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Shell game

It’s getting hard to tell who is financing whom in the increasingly combative races for San Diego city council and city attorney. As the jousting intensifies, so does the cost of campaigning, but not all of the money is showing up on financial disclosure reports filed by the candidates at city hall. Instead, much of the high-dollar campaigning is being done by ostensibly “independent committees” and political parties, which aren’t bound by the City’s ban on corporate contributions. Making things even less transparent, campaign cash can be given to one campaign committee and transferred to another, then another and another, ad infinitum, thereby further obscuring the source of the funds. This is handy for developers, city vendors, and other special interests seeking to back a favored candidate without disclosing the potentially embarrassing support.

Currently the most prominent example of the practice is the county Republican Central Committee. Though city council races are officially nonpartisan, in recent years both Democrats and Republicans have begun making endorsements in each district, allowing them to use a loophole in state law to “communicate” with party members who provide their preference when they sign up to vote. The so-called communication can range from doing polls to sending out hit pieces.

From January 1 through March 17, the local GOP spent a total of $107,400, of which $23,509 went to efforts backing Seventh District candidate April Boling, the party’s endorsed candidate who also serves as the GOP’s treasurer. Another $23,000 was spent on behalf of Jan Goldsmith, running against Mike Aguirre for city attorney.

During the same period, the Republicans took in $173,500. Fifty-one thousand dollars came from the San Diego Lodging Industry Association PAC, the party’s largest single donor; another $42,500 came from the San Diego Restaurant & Beverage PAC, the second-biggest contributor. Boling also happens to be treasurer of both of those committees. The biggest donors to the hotel group were Bartell Hotels ($22,035) and the Bahia Resort Hotel ($11,985), owned by La Jolla’s Evans family, which leases lucrative Mission Bay and Torrey Pines land from the City.

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It’s getting hard to tell who is financing whom in the increasingly combative races for San Diego city council and city attorney. As the jousting intensifies, so does the cost of campaigning, but not all of the money is showing up on financial disclosure reports filed by the candidates at city hall. Instead, much of the high-dollar campaigning is being done by ostensibly “independent committees” and political parties, which aren’t bound by the City’s ban on corporate contributions. Making things even less transparent, campaign cash can be given to one campaign committee and transferred to another, then another and another, ad infinitum, thereby further obscuring the source of the funds. This is handy for developers, city vendors, and other special interests seeking to back a favored candidate without disclosing the potentially embarrassing support.

Currently the most prominent example of the practice is the county Republican Central Committee. Though city council races are officially nonpartisan, in recent years both Democrats and Republicans have begun making endorsements in each district, allowing them to use a loophole in state law to “communicate” with party members who provide their preference when they sign up to vote. The so-called communication can range from doing polls to sending out hit pieces.

From January 1 through March 17, the local GOP spent a total of $107,400, of which $23,509 went to efforts backing Seventh District candidate April Boling, the party’s endorsed candidate who also serves as the GOP’s treasurer. Another $23,000 was spent on behalf of Jan Goldsmith, running against Mike Aguirre for city attorney.

During the same period, the Republicans took in $173,500. Fifty-one thousand dollars came from the San Diego Lodging Industry Association PAC, the party’s largest single donor; another $42,500 came from the San Diego Restaurant & Beverage PAC, the second-biggest contributor. Boling also happens to be treasurer of both of those committees. The biggest donors to the hotel group were Bartell Hotels ($22,035) and the Bahia Resort Hotel ($11,985), owned by La Jolla’s Evans family, which leases lucrative Mission Bay and Torrey Pines land from the City.

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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
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