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Mystery lurks behind Chargers latest $1 million campaign cash

Newly created Delaware limited liability company fronts big money for downtown stadium push

Longtime Chargers executive Jeanne Bonk — currently the team's chief operating officer — is the new LLC's registered agent, according to state records.
Longtime Chargers executive Jeanne Bonk — currently the team's chief operating officer — is the new LLC's registered agent, according to state records.

While San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer continues to dally about whether he will support or oppose a new tax-subsidized stadium for the Chargers, the team is upping the ante for the politically ambitious Republican by plunking another $1 million in cash into its drive toward the November election.

But the latest political big-money contribution comes with a mysterious twist.

Rendition of proposed downtown stadium

City campaign disclosure filings show that the "Yes on C" effort received funds on September 1 from a Chargers "affiliated entity," Sports, Entertainment, and Tourism, LLC.

California corporate disclosure records show that the limited liability company was registered in the state of Delaware on July 5, raising fresh questions about who else besides the Chargers-owning Spanos family may be helping the team in its efforts to either get San Diego city taxpayers to finance a new $1.8 billion downtown stadium and meeting complex or depart for hustings as yet unrevealed.

The new LLC has “no other members, it is owned by the Chargers,” said team special counsel Mark Fabiani in a September 2 email. He did not respond to questions about the reasons for setting up the new entity in the middle of the stadium campaign.

$3,008,829 in prior backing for the venue initiative effort, according to filings with the city clerk's office, came directly from Chargers Football Company, LLC, through which the team's ownership is reportedly held by the wealthy Spanos family of Stockton, California. Of the $3 million and change, $750,000 was booked as a loan to the campaign committee; as of June 30, according to an August 1 filing, it had not yet been repaid.

Sports, Entertainment, and Tourism, LLC's registered agent is listed in state records as Jeanne Bonk, a longtime Chargers executive who is currently the team's chief operating officer, but the California registration provides no other details regarding the entity.

City campaign law ostensibly requires that the identity of all major donors to municipal campaigns be fully disclosed, but loopholes of many kinds, legal and otherwise, have been exploited in the past.

A key example is the federal case against José Susumo Azano Matsura, now in the hands of the jury, in which the wealthy Mexican national funneled financial backing to the cause of district attorney Bonnie Dumanis through an entity called Airsam N492RM, LLC.

Susumo also allegedly worked through a limited liability company called South Beach Acquisitions, LLC, to route $120,000 to a committee backing Bob Filner for mayor.

The firm's owner was later revealed to be La Jolla luxury-car dealer Marc Alan Chase — coincidentally a purveyor of flashy vehicles to Chargers players — who subsequently pled guilty to eight campaign counts, "including conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national, and making a conduit or 'straw' contribution in connection with a federal campaign," according to an April 2014 FBI news release.

"Chase confessed to helping make a series of donations by Azano, a foreign national who by law cannot provide financing to American political campaigns. In addition, Chase admitted to facilitating a conduit contribution in connection with a federal campaign — which is illegal even if the source is a citizen."

Added the bureau, “In acknowledging his participation in the conspiracy, Chase admitted that he acted to cover up the illegal activity, ensuring that Azano’s name did not appear in any public record or filing.”

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Longtime Chargers executive Jeanne Bonk — currently the team's chief operating officer — is the new LLC's registered agent, according to state records.
Longtime Chargers executive Jeanne Bonk — currently the team's chief operating officer — is the new LLC's registered agent, according to state records.

While San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer continues to dally about whether he will support or oppose a new tax-subsidized stadium for the Chargers, the team is upping the ante for the politically ambitious Republican by plunking another $1 million in cash into its drive toward the November election.

But the latest political big-money contribution comes with a mysterious twist.

Rendition of proposed downtown stadium

City campaign disclosure filings show that the "Yes on C" effort received funds on September 1 from a Chargers "affiliated entity," Sports, Entertainment, and Tourism, LLC.

California corporate disclosure records show that the limited liability company was registered in the state of Delaware on July 5, raising fresh questions about who else besides the Chargers-owning Spanos family may be helping the team in its efforts to either get San Diego city taxpayers to finance a new $1.8 billion downtown stadium and meeting complex or depart for hustings as yet unrevealed.

The new LLC has “no other members, it is owned by the Chargers,” said team special counsel Mark Fabiani in a September 2 email. He did not respond to questions about the reasons for setting up the new entity in the middle of the stadium campaign.

$3,008,829 in prior backing for the venue initiative effort, according to filings with the city clerk's office, came directly from Chargers Football Company, LLC, through which the team's ownership is reportedly held by the wealthy Spanos family of Stockton, California. Of the $3 million and change, $750,000 was booked as a loan to the campaign committee; as of June 30, according to an August 1 filing, it had not yet been repaid.

Sports, Entertainment, and Tourism, LLC's registered agent is listed in state records as Jeanne Bonk, a longtime Chargers executive who is currently the team's chief operating officer, but the California registration provides no other details regarding the entity.

City campaign law ostensibly requires that the identity of all major donors to municipal campaigns be fully disclosed, but loopholes of many kinds, legal and otherwise, have been exploited in the past.

A key example is the federal case against José Susumo Azano Matsura, now in the hands of the jury, in which the wealthy Mexican national funneled financial backing to the cause of district attorney Bonnie Dumanis through an entity called Airsam N492RM, LLC.

Susumo also allegedly worked through a limited liability company called South Beach Acquisitions, LLC, to route $120,000 to a committee backing Bob Filner for mayor.

The firm's owner was later revealed to be La Jolla luxury-car dealer Marc Alan Chase — coincidentally a purveyor of flashy vehicles to Chargers players — who subsequently pled guilty to eight campaign counts, "including conspiracy, aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national, and making a conduit or 'straw' contribution in connection with a federal campaign," according to an April 2014 FBI news release.

"Chase confessed to helping make a series of donations by Azano, a foreign national who by law cannot provide financing to American political campaigns. In addition, Chase admitted to facilitating a conduit contribution in connection with a federal campaign — which is illegal even if the source is a citizen."

Added the bureau, “In acknowledging his participation in the conspiracy, Chase admitted that he acted to cover up the illegal activity, ensuring that Azano’s name did not appear in any public record or filing.”

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Comments
4

The Chargers are increasingly desperate, as they want nothing to do with being a tenant of Stan Kroenke in the Rams stadium being built in Inglewood--even though the Chargers claim they have a great deal with Kroenke.

Sept. 2, 2016

Maybe the Chargers should be desperate to avoid becoming second fiddle in Inglewood, but it doesn't look that way. If they were desperate to avoid LA, they would have made a deal with Faulconer for a Mission Valley stadium. That deal would have been relatively easy compared to the impossibility of winning the convadium vote.

Sept. 2, 2016

Bonk's wig is only slightly more convincing than the one that "Goldy", the SD city attorney, wears. Some similarity?

Sept. 2, 2016

The Q is a great stadium and a great location. It does need some upgrades and cosmetic work but there is no better location. Where else can you tailgate? What other location is convenient to North, South and East County?

Sept. 3, 2016

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