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.