What's a termed-out city councilwoman - or at least one whose reelection eligibility is being challenged in court - to do?
In the case of Second District Republican Lorie Zapf, she sets up a legal defense fund. Similar operations established by other council members have been traditionally paid for by special interests and lobbyists with business pending at city hall, and Zapf's track record suggests she will do the same.
The councilwoman's fundraising flag went up August 2 with the filing at the city clerk's office of the Lorie Zapf Legal Defense Fund. Her signature on the document is dated July 13. It was time-stamped by the California Secretary of State's office July 24.
The purpose of her fund, per Zapf's filing, is to raise money to pay fees for "defense of elections contest brought by unsuccessful candidate Bryan Pease," who filed suit, arguing that allowing Zapf to run for a third term because she was redistricted out of her original home district is an illegal loophole. She has been using San Francisco lawyer Jim Sutton, famous for his high-dollar election law practice.
Judge Peter Deddeh, son of champion political fundraiser Wadie Deddeh, a retired state legislator, tossed out Pease's case last month, but an appeal is promised, setting up a potentially costly legal contest for Zapf lasting well beyond November.
Zapf, a pivotal figure in the local Chamber of Commerce and GOP Lincoln Club's efforts to battle back against Democratic council encroachment in the second year of Trump, has already been the beneficiary of $130,000 from the two groups this year, along with about $140,000 she has raised from other donors to her campaign committee from January through the end of June, per city records.
As legal defense funds go, the largest in city history has been that of Democrat Myrtle Cole, who tapped an array of donors in coming up with a total of $41,300. The fund paid the Lawton Law Firm $34,500 for Cole's successful defense against a 2014 campaign libel case brought by defeated foe Dwayne Crenshaw, disclosure records say.
In beating Crenshaw's claims involving a Cole campaign hit piece against him, the councilwoman took cash from an array of developers and their associates, many with ties to Mission Valley, including Tom Sudberry, H.G. Fenton Inc., and architect Doug Austin, a member of the planning commission.
The second largest defense kitty was amassed by then-city councilman Ben Hueso, currently a member of the state senate, who collected $14,450 from donors after he was accused in a 2008 confidential ethics complaint of “Participation in Municipal Decision Involving Economic Interests." The case was dropped by the ethics commission before any details could see the light of day.
Hueso fund contributors included Republican Mission Valley hotel magnate Terry Brown and three associates, who came up with a total of $1500, and three employees of Global Premier Development of Irvine, with $1250. Sudberry gave $500, as did developer Roberto Walz of Rancho Santa Fe's Walz Properties. The Los Angeles firm of Strumwasser & Woocher was paid $7500 for legal services, with Carlos Castaneda getting $3600, records show.