Barona supplied free meals to state politicians from both parties.
While election fights raged this past summer, some California pols who were safely ensconced in their seats or faced easy ballot battles partook of some heaping hospitality from the Barona Band of Mission Indians, operator of a giant backcountry casino. Republican senate minority leader Bob Huff stopped by on August 17 for a meal worth $94.49, according to Barona’s lobbying disclosure report. He was joined the same day by fellow GOP senator Mark Wyland and Republican Assembly members Martin Garrick, Connie Conway, and Diane Harkey, who each ran up the same tab. Democrats weren’t left out. San Diego Assemblyman Ben Hueso got an $85.17 meal at the resort on September 27, as did his Democratic colleagues Roger Hernandez, V. Manuel Perez, Luis Alejo, Ricardo Lara, and Lara aide Ivan Carrillo. Meanwhile, San Diego–based utility giant Sempra Energy was handing out “Food & beverage” and a “Commemorative Coin” valued at a combined $49 each to Henry Kuiper, a Colorado River Board of California member; Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission; Jody Vaughn, district director for GOP Assemblywoman Harkey; and Janine Paris, chief of staff for Democratic state Senator Juan Vargas, who was easily elected to the U.S. Congress in November… The San Diego Police Officers Association came out very well in this year’s elections, winning a Democratic city council majority, along with Democratic mayor-elect Bob Filner, who triumphed over the cops’ longtime nemesis, GOP city councilman Carl DeMaio. And the labor group, which received piles of cash from other cop unions in the state, was active right until the end of the campaign. A tardy post-election filing by the law enforcers last week revealed a $12,056 independent expenditure in the form of “endorsement postcards” sent October 31 on behalf of La Jolla Democratic city councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who throttled Republican opponent Ray Ellis.