Darrell Issa, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas at Chargers' signature-drive rally, April 23, 2016
  • Darrell Issa, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas at Chargers' signature-drive rally, April 23, 2016
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Let the big-spending political game begin.

So says Dean Spanos and his wealthy extended family from Stockton, as related by the first financial filing with the city clerk's office of a campaign committee calling itself Citizens for Sports, Entertainment and Tourism, with Major Funding by Chargers Football Company, LLC.

Dean Spanos

Dean Spanos

According to the April 22 disclosure, the team has so far kicked in a total of $862,694 in cash for a signature drive to place the matter of building a controversial $1.8 billion city-subsidized downtown stadium on November's ballot.

Before the campaign winds up in the fall, that could seem like a pittance, based on widespread expectation in political circles of a $15 million or perhaps as much as $20 million effort by Spanos to convince voters to hike the city's tax on hotel stays, devoting the resultant cash to the personal fortunes of the Spanos clan.

The first big-money volley came Saturday, when the team staged a downtown rally boasting free food and a Chargers Girls show, along with former star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, quarterback Philip Rivers, NFL honcho Roger Goodell, and three members of Congress.

With Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer and city councilmembers, both Democrats and Republicans, currently on the sidelines in questioning mode, it was up to the unusual trio from Washington to hype the project.

“Great cities have to dream big. They have to have the leadership that believes we can do more,” Republican Darrell Issa told the crowd, according to Union-Tribune coverage of the event.

“Mayor, get off your duff,” cried out border district Democrat Juan Vargas to the absent Faulconer. “Let’s go.”

“Don’t let them tell you we can’t do something great," said La Jolla's wealthy Scott Peters, also a Democrat.

Expecting to exit San Diego for Los Angeles, the Spanos family has long eschewed making campaign contributions to city candidates here.

Records show that the last electoral hopeful to get Chargers-connected money in a city election was then–city councilman Brian Maienschein, who was running in April 2008 for city attorney. Kimberley Layton, the team's community relations director, gave him $100.

And in 2015, the team came up with a grand total of $185 for the Greater San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's political action committee.

Issa, on the other hand, an ally of the NFL in its battle against critics of domestic violence among its players, has accepted major political money from the league.

As reported here last August, Dean Spanos personally came up with $2500 for the Darrell Issa Victory Fund in April 2015.

Also last year, Issa's committee got $5000 from the NFL's Gridiron political action committee, federal records show.

Jackie Speier

Jackie Speier

The congressman is noted for his resistance to a September 2014 effort by Bay Area Democrat Jackie Speier to get his House committee to hold hearings regarding domestic violence by NFL players, including ex-Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, captured on an elevator surveillance camera knocking out Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée.

“Reports of a decision or agreement to hold a hearing are inaccurate," said an Issa-issued response to Speier's announcement of a deal with him to open an investigation of the league’s many problems.

“The NFL’s failure to appropriately respond to crimes and misconduct has harmed the prestige of the game and the millions of Americans who look up to these players as role models,” Speier said in a September 11, 2014, release.

“The NFL’s gross mishandling of the deplorable actions of Ray Rice is the latest example of how this insulated institution has incompetently dealt with serious issues.”

Added the statement, “This committee must also investigate the league’s tolerance of performance-enhancing drugs, the impact of traumatic brain injury on players later in life, and the tax-exempt status the NFL enjoys, thanks to a loophole Congress created in the ’60s.”

Besides Issa’s good fortune, the two Democrats at the Chargers rally also had something to be grateful to the NFL about.

This March 29, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got $15,000 from the Gridiron PAC. The committee got the same amount the year before. The National Republican Congressional Committee received the same, as did the senatorial election committees for both parties.

In addition to Issa, two other area House members, Democrat Susan Davis and the GOP's Duncan Hunter, have drawn financial support from the NFL. Each of their campaigns received $1500 from the Gridiron PAC last year.

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dwbat April 28, 2016 @ 8:05 p.m.

