KUSI's Carlos Amezcua
Many of San Diego's biggest and most controversial special interests continue to give to One San Diego, the charity set up by Republican Kevin Faulconer, which among its good works pays for the free turkeys the mayor hands out before Thanksgiving in the city's poorer neighborhoods.
A foundation backed by private prison contractor GEO Group, which runs immigration detention centers across the country for the federal government's Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency kicked in $5000 on April 15. City records show that the company has given Faulconer's past campaigns for city council and mayor a total of $1750.
When it came to light last year that Democratic state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Democrat Todd Gloria had accepted a total of $5700 in campaign cash from GEO, both announced they would disgorge the funds to charity.
In addition to GEO, SA Recycling of Orange County gave $5000 on April 15. The scrap dealer is best known locally for a raging junkyard fire its Main Street facility in Barrio Logan suffered four years ago, sending plumes of toxic smoke into the neighborhood.
The mayor has long championed continued industrial development in the area and in 2014 led a big-money referendum drive that torpedoed a community plan opposed by neighboring shipyards and related enterprises. SA gave a total of $50,000 to that effort.
Other April 15 donations to One San Diego, according to a disclosure report filed by the mayor May 14, included $10,000 from Arkansas-based Walmart, and $5000 each from Alabama-based gravel pit developer Vulcan Materials Company, Scripps Mesa Developers, Mesa Canyon Community Partners, Mission Valley's Sudberry Family Trust, Regency Centers of Jacksonville, Florida, and GNT, LP. Pasadena's Alexandria Real Estate gave $10,000.
On May 3, Suffolk Construction of Boston contributed $5000, as did Orange County's Care Ambulance Service, which in May 2015 agreed along with four other ambulance companies to pay a combined $11.5 million fine to resolve 2009 federal kickback charges.
According to One San Diego's most recently available IRS disclosure filing, dated last May 21, during the year ending December 31, 2017, One San Diego collected $451,915 in total contributions, but made only $69,388 in grants, including $30,000 to the local Girl Scouts of America and $26,888 in "non-cash assistance" to the city's Park and Recreation Department.
Other One San Diego expenses, per the report, included $51,957 for "professional fundraising services," and $60,000 for an executive director. The fund's current executive director is Dena Disarro, according to its website. Says Disarro's online profile: "Previously, Dena spent 15 years applying her marketing and communications skills in various businesses from established international brands at Nestlé Food Company to new brands launching in Switzerland and San Diego."
Other expenses disclosed by the charity included $103,471 spent on unitemized "events and programs," and $1087 for parking. Each year in March, Faulconer and his wife, convention services provider Katherine Stuart, preside over a well-televised fundraising event that the non-profit calls a Neighborhood Experience block party on downtown's Broadway Pier.
This year’s master of ceremonies was KUSI TV anchorman Carlos Amezcua.