North County Solutions for Change, a self-styled homeless housing group, got $250,000 from the Issa Family Foundation
Ex-House Republican Darrell Issa, seeking this fall to reclaim a congressional seat in a new district, has a potent political weapon in his arsenal called the Issa Family Foundation, which he runs with his wife, Katharine. As of the end of 2018, the charity had a total net worth of $26,292,536, according to a May 2019 federal disclosure filing, paying out $1,276,479 in contributions and grants. The foundation gave much of its cash to local charities, including the top donation recipient, North County Solutions for Change, a self-styled homeless housing group, which got $250,000. In November of last year, Solutions for Change employee Cynthia Schopen accused the non-profit of sending workers to Oceanside city hall to lobby on behalf of North River Farms, a controversial development by Solutions for Change mega-donor Integral Communities. “We got an email to the staff to drop everything for the rest of the day,” Schopen told the Union-Tribune. “I was nervous about it, because I had a lot to do.” The charity said to workers that the purpose of the activity was “to court a donor who gives us a lot of money,” according to Schopen. Those seeking to opt out of the political activity should “look for another job.” Added the U-T’s account: “The Solutions group was provided with bus transportation, pizza, and green “Yes on NRF” T-shirts and signs by the developer. They arrived well before the council meeting and took many of the seats in the front and center rows, which forced opponents to sit outside the crowded room.”
Nothing makes Darrell Issa smile like a potent political weapon.
Schopen said she quit a few days later. Said Solutions for Change chief Chris Megison to the paper: “We do not force (anyone) to go to these meetings.”
Another group backed by the Lebanese American Issa’s foundation was the American Task Force for Lebanon, with $25,000. Last April, the task force gave Trump administration Health and Human Services Agency chief Alex Azar, who is also of Lebanese heritage, and GOP House member Darin LaHood, its achiever of the year awards. Also, Israel Today Ministries got $2000 from Issa’s non-profit.
“Orthodox rabbis and Evangelical Christians equally believe that the world is on the cusp of the Battle of Armageddon and that ‘we are about to see the Messiah,’” the group’s founder and leader, the Rev. Jeff Johnson, told the Jerusalem Post last September. The bond between Jews and Christians, said Johnson, is the belief in a war “in which Israel will battle a coalition led by Persia, which is considered today to be Iran, and through this battle the messiah will come.”
Tasers of influence
A big-money lobbying campaign on behalf of a “conducted energy weapons” maker has begun at San Diego’s city hall. As first reported here last week, San Diego cops are looking to buy up to 1200 more of the devices to add to and replace an already impressive stock of over 1500 of the weapons, commonly called tasers. “The City of San Diego’s Police Department uses Conducted Energy Weapons as a force option that is intended to temporarily immobilize subjects to enable officers to gain control over them,” per an invitation to bid issued by the city March 6. “When the probes make contact with the target, approximately 1200-2500 volts of electricity pass between the probes affecting the person’s sensory and motor nervous systems, capable of causing temporary immobilization.”
Bob White, mayoral aide turned lobbyist, loves that taser money.
Scottsdale, Arizona-based Axon, which makes tasers, has hired the well-connected San Diego influence-peddling outfit of California Strategies, founded by one-time Pete Wilson mayoral aide Bob White. The company will lobby for “City Council and Mayoral approval of contract with Client, reviewing and enhancing the Client’s servicers for TASER weapon systems. Axon body-worn officer cameras, and related digital evidence management systems and supporting services.”
Real estate developers, who in years past were principal cash backers of the San Diego Republican Party, have diverted a chunk of their financial support to the local Democratic Party, the most recent monthly disclosure of federal party committees has revealed. On January 23, residential building giant Pardee came up with $10,000 for local Democrats. The day before XJD, LLC of Beverly Hills, run by Michael Schlesinger — the big-bucks GOP Lincoln Club backer famous for his years-long battle over the controversial development of a golf course in Escondido — kicked in the same. Labor unions were still a major donor, with $10,000 received from San Diego Works on January 23. Developer and Democrat Scott Canel of Highland Park, Illinois, gave $5000 on January 5. In all, the committee took in $89,076 between January 12 and February 28, per the filing, well short of the $135,454 received by the Republican committee during the same period, according to the disclosures. $10,000 donors to the GOP included hedge fund manager Nick Stone, the originator of the now-defunct Soccer City proposal to take over the former Qualcomm Stadium; J. Neal Blue, owner of drone-maker General Atomics; Louisiana steel fabrication kingpin Bruce Barlett of Rancho Santa Fe and wife Patricia; and Laura Nelson of Poway’s Cass Construction.