It’s not the great sand shot that’s making Juan Vargas smile, it’s the thousands he raked in at his Mission Valley golf fundraiser.
  • It’s not the great sand shot that’s making Juan Vargas smile, it’s the thousands he raked in at his Mission Valley golf fundraiser.
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It took only a short time for Democrat Juan Vargas to conduct his first San Diego fundraiser as a newly elected Democratic congressman. On March 22, according to an invitation widely circulated here and on Capitol Hill, Vargas threw his “first annual” “Margaritas, Mariachis & Mulligans” fundraiser, teeing off at Mission Valley’s Riverwalk golf course. The per-person tab for golf and booze was listed as $1250. Attendees who went to only the reception paid $250. According to a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, contributions booked by the campaign that week included $1750 from Mark Arabo, the head of the Neighborhood Market Association, a group representing convenience markets and liquor-store proprietors. In April the market association agreed to pay a $6000 fine to San Diego’s city ethics commission to settle charges it failed to fully disclose so-called robocalls and direct-mail hits it made against Democrat Bob Filner in last year’s mayoral campaign, ultimately won by Filner, a onetime Vargas nemesis.

Other notable San Diego Vargas backers included developer William Ayyad ($2000); real estate man Bernardo Diaz ($800); Sunroad’s Aaron Feldman, developer of that controversial over-height building near Montgomery Field ($500); Fred Maass, the developer caught up in the scandal over so-called opposition research he commissioned against GOP ex-councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio ($1000); and developer Bruce Tabb ($2500). Political action committees also got in on the action, including the Employees of Northrup Grumman Corporation PAC ($2500); Experian PAC ($1500); Humane Society Legislative Fund PAC ($1000); and Ameripac, a PAC associated with Maryland Democratic congressman Steny H. Hoyer, second-ranking in the House Democratic leadership ($2000).

A great deal of the other PAC cash collected by Vargas came from those associated with the sugar industry. They included the American Crystal Sugar Company PAC ($5000); American Sugar Cane League Political Action Committee ($1000); American Sugarbeet Growers Association PAC ($1000); California Beet Growers Association LTD Political Committee ($500); Great Lakes Sugarbeet Growers PAC ($3000); Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative Sugar PAC ($1000); Snake River Sugar Co. Political Action Committee ($1000); Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative PAC ($2000); and the Western Sugar Cooperative PAC ($3000).

It happens that the sugar producers have been battling against proposals to abolish price supports on the sweet stuff. Pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into its battle, the sugar kings have so far been able to hang on to their subsidies; last week the Senate rejected the reform measure on a 55-45 vote.

Vargas, who sits on the key House Agriculture Committee, wasn’t alone in taking sugar cash. Roll Call noted Monday, June 10, that the American Crystal Sugar Company reported spending $1,004,117 on lobbying during the first quarter of 2013, about $300,000 less than for all of last year. Lawmakers from big sugar-producing states, including liberal Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota, have fought off the would-be reform legislation. Senate passage of the farm bill was expected Monday, with the House taking up its final version soon.

Vargas used much of the cash he raised during the first three months of this year to pay down campaign debts. He made a $25,000 payment to the Primacy Group, the political consulting outfit owned by Larry Remer, whose hard-hitting attacks last month against Democratic city-council candidate Dwayne Crenshaw, heavily backed by the Republican Lincoln Club, drew editorial opprobrium from GOP developer Douglas Manchester’s U-T San Diego. Remer worked for labor-backed Democrat Myrtle Cole, who won the Fourth District race.

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anniej June 13, 2013 @ 6:39 p.m.

Juan Vargas is seen, by many in the community, he first promised to represent as a fraud. He does little if anything for those he represents, but what he has become a master at is self promotion. He is all about 'what is in it for me', 'how can this decision help me'.

Does it surprise me that he surrounds himself with self serving big business, ah, that would be a NO. Birds of a feather and all you know. I believe he is alleged to be friends of certain indicted school board members down in the South Bay, oh, but that is right so is the Mayor.

Sooner or later Vargas will travel the road of a like politician, Uvaldo Martinez - we all remember him don't we?

Juan Vargas, why not try a simpler approach - get out and walk and talk to your constituents, I MEAN YOU, not your staff. Silly me, golf is so much more fun!!!!


eastlaker June 17, 2013 @ 10:58 a.m.

Vargas has the credentials, he has the glossy photos. Can he find the heart of the matter?

Some people--true leaders--do not settle for their personal comfort. Some people keep an ear to the ground, keep in mind what is right, and act accordingly.

Will we ever see leadership from Vargas? I had heard that he sold out to insurance interests, and now it seems that agribusiness is running a close second.

No wonder none of the politicians really want campaign reform. Which is why the public needs to insist upon it.


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