As it grows ever more intense, the big-cash battle for mayor of San Diego has taken some interesting turns on both sides.
Once imprisoned ex-super lawyer Bill Lerach — put behind bars by the administration of Republican George W. Bush for taking kickbacks in a shareholder case — is set to host a Thursday, February 6, fundraiser at his lavish La Jolla estate.
As reported by Don Bauder in May 2010:
Now [Lerach] is out, residing comfortably in one of the county’s most luxurious spreads, a cliffside villa in La Jolla. He is worth an estimated $700 million. The government made him pay a mere $7.5 million for his crimes.
The profane, volatile, bullying Scotch guzzler and work addict — now on his fourth marriage — can no longer practice law but is preparing to teach a course at the University of California Irvine School of Law.
Advertised as starring in the event with Lerach is ex–San Francisco mayor and current Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose last major political turn in San Diego was as advocate for Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs's now defunct plan to make over Balboa Park with a new road system.
Newsom subsequently received a $12,000 donation to his re-election campaign from Jacobs and his wife Joan, who supported Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher for mayor against Alvarez and Faulconer during last year's primary.
On the other side of the political money aisle in the mayor's race, an independent campaign committee operated by Jennifer Tierney, a longtime consultant to scandal-plagued GOP district attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Republican city councilman Kevin Faulconer, has been buying up TV commercial time to promote Faulconer’s candidacy against Alvarez.
As previously reported, the Tierney-led group, calling itself “San Diegans to Protect Jobs and the Economy, Supporting Kevin Faulconer for Mayor 2014,” has raked in sizable contributions from local builder and restaurant owners lobbies, including $100,000 from the Building Industry Association of San Diego and $60,000 from the San Diego Restaurant and Beverage political action committee.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC has kicked in $176,000. The original sources of those funds could not immediately be determined.
Another of the Tierney group’s big contributions, $89,960 on January 24, came through the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors Fund. Additional funding from the real-estate lobby has been via the Sacramento-based California Real Estate Political Action Committee ($34,000) and the San Diego Association of Realtors PAC ($24,000). The Infrastructure PAC of the Associated General Contractors has kicked in $50,000.
The group's total take as of January 29 is $786,000, according to data posted online by the San Diego city clerk's office.
Tierney is currently near the epicenter of the city's latest campaign money laundering scandal, in which a longtime friend and associate of Dumanis, ex–San Diego cop Ernesto Encinas, has been charged. Washington DC–based internet guru Ravneet Singh and San Diego strip-club lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes were also charged with money laundering.
Employees of La Jolla luxury car dealer Marc Chase, who has been implicated in published reports as a so-called straw man in the scheme, gave at least $9000 to Dumanis's 2012 mayoral campaign committee, which in turn paid Tierney for her services. $1000 of the money, according to campaign reports, came from Chase's brother Bernard, convicted of a cocaine-related felony.
Other cash referred to in the federal charges was funneled through an independent committee for Dumanis, which both the D.A. and Tierney have been quoted as saying they knew nothing about.