Sempra Energy gave $10,000 to the so-called ballot measure committee run by Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez.
Gonzalez tithes to Dems
With election day fast approaching, last-minute special interest money has been flowing into local legislators’ campaign funds and officeholder accounts. On September 14, according to disclosure filings with the California Secretary of State’s office, Sempra Energy gave $10,000 to the so-called ballot measure committee run by Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, who is married to county supervisor Nathan Fletcher. The same day, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Committee came up with $25,000. On August 25, the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California PAC gave the same.
Lorena Gonzalez: fundraising machine
September 14 was also a busy day for Gonzalez’s Assembly reelection committee, with a total of $30,000 rolling in from a variety of donors, including the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ($4700) and the California Teachers Association for Better Citizenship ($9300). SmileDirectClub LLC, a tele-dentistry provider, kicked in $4700. In turn, Gonzalez routed $5000 of the cash to the San Diego County Democratic Party on September 15. She had previously given the same amount to local Democrats on August 21 and is viewed as likely to keep up the giving until election day.
Ben’s pharma bucks
Ben Hueso, running for a seat on the San Diego county Board of Supervisors, has gathered a total of $4200 for his so-called officeholder account from September donors: $1000 each from the California Independent Telephone PAC, California Professional Firefighters PAC, and T-Mobile USA. Washington lobbyist Derek Naten, a vice president at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, gave $1200. Mallinckrodt, formerly known as Questcor Pharmaceuticals, allegedly bribed doctors and their staff members to hike sales of H.P. Acthar Gel, costing the federal government millions of dollars, according to two company whistleblowers, CNN reported last year.
Ben Hueso dropped over a grand on a “staff retreat” at Puesto restaurant.
A Mallinckrodt subsidiary played a key role in distributing the controversial addictive pain medication oxycodone, per a July 27, 2019 Washington Post account. Mallinckrodt’s generic drug unit faced bankruptcy from the fallout, says a FiercePharma account of this February 25. Hueso has tapped his officeholder account, filings show, for such expenses as a $480 Airbnb stay in Los Angeles and another one for $340 in Mexico, both in October of last year. A December 2, 2019, staff retreat at Puesto restaurant near Seaport Village cost $1163.
Hueso campaign consultant Julie Sandino of Sacramento picked up a total of $12,731. Verizon Wireless bills ran $2730 from April 2019 through June 24 of this year.
UCSD cash and carry
2019 salary numbers for UCSD employees have just been released, showing 19 workers made annual gross pay of more than a million dollars. At the top of the list is cardiologist Ehtisham Mahmud with $1.772 million, followed by Michael Madani, another heart doctor, with $1.658 million, and ophthalmologist Robert Weinreb, with $1.577 million. Patty Maysent, chief executive of UC San Diego Health, made the number eleven spot with $1.196 million. By comparison, UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla was earning challenged, bringing in a total of just $491,442. Head basketball coach Eric Olen got only $163,291, but that was better than Heidi VanDerveer, head women’s hoops coach, with $131,646, barely beating out men’s water polo coach Dennis Harper at $131,275. A bit more up the ladder were those who included noted geoscientist Shang-Ping Xie at $318,000. On the other hand, vice chancellor David Brenner got a handsome $844,312. This past March, Brenner abruptly dropped his bid to become president of the University of Central Florida, declining to say what caused his abrupt change of heart.
Streetlight home security
Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer has turned off police access to the 3200 or so video surveillance cameras he ordered up for San Diego streetlights two years ago. But continued intelligence gathering may still be in the city’s future, judging from a September 14 request for would-be vendor proposals to run something called the Regional Cyber Innovation Lab. “The presence of an Innovation Lab in the San Diego region will enhance existing capabilities of local agencies and private sector partners by sharing access to cutting-edge cyber security tools and will create a safe, reliable information sharing environment for the region,” says the document. Federal taxpayers are footing the bill. “The Innovation Lab project has been initiated as a direct result of the award of a Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative grant award.” Beyond that, project details are scarce. Data gathered by contractors, including “video recordings,” will be the “sole property of City.” According to a February 14, 2020, news release by the Homeland Security Department, the program’s money “is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.”
— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)
The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.