Austin Beutner advocated for campaign finance reform when he was running for the L.A. mayoral seat three years ago.
  • Austin Beutner advocated for campaign finance reform when he was running for the L.A. mayoral seat three years ago.
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“Our own city has seen a chorus of ethics violations and influence peddling from city officials,” wrote Austin Beutner, the new publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, now owned by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. “Advisors to these same city officials boast of ‘leveraging their elected office’ to raise campaign donations and openly flout a new law intended to restrict city contractors from making campaign contributions.” Continued Beutner, “Shameful, isn’t it? No wonder the public has little trust or respect for politicians. Elected office is meant to be an honor, not a road to personal riches.” The solution? “It’s time for a top-to-bottom reform of the city’s lax ethics rules and bloated perks and compensation practices which undermine city government by feeding cynicism about our public institutions and elected leaders.”

Beutner wasn’t talking about San Diego, where the ethics commission recently reported that local influence peddlers — including three former city councilmen, Republicans Jim Madaffer and Byron Wear, and Democrat Tony Young — grossed a new annual record of $3.9 million in special-interest lobbying fees last year. Instead, the U-T honcho, who is also publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was describing the situation in L.A. in a January 2012 blog item he wrote for the Huffington Post.

At the time, Beutner, a former investment banker and onetime top aide to Democratic mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was engaged in a brief run for L.A. mayor. Whether the San Diego U-T under Beutner will endorse ethics reform here — which could threaten the long-term revenue potential of the city’s top commercial powers, and hence engender their animosity to the newly revised paper — remains to be seen. When it came to the widespread practice of anteing up cash for influence at city hall, previous U-T publisher Douglas Manchester, a major Republican campaign giver who employed downtown super lobbyist Paul Robinson to obtain millions of dollars’ worth of added property value in post facto permits for his Grand del Mar resort, discretely looked the other way.

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Comments

AlexClarke June 3, 2015 @ 6:27 a.m.

Politics used to be about service to the citizens but that was long ago. Politics for some time has been all about money. There is no politician that is not beholding to those who paid for his election to office. No one, or group, pays out large sums of money and expects nothing in return. Money buys the politician. Money buys access and influence. Beutner could have been talking about Anywhere USA. Candidates are bought and paid for long before the voters cast their vote. For the most part voters are electing the lesser of two evils. Follow the money and you will see who owns and operates the politician.

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MichaelValentine June 3, 2015 @ 8:17 a.m.

When it comes to servicing the citizens of San Diego the politician who dares to put people first will have any personal blemish splashed across the front page and orchestrated in the local news for what could be called HuggyGate style. (BTW I wonder how many of the Democrats who called for Bob's resignation supported the Clinton impeachment? Just saying ....)

I guess the rule is "Play ball with us or we'll shove the bat up your ....".

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dwbat June 3, 2015 @ 8:47 a.m.

I definitely supported Bob's resignation because his public behavior was reprehensible. As for Clinton, the impeachment was inappropriate but what Slick Willy did with an intern was totally beyond the pale. The guy is (or was) a sexual pig. I later left the Democratic Party because of his behavior, to become independent. Bad conduct happens with pols from both parties, and when it happens: throw the bums out!

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swell June 3, 2015 @ 4:40 p.m.

Around the world there are a few courageous reporters who risk their lives to present the truth that those in power want hidden. In Tijuana alone there are several tales of valor. Let's hope the new Union-Tribune will have such reporters.

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monaghan June 3, 2015 @ 10:19 p.m.

Jim Madaffer, Byron Wear and Tony Young -- not exactly princes among men, though they live like kings. They know their way around City Hall and that is worth at least $3.9 million to developers. Tony Young, a black Democrat from District 4, is especially disappointing for the many ways he has sold out. But hey, this is America, and if you can make a buck or a million as a lobbyist, go for it. Many many slime balls have done it before these guys. Somehow I don't think hedge fund moralist Austin Beutner is going to save us from ourselves.

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