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Nora Vargas attackers under sex harassment shadows

California mayors Falconer, Garcetti, Breed, Schaff hide behind charities

In July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Mark Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman.
In July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Mark Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman.

Hit piece late fees

In what appears to be a much-belated post-election payoff, two Los Angeles-area Democrats forced from office amid sexual harassment scandals came up with big money in 2021 for a 2020 campaign committee that attacked San Diego County supervisor Nora Vargas.

Harraser handouts couldn’t drag Nora Vargas down.

Capstone Consulting, run by ex-Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra of Pacoima, who quit the legislature in November 2017, gave a total of $25,001 in October, November, and December of 2021 to a campaign committee calling itself San Diegans for Good Government Opposing Nora Vargas for Supervisor 2020.

In addition to Bocanegra, CoAction Strategies, operated by Mark Lomeli, a former legislative employee who quit his job as chief of staff to Assembly Democrat Mark Gipson in 2018, gave $4000 to the anti-Vargas group on October 18, 2021. Bocanegra resigned from the Assembly in the wake of a November 20, 2017 Los Angeles Times account in which six women alleged unwelcome physical advances. And in July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman. “The investigation determined that he ‘more likely than not’ grabbed her buttocks, inappropriately touched her body, and made unwelcome comments about her physical appearance,” the Times reported on August 9, 2019. “The records say that on April 12, 2018, a woman told human resources that Lomeli ‘grabbed [her] breasts, vagina, buttocks, and pushed his penis area’ on her in a sexual assault that had occurred two years earlier, on May 4, 2016.”

In addition to Bocanegra and Lomeli, other 2021 givers to the anti-Vargas 2020 campaign fund included Stuttgart’s Auto Collision Center of Downey ($13,500 in July and August), and JLE Broker, Inc. of Southgate ($8500 on July 29). Applied Solutions of Los Angeles gave $3250 on August 31. In all, the 2020 committee began 2021 with $3705 and took in $54,251 during last year, according to a January 17, 2022, campaign filing. The group’s spending totaled $57,955, most of which finally paid off 302 Communications Group of Sacramento, a consulting firm that produced the 2020 anti-Vargas pieces.

Ironically, considering the ultimate identity of the campaign donors, a mailer by the anti-Vargas committee during 2020’s general election campaign alleged she had “helped cover up sexual harassment and let predators walk away.” It cited a 2019 Voice of San Diego item saying that Southwestern College in Chula Vista, where Vargas had been a trustee, agreed to allow an accused professor to “quietly resign.” Despite the hit pieces, Vargas beat her opponent, state Senator Ben Hueso, with 56.6 of the votes to win election to the Board of Supervisors in the November 3, 2020 race. Hueso is now running against fellow Democrat Mike Schaefer for a seat on the state Board of Equalization. Schaefer currently holds the spot.

Turkey of a charity

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission is out with its 2022 Behesting Transparency Report, and a famous San Diego name ranks high on the list of California politicos using their offices to solicit corporate interests for their favorite nonprofits. Number four on the top five so-called behesting officials of 2020 is Republican ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer, who the FPPC says raised $1,466,528. That’s considerably shy of number one, Los Angeles Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti, who raked in $26,228,460.

Kevin Faulconer didn’t gobble up nearly as much as mayors from LA and SF.

(Number two was Oakland mayor Libby Schaff with $21,739,062, and in third place came San Francisco mayor London Breed, with $10,188,842.) Many Faulconer-solicited dollars went to his now-defunct charity, One San Diego, which held well-televised annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in poorer parts of the city. Much of Garcetti’s money went into his controversial Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. “The real problem is that the mayor is raising, through his staff, big amounts of money for the nonprofit, and he’s getting credit for it,” Bob Stern, ex-FPPC general counsel, told the L.A. Times last month...

Now that ex-San Diego city council Democrat and mayoral candidate David Alvarez has declared his run for the 80th Assembly District seat vacated by fellow Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, eyes are turning to his lobbying practice. Called Causa Consulting, Alvarez’s influence-peddling company currently represents Kilroy Realty of Los Angeles, Bird Scooter, and ReConnect Logan, “a community nonprofit group seeking to build a freeway lid over Interstate 5 in Barrio Logan.” The outcome sought, according to a January 14 filing: “We will try to identify any city opportunities to help study and plan for the construction of a freeway lid or cap over the 5 freeway with park, recreation, and affordable housing.”...Mega beer maker Anheuser Busch Companies is the latest to fund San Diego Democrat and state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins’s 2026 campaign for Lieutenant Governor, with $8100 on January 10.

— 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/.

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In July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Mark Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman.
In July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Mark Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman.

Hit piece late fees

In what appears to be a much-belated post-election payoff, two Los Angeles-area Democrats forced from office amid sexual harassment scandals came up with big money in 2021 for a 2020 campaign committee that attacked San Diego County supervisor Nora Vargas.

Harraser handouts couldn’t drag Nora Vargas down.

Capstone Consulting, run by ex-Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra of Pacoima, who quit the legislature in November 2017, gave a total of $25,001 in October, November, and December of 2021 to a campaign committee calling itself San Diegans for Good Government Opposing Nora Vargas for Supervisor 2020.

In addition to Bocanegra, CoAction Strategies, operated by Mark Lomeli, a former legislative employee who quit his job as chief of staff to Assembly Democrat Mark Gipson in 2018, gave $4000 to the anti-Vargas group on October 18, 2021. Bocanegra resigned from the Assembly in the wake of a November 20, 2017 Los Angeles Times account in which six women alleged unwelcome physical advances. And in July 2019, the Assembly Rules Committee upheld accusations of inappropriate behavior against Lomeli brought by an unidentified woman. “The investigation determined that he ‘more likely