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Nathan Fletcher

Knocked out of serious politics by a relentless barrage of hit pieces dispatched by the GOP Lincoln Club, Nathan Fletcher — the onetime Republican assemblyman who became an independent and later a Democrat in his failed quest to become mayor of San Diego — has been out traveling the world, getting in shape for the Rock and Roll Marathon, and generally appearing to be enjoying life on behalf of his employer and campaign money backer Qualcomm, Inc., and founder Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.

But a few pungent whiffs of last year's bitter campaign still linger.

The Neighborhood Market Association, a group of San Diego County market- and liquor-store owners, has gotten a pass on enforcement by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission regarding campaign-finance violations arising from Fletcher's bid for office last year, which featured on-air testimony with his mother about a previously unacknowledged tumultuous family history in Reno and Arkansas.

"On or around October 21, 2013, the Association made a $10,000 contribution to the Neighborhoods for Nathan Fletcher — A Committee to Support Nathan Fletcher for Mayor 2013, Sponsored by Neighborhood Market Association and Restoring Trust in San Diego, and failed to timely disclose that contribution," according to a May 12 letter from commission enforcement chief Gary Winuk to Stephen Kaufman, the neighborhood market group's lawyer.

"Your client’s actions violated the Act because they failed to disclose the $10,000 contribution either as a major donor, or as an intermediary through the Association’s committee’s filings pursuant to Regulation 18419," Winuk wrote.

“However, because the contribution was disclosed by the candidate, your client amended the campaign statement to reflect the contribution as soon as they were made aware of the omission, and because your client does not have an enforcement history, we are closing this matter with a warning letter."

"This letter serves as a written warning," Winuk added. "Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act in the future will result in monetary penalties up to $5000 for each violation."

The market association may not have an enforcement history with state regulators, but it is more than a little bit familiar with San Diego’s city ethics commission.

In February 2010, the group entered into a stipulated agreement with the commission and agreed to pay $14,000 in fines to resolve charges it had failed to report cash it spent to beat 2008's Proposition D, a proposal to ban booze on city beaches.

"One of the primary purposes of the City’s campaign laws is to ensure that information regarding a committee’s sponsorship, funding, and expenditures is timely disclosed to the public," noted the stipulation.

"In this case, the voters in the City of San Diego did not receive this essential information because campaign statements were not filed with the City Clerk (in either paper or electronic format) as required by local and state law."

But the market association wasn't through.

In April of last year the group agreed to pay a $6000 fine to the ethics commission on yet another disclosure rap, this one for failing to adequately report its sponsorship of hit pieces and robo-calls it launched in May 2012 against Fletcher's then-mayoral opponent Bob Filner.

City records show the association and its representatives continue to involve themselves in San Diego politics, most recently giving $1000 each to the mayoral hopes of Democratic city councilman David Alvarez and the eventual victor of the contest and Lincoln Club favorite Republican Kevin Faulconer.

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monaghan June 3, 2014 @ 12:33 p.m.

What can you say about a group called "The Neighborhood Market Association?"

First of all, I guess shuttered Jonathan's in La Jolla isn't a member anymore, sad to say. But if this organization is going around, paying to play politically, they ought to follow the rules and disclose their campaign contributions. Doubtless these ethics fines will drive up the cost of bear-claws, cheetos and beer to the neighborhood market consumer.


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