As the cost of running campaigns in San Diego has grown, so has the influx of major corporate and union contributions. An example is the big money rolling into the San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee this election season, including $10,000 from Chevron Corporation on August 31 and $20,000 from Caterpillar, Inc., on September 24.
According to city campaign disclosure records, since March 2012 the Chamber PAC has raised more than $1.9 million both in and out of town, with the heaviest hitter being the chamber itself, kicking in about $754,325. Next comes Mission Valley developer Tom Sudberry, who personally gave about $475,000, and utility giant Sempra Energy, with $97,500, followed by cable and internet service provider Cox Communications, with a total of $92,500. SeaWorld, which was backed by the chamber in its ultimately unsuccessful drive to keep its killer whale performances, has come up with $24,100, with Arkansas-based retailer Walmart giving $30,000.
This year the chamber is going all out to defeat Measure K, giving $50,000 to a campaign against the measure that would require the top two candidates emerging from the city’s June primary elections to face off against each other in the November general contest. Under current election law, a candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary is automatically elected, saving the Chamber PAC and its ally against Measure K, the GOP Lincoln Club, the expense of paying for another campaign in the fall.
But others in business are backing the proposal, including Manpower San Diego, the temporary employment company run by Mel Katz and Phil Blair, that gave $25,000 to the pro-K forces on September 29. Another backer is attorney Candace Carroll, with $10,000 on September 23. In addition, the United Domestic Workers Issues PAC contributed $50,000 on September 19.
The board of directors of San Diego State University’s big-money Campanile Foundation has treated itself to a genteel retreat to the posh La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. After an “All American Breakfast” on the club dining patio, the group headed indoors to take up an agenda including the issues of food and booze in the Spanos V.I.P. suite at city-owned Qualcomm Stadium under the reign of new stadium vendor Delaware North.