempting to buy influence by laundering thousands of dollars of contributions to councilmembers prior to crucial votes. Each of the accused have been forced to settle the cases by paying large fines.

In September of last year, developer Frank Gatlin and his law firm - Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden - agreed to pay $420,000 in penalties for making illegally laundered campaign contributions to six San Diego City Council candidates, including 100 separate contributions totaling $27,000 from Gatlin to councilmembers Ron Roberts, Juan Vargas, and Barbara Warden. Gatlin's San BernardinoPbased attorney Mark Ostoich and his law firm admitted they had been the intermediary for 110 separate contributions totalling $29,000 to Roberts, Vargas, Warden, and Judy McCarty and George Stevens. As part of a deal, the FPPC dropped its criminal investigation after the fines were paid. The case, which began after a story about Gatlin's suspicious contributions appeared in the Reader in August 1994, revolved around Gatlin's attempts to get approvals and other city concessions for a series of Wal-Mart shopping center developments.

Last February, the H.G. Fenton Material Company of San Diego paid a $90,300 fine to avoid formal charges that it had laundered campaign money to the council. Six Fenton employees and the wife of one employee were found to have made 53 illegal contributions, totaling almost $10,000, between 1989 and 1993. The company reimbursed the employees after they contributed, violating city and state election laws. Contribution recipients included Juan Vargas, Judy McCarty, Christine Kehoe, and Valerie Stallings.

In November 1995, Cox Cable was slapped with a $42,000 fine for reimbursing employees for 24 laundered contributions totalling $4850 to city councilmembers and other politicians. Councilwoman Valerie Stallings got three contributions totalling $500.

In April 1994, the state Fair Political Practices Commission levied a $93,000 fine against the Yarmouth Group, owner of the Fashion Valley shopping mall, for laundering $11,000 through 44 separate contributors to Mayor Susan Golding and six current and former city councilmembers. Employees of the New YorkPbased Yarmouth made the contributions and then were reimbursed by the company. Golding, who collected $3250 from Yarmouth, told the Union-Tribune she had been hoodwinked by the firm and voiced her indignation: "We're trying to restore the public's trust in government, and then a business does something like this and it hurts the whole effort."

The continuing flow of illegal campaign money to the council revealed in these cases has generated editorial calls for reform and the creation of a so-called public integrity unit in the city attorney's office. However, records show that "bundles" of campaign cash - checks from employees and vendors of the same firm bearing the identical date - continue to find their way into city council campaign coffers. If the contribution is truly made by the donor who signed the check, there is nothing illegal. But critics note that proving reimbursements can be hard to do, even for the best, most honest investigators. And they point out that the city attorney's so-called public integrity unit, funded by the city council itself, is not an independent body and thus can't be expected to investigate its own.

An independent city ethics commission with subpoena power was voted down by the council in December 1995. Proposed by Golding two years before, it was finally brought before council for a vote after published reports said she had abandoned the idea. Although the mayor was in support of putting the ethics commission proposal on the ballot for voters to decide, other councilmembers were not. First District Councilman Harry Mathis said the board would "have the power to damage reputations and heavily influence the outcome of elections."

The measure was rejected 5-4. Voting no were Mathis and councilmembers Christine Kehoe, George Stevens, Barbara Warden, and Judy McCarty. Along with Golding in favor were Byron Wear, Valerie Stallings, and Juan Vargas. Claimed Kehoe: "A well-timed investigation - or even the suggestion of an investigation - three, four, five days before an election, could easily unseat ...a race that's close." A few months later, when a citizen brought the matter up again before the Golding-chaired rules committee, Golding voted against reconsidering it.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

La Jolla Tide Pools meets Craftsman-style renovation

In its early days, the Kline House operated as La Jolla Sanatorium
Next Article

Ellen Sturgis Hooper: cited as the most gifted of the Transcendentalist Movement

Ralph Waldo Emerson often commissioned her to write verse for The Dial
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close