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Sempra's last-minute money fueled anti-Bry hit campaign

Tortured trail of Democrats’ campaign cash leads to SDG&E's back door

Barbara Bry. Anti-Bry money from Sempra cam via the LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund.
Barbara Bry. Anti-Bry money from Sempra cam via the LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund.

A torrent of October campaign cash accompanying San Diego Gas & Electric's sole bid to remain the city's exclusive gas and electricity supplier for the next two decades is likely to carry the day for the Sempra Energy-owned utility, say skeptics of the proceedings.

Even Gloria's rejection late last Friday of the SDG&E bid still leaves some predicting the incumbent will be the ultimate winner, albeit with offering some potential financial sweeteners to help refill cash-starved city coffers in the wake of Covid-19.

"We are encouraged by Mayor Todd Gloria's swift and transparent action," said SDG&E in a short December 18 response to his rejection of the company’s bid. "We are committed to be part of a constructive path forward and stand ready to work collaboratively with the Mayor and City Council."

With the final say technically up to the city council, talk of a city takeover of the utility or a year-long extension of SDG&E's expiring 50-year deal to come up with fresh bidders is in the air.

But Sempra's cascade of campaign cash, which disclosures show ultimately benefited certain Democrats, including Todd Gloria, could strongly influence the outcome in favor of SDG&E. California campaign disclosure filings show that Sempra's contributions grew sizably in the weeks leading up to the November 3 election.

The San Diego County Democratic Party got $15,000 from Sempra on September 10, and the local party received $5000 more from Sempra on October 15, for a total of $20,000.

In turn, the county party became a significant source of campaign funding for hand-picked city council hopefuls, including Marni von Wilpert for City Council 2020 ($7935, October 14), Raul Campillo for City Council District 7 2020 ($1895, October 16 and $9068, October 6), and Steve Whitburn for City Council 2020 ($5661, October 6).

On October 15, Sempra kicked in $25,000 to the Sacramento-based LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund, which on October 1 gave $50,000 and on October 16 an additional $30,000, for a total of $80,000, to Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor 2020.

As previously reported, that group raised more than $1.3 million for a last-minute flurry of hit pieces against Gloria's foe and fellow Democrat Barbara Bry, linking her to the policies of Donald Trump and local elected Republicans.

San Diego Works, a political action committee run by the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council AFL CIO, that largely backs Democratic candidates, received $20,000 from Sempra on October 2. In turn, San Diego Works came up with $50,000 for Neighbors for Housing Solutions on October 26.

The San Diego County Regional Chamber of Commerce, whose PAC gave Neighbors for Housing Solutions $80,000 on September 29, got $10,000 from Sempra on October 9.

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Barbara Bry. Anti-Bry money from Sempra cam via the LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund.
Barbara Bry. Anti-Bry money from Sempra cam via the LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund.

A torrent of October campaign cash accompanying San Diego Gas & Electric's sole bid to remain the city's exclusive gas and electricity supplier for the next two decades is likely to carry the day for the Sempra Energy-owned utility, say skeptics of the proceedings.

Even Gloria's rejection late last Friday of the SDG&E bid still leaves some predicting the incumbent will be the ultimate winner, albeit with offering some potential financial sweeteners to help refill cash-starved city coffers in the wake of Covid-19.

"We are encouraged by Mayor Todd Gloria's swift and transparent action," said SDG&E in a short December 18 response to his rejection of the company’s bid. "We are committed to be part of a constructive path forward and stand ready to work collaboratively with the Mayor and City Council."

With the final say technically up to the city council, talk of a city takeover of the utility or a year-long extension of SDG&E's expiring 50-year deal to come up with fresh bidders is in the air.

But Sempra's cascade of campaign cash, which disclosures show ultimately benefited certain Democrats, including Todd Gloria, could strongly influence the outcome in favor of SDG&E. California campaign disclosure filings show that Sempra's contributions grew sizably in the weeks leading up to the November 3 election.

The San Diego County Democratic Party got $15,000 from Sempra on September 10, and the local party received $5000 more from Sempra on October 15, for a total of $20,000.

In turn, the county party became a significant source of campaign funding for hand-picked city council hopefuls, including Marni von Wilpert for City Council 2020 ($7935, October 14), Raul Campillo for City Council District 7 2020 ($1895, October 16 and $9068, October 6), and Steve Whitburn for City Council 2020 ($5661, October 6).

On October 15, Sempra kicked in $25,000 to the Sacramento-based LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund, which on October 1 gave $50,000 and on October 16 an additional $30,000, for a total of $80,000, to Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor 2020.

As previously reported, that group raised more than $1.3 million for a last-minute flurry of hit pieces against Gloria's foe and fellow Democrat Barbara Bry, linking her to the policies of Donald Trump and local elected Republicans.

San Diego Works, a political action committee run by the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council AFL CIO, that largely backs Democratic candidates, received $20,000 from Sempra on October 2. In turn, San Diego Works came up with $50,000 for Neighbors for Housing Solutions on October 26.

The San Diego County Regional Chamber of Commerce, whose PAC gave Neighbors for Housing Solutions $80,000 on September 29, got $10,000 from Sempra on October 9.

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Comments
1

Now that it seems that no Republican can vie for local political office, one method to take down a candidate is to tie him or her to some odious national figure. Trump was a perfect target for that sort of thing.

As to what Bry might have done differently than Glo has done already isn't at all clear, Kev-boy left this highly important matter for his successor to sort out, and there's not much reason to think he can handle it. We will all live with the effects of this license renewal for a long time. That is, if you reside in the city of San Diego. Other local cities are at least looking at alternative methods of delivering electrical service.

It should alarm everyone in the county that SDGE can and does dump massive funding into these political races. There "oughta be law" that prohibits it, but there isn't one. So, what did SDGE figure to accomplish by electing Glo instead of Bry? Would she have taken a strong stance against another twenty years of SDGE monopoly? I can't say. But there's gotta be a darned good reason that our public "utility" wanted him in and her out. Figure out what that is, and you are the local journalist of the year.

Dec. 21, 2020

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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