Where is Anthony George and what is he up to?
Back in March 2014, newly elected San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer announced George would join his city hall staff as the mayor's "community representative" for Mission Valley.
Before that, according to his LinkedIn page, George was a "political operative" for Faulconer's mayoral campaign, and prior to that interned at Revolvis Consulting, co-owned by Jason Roe. Faulconer's longtime political guru, Roe has tangled repeatedly with Chargers honcho Mark Fabiani over conflict-of-interest charges stemming from Roe's lobbying activity for Qualcomm Stadium vending giant Delaware North.
Now, as yet another nasty stadium controversy has erupted, George has officially gone on vacation and the mayor’s office isn’t saying anything more, though there is a possible clue.
The latest amended financial disclosure for Faulconer's 2016 reelection campaign, filed March 2, shows that an Anthony George received $319.46 for airfare to Washington DC, on a weeklong trip from January 24 through February 2 of this year, along with $368.45 to attend "campaign school."
The trip's cost was booked as "staff/spouse travel, lodging, and meals," according to the filing.
George, whose taxpayer-funded duties for Faulconer have included representing the mayor regarding city planning and development activities, didn't respond to a voice-mail message left at his city hall office. Mayoral press aide Jen Lebron Kuhney confirmed George is currently on leave away from the office but couldn't be more specific.
Asked to seek further details from higher-ups regarding George's whereabouts and current doings in light of the campaign disclosure, Kuhney subsequently responded with a one-sentence email, saying, "Anthony is on vacation. Any questions about the campaign should be directed to Jason Roe."
Roe, who didn't respond to a phone message left on his voice-mail system, has himself been on the road of late during this busy political season, retained by the presidential campaign of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to counter Donald Trump’s onslaught.
Faulconer, a veteran executive of public relations giant and influence-peddler Porter Novelli, and widely believed to covet higher office, relies heavily on former and current political aides to conduct campaign and city hall business, including his chief of staff Stephen Puetz, a onetime executive for Roe at Revolvis.
The Faulconer re-election campaign’s March 2 filing shows that Puetz has been paid $1462.74 for “office expenses,” with $277.66 still owed.
The chummy ties between Roe, Puetz, Revolvis, and the mayor's official business have drawn fire from his political and policy foes, most prominently Fabiani of the Chargers, now engineering a push by team owner Dean Spanos and ex-Padres owner John Moores to build a downtown football stadium over the objections of Faulconer’s big-money backers, including Mission Valley land barons eager to build a new sports venue there.
"We write to clarify the legal and practical role that your political advisors are playing in the operations of your new stadium Task Force," Fabiani said in a letter to the mayor in February 17 of last year.
"When the meeting between the Chargers' representative and the Task Force began, your chief political consultant, Jason Cable Roe, sat with the Task Force throughout the entire meeting."
He went on to say, “Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, what sense does it make to have someone who is your chief advisor on political matters, and who advises a potential stadium vendor on business matters, play any sort of role with the 'independent' Task Force?"
Added Fabiani, "Have you asked the City Attorney for an opinion on the propriety of Mr. Roe's intensive involvement with the Task Force's work? If you have not yet asked for such an opinion from the City Attorney, do you intend to do so?"
Roe subsequently exited his lobbying business.
With a possibly ugly ballot battle over the location and funding for a new football stadium looming, it remains to be seen if the mysterious time off for the mayor's Mission Valley foot soldier further fans Fabiani’s flames.