When you want cooperation from politicians, dollars are not blue or red. Plus donors are color-blind.


JustWondering April 28, 2016 @ 8:05 p.m.

Not surprised about Peters...he's been a hack since his city council days and the pension debacle. Don't know how he keeps on getting elected to positions in gov't.


ImJustABill April 29, 2016 @ 7:30 a.m.

I think "Duke" Cunningham turned off voters in our district to GOP congressmen for a while. Peters is a corrupt hack but he's a choirboy compared to Duke.


Ponzi April 28, 2016 @ 9:54 p.m.

Spanos is like steel baron Henry Frick about president Theodore Roosevelt after massive donations to the Republican party by big business helped Roosevelt's reelection and Roosevelt subsequently began proposing legislation to increase regulation of steel mills and railroads.

You see, Henry Frick exclaimed "dammit, when you buy a politician, that politician is supposed to stay bought!"

So much corruption in San Diego. The whole county and city of San Diego need an outside federal investigation.


MichaelValentine April 29, 2016 @ 12:43 p.m.

Well at least San Diego politicians have the integrity to stay bought.

Is that some sort of ethical oxymoron?


aardvark April 29, 2016 @ 7:37 a.m.

Almost $900,000? They probably spent almost that much for pizza at their dog-and-pony shows in Carson last year.


MichaelValentine April 29, 2016 @ 12:39 p.m.

Well sure, when you're a billionaire subsidized by the taxpayers you can show a little largeness.


KLoEditor April 29, 2016 @ 8:38 a.m.

Purely disgusting on so many levels. First that vendido Juan Vargas just sickens me every time I see him. Now Scott Peters, truly, can it be any clearer how the Democratic Party functions in this city when it keeps pushing out these maroons and expects people to support them? Get rid of the whole clown car full of them, get behind Mayor Kev's plan to keep the Chargers out of downtown, and for Godssakes, get some decent people in office and don't let Lorena Gonzalez and her ilk run them out of town again.


Javajoe25 April 29, 2016 @ 12:34 p.m.

The fraud is becoming too much to ignore. It's become undeniably obvious that when it comes to our politics, money is the only thing that matters. It's showing on the national stage with Bernie Sanders pointing to Wall Street's sweetheart, Hillary Clinton, and her big bags of money that she will happily repay when she gets to the White House. And it's front and center here in San Diego with this nonsense about stadiums and convention centers taking precedence over issues like infrastructure, schools, transportation, and homelessness. The political system here has become such an utter failure, it's a wonder a revolution hasn't already taken place. I have to wonder where the failure took place when I see billionaires and millionaires conning working people into doing their bidding and voting against their own interests. I guess we've arrived at a point where there seems to be no stopping stupid. Something needs to change.


boemac April 30, 2016 @ 8:25 a.m.

Now we want to increase sales tax to pay for repair of roads and other needed things. Why not use a small increase in the hotel tax for that instead of giving it to the greedy Spanos family? The hotel owners need to kick in money for a new convention center too seeing they are the ones that get the benefit from it. Let use some common sense for a change.


Visduh May 1, 2016 @ 9:47 a.m.

That trio of congressmen in the photo was a sickening sight. I don't expect anything better from the two Dems, but the fact that my representative, Issa, was up there really bugs me. If he's any sort of fiscal conservative, and he claims to be one, he would never support giveaways of taxpayer money. Make no mistake that here locally, a dollar wasted on welfare for cronies or billionaires is a dollar that didn't go toward paying for a 911 operator, or go for street repair, water main replacement, sewer upgrades, or buying library books. While the federal government can, and does, borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every year, a city or state cannot do that on a large scale. All three of those jerks know better, but have to roll out the rah-rah nonsense to make voters feel good. They do it because it works for them; it gets them reelected. So, there we have the richest member of congress standing next to a close rival for net worth, both of whom portray themselves to voters as champions of the little guy. Sickening for sure!


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