Ads for a San Diego County candidate for the state Board of Equalization favored by Republican publisher and real estate mogul Douglas Manchester and retired Democratic San Diego South Bay state senator Steve Peace have been popping up on web pages, thanks to online media buys by Peace's Independent Voter PAC.
As noted here previously, former Chula Vista mayor and GOP ex-assemblywoman Shirley Horton got $6000 from Manchester on April 21. The U-T has been particularly kind to Horton with friendly coverage due to what is said to be a discreet news and editorial relationship that has paid off with unusually strong support from Manchester writers.
Now, a group calling itself the Independent Voter PAC has weighed in with an online ad campaign for Horton. A November 8 filing with the California secretary of state's office shows that the PAC bought $3500 worth of Facebook ads on May 7, and more buys may be in the offing.
As reported here in November 2012, the Independent Voter PAC, then being managed by former Peace aide David Takashima, got major money from several of the state's big business and union interests and spent it on direct mail pieces on behalf of GOP state-senate candidate George Plescia as well as Proposition 30, the tax-increase measure favored by Democratic governor Jerry Brown.
Since then, Takashima has moved to San Francisco, where he is a special projects assistant to mayor Ed Lee.
In a telephone interview, Peace said that the PAC's goals this year are to support various candidates who back the adoption and defense of open primaries, which he successfully spearheaded in California.
According to state disclosure filings, on April 28 the Independent Voter PAC received $25,000 from PG&E, the big San Francisco power company that has been a longtime supporter of the committee. Its most recent previous contribution was $30,000 last September.
Other donors to the kitty have included Eli Lilly and Company, with $12,500 in October of last year, as well as $25,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America independent expenditure committee on December 13, 2013. San Diego–based Sempra Energy kicked in $15,000 on December 31.
Horton is running against GOP assemblywoman Diane Harkey of Orange County. A previous San Diego County candidate, Del Mar GOP state senator Mark Wyland, dropped out of the race following a legal tussle with Harkey over remarks he made about a fraud case against her husband's real estate business.
Peace is famous for running an annual legislators' getaway in Maui each fall for both Republicans and Democrats, which has attracted its share of criticism for its posh privacy and the presence of lobbyists, though sponsors insist no lobbying takes place.
Peace's son Chad runs the Independent Voter Network, a nonprofit online news operation separate from the political fund.