Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
The ghosts of two of San Diego's most controversial real estate moguls live on among the ranks of September San Diego donors to the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns.
Son of a San Diego bootlegger and brother of a notorious high-stakes gambler and Mafia associate, Irvin Kahn was a lawyer, taxi-company lobbyist, and onetime part owner of the San Diego Padres who in the mid-1950s became the city's biggest developer, at one point said to control 25 percent of San Diego's private real estate, including hotels on Shelter Island, a Clairemont shopping center, 4400 acres of University City, and the sprawling Peñasquitos ranch.
Jimmy Hoffa and his son
Library of Congress photo
When money got tight in 1964 and city planners questioned the size and impacts of the project, Kahn turned to Jimmy Hoffa's International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund to help him bail out his 14,000-acre Peñasquitos spread.
"The deals were arranged by Kahn's new partner, Missouri-based Morris Shenker, a Hoffa lawyer whom FBI agent Bill Roemer characterized as the 'front man for the St. Louis Mob,’" writes Mike Davis in 2003's Under the Perfect Sun, the San Diego Tourists Never See.
"One of Kahn's last ventures was his partnership with Shenker in the mob-funded Dunes Casino-Hotel in Las Vegas," Davis continues, "where FBI wiretaps once overheard godfather Joey Lombardo (a future suspect in the murder of the Teamsters’ Allen Dorfman) reminding Shenker ‘where he belongs’ (to the mob) and warning him that he wouldn't live another year if he forgot that."
Notes Davis, "Kahn himself died young at fifty-seven in 1973.... Most of his empire soon reverted to Shenker and the Teamsters."
These days, Kahn's son Sandy, who once sought appointment to the job of United States Marshal here, giving $250 to the 1992 presidential bid of Democrat Bill Clinton, is a Donald Trump backer, with a $2700 contribution on September 14.
Earlier in the campaign season, Kahn gave a total of $1660 for the presidential cause of Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio. A longtime GOP donor, Kahn backed San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer with $5300. Faulconer subsequently endorsed the ultimately failed Rubio effort.
Another county Trump donor is Solana Beach’s Barry Nussbaum, also with $2700 on September 14. His website features videos of Nussbaum praising Trump and running mate Mike Pence.
In September 2011, Nussbaum was caught up in a controversy over $3748 worth of free tickets to concerts by Bruno Mars, Willie Nelson, Melissa Etheridge, Doobie Brothers, Travis Tritt, and Beach Boys that he received as a member of the Del Mar fair board, according to a Union-Tribune report.
Weighing in on the Democratic side of the San Diego political ledger last month was Shelia Davis, widow of M. Larry Lawrence, like Irvin Kahn another controversial San Diego real estate mogul.
According to data posted online by the Federal Election Commission, Davis, listed as president of Libellule Enterprises in San Diego, gave the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign fund $2700 on September 30.
During the sex scandals of the Bill Clinton era, Davis — referred to as Jane Doe 7 — turned up in a transcript of a deposition taken of the president regarding Clintoniangoings-on at Lawrence's Hotel del Coronado.
"Now, have you ever spent the night at a home owned by Jane Doe 7 when your wife was not with you?” was a question posed to Clinton during the March 1998 session.
Replied the president, "I believe I did once. I believe, I believe I did. I do not remember for sure. I believe I stayed there once when she was not with me.”
Continued an inquisitive lawyer, "On that occasion did you have sexual relations with Jane Doe 7?”
Said Clinton, “Absolutely not.”
Asked the lawyer, "Did you ever attend a party at the Hotel del Coronado which was attended by Jane Doe 7?”
Responded the president, "She and her husband owned the hotel, and I went to several events there, and I think they were there for most of the events I attended.”
Queried the attorney, “On any of those occasions were you in one of the rooms of the hotel alone with her?”
Said Clinton, “I don’t believe so.”
Arianna Huffington, then a conservative columnist, was later sued by Davis for saying that Davis had slept with Clinton. The case was later settled out of court.
Lawrence, a big-time Bill Clinton donor, was named by the Democratic president to be U.S. ambassador to Switzerland. After his death at age 69 in January 1996, he was buried at Arlington Cemetery but was disinterred the next year after it came to light he had fabricated his war record.
Another well-known local Hillary Clinton donor last month was Deepak Chopra, the alternative medicine advocate and guru to the stars who gave $2700 on September 15.
In all, Clinton remained ahead of Trump last month among San Diego political donors, collecting a total of $574,445 to Trump's $168,736.