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National minimum-wage opponents furnished much of the money for this summer's San Diego referendum campaign, effectively killing the local wage-boost law adopted by the Democratic majority of the city council, at least until the measure goes before voters in June 2016.

According to a campaign financial disclosure statement filed with the San Diego city clerk's office November 4, a group calling itself the San Diego Small Business Coalition, sponsored by the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, raised $497,499 and spent $496,482,

Small-business contributions were few and far between.

Instead, $100,000 of the funds came from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a Washington DC–based industry lobbying group. The California Restaurant Association Issues PAC out of Sacramento contributed $40,000, and the International Franchise Association of Washington DC gave $25,000.

Big local donors included the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC, with $152,499, and the San Diego Restaurant and Beverage PAC, with $95,000. The San Diego Lodging Industry Association PAC gave $45,000.

Only two individual local businesses are listed as giving money to the referendum drive: Phil's BBQ of Point Loma, Inc., with $10,000, and Shelter Island, Inc., owned by the Baumann family, operators of the Bali Hai and Tom Ham's Lighthouse, with $5000.

The filing also reveals that the signature-gathering effort made extensive use of consultants based outside California.

National Petition Management of Brighton, Michigan, got $272,108. Rena Offutt of Caldwell, Idaho, received $32,932. Kevin Oglesby, of Orlando, Florida, got $5363.

As previously reported here, minimum-wage-boost opponent Douglas Manchester's U-T San Diego warned the city council in July about trying to raise the minimum wage.

"Expect hardball," promised a U-T San Diego editorial. "It can get ugly."

The referendum drive pitted Manchester against the U-T publisher's longtime political nemesis Irwin Jacobs, the billionaire Democrat of La Jolla who co-authored a polite op-ed piece in the U-T asking the anti-wage-boost advocates to "please drop the referendum threat."

The referendum sponsors gathered more than 56,000 signatures, easily enough to qualify the measure and force the city council to either rescind its ordinance or put it on the June 2016 citywide ballot, which it voted unanimously to do on October 20.

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aardvark Nov. 6, 2014 @ 12:01 p.m.

Todd Gloria has said in the past that well over 60% of the voters are in favor of raising the minimum wage, but we won't know that until it gets on the ballot--in 2016. Had this been on the ballot when originally proposed (like it was supposed to be) and the support was truly this strong, the wage hike would now be law and no referendum could change it. Perhaps the people that wanted to bypass the ballot box miscalculated?


monaghan Nov. 6, 2014 @ 12:19 p.m.

Nice work, Matt Potter, for promptly uncovering the faces hiding behind the bogus "San Diego Small Business Association" which has diverted enacting a minimum wage for local workers for two more years.

When will we stop legislating by ballot initiatives that are funded entirely by special interest money? When will we end the tsunami of corporate money that is destroying the integrity of public elections?


dwbat Nov. 6, 2014 @ 1:10 p.m.

It's likely the tsunami of corporate money will just increase! Especially after the success they gained on Tuesday.


Bob_Hudson Nov. 6, 2014 @ 1:28 p.m.

Many of those groups/PACs are coalitions of small businesses and they are the employers most affected by an increase so why would anyone be surprised that they would band together to protect themselves?

"Special interest money" funds EVERYTHING in campaigns. We are all part of many special interests that have PACs and lobbying organizations: renters, homeowners, business owners, unions, taxpayers, government aid recipients, environmentalists, churchgoers, LGBT, motorists, bicyclists, bus riders, liberals, conservatives, etc.

You may directly not send money to them, but no matter your politics there are "special interest" groups spending millions and millions on your behalf to influence the course of government. The AFL CIO - a very big business - speng $30 million on political causes in the past year and big corporate honchos as Qualcomm's Irwin Jacobs give a lot more than that everyone year to Democratic candidates and so-called progressive causes.

Don't you know when Obama gets on the phone to call donors (and all politicians do that that) he's not calling poor workers asking for $25 - he's calling rich business people.


AlexClarke Nov. 6, 2014 @ 5:20 p.m.

All politicians are bought and paid for. If you want to know who they are beholding to just follow the money. Every person is a member of a special interest group. The members who give the most get the most. It is the rich than can give the most and therefore they get the most. Yes the unions do give to candidates but they back candidates that will work for the average working person. The middle class is being destroyed by the wealthy class.


Visduh Nov. 6, 2014 @ 5:32 p.m.

It is interesting to note the interest of all these out-of-town operations in defeat of this minimum-wage ordinance. In cities, and San Francisco comes to mind immediately, that have passed such legislation, there was little hope of defeating them. SD is the exception, and it appears that a defeat here could dampen the desires of other cities to attempt such legislation.

Thanks to Bob Hudson for once again reminding us that money, in large chunks, drives the current political system, and that big bucks defines BOTH parties, and has for a very long time. Corporate America is funding both sides of the national elections, and the unions are buying influence on both sides of the aisle.


AlexClarke Nov. 7, 2014 @ 9:38 a.m.

I agreed with everything you said until the last line about unions. They are the only ones standing up for the worker. Without their money there would be no attention to the plight of minimum/low wage workers. It is sad that so many businesses spend tons of money to ensure that they can hire low wage part time no benefit workers and invest in the future poverty of the American worker.


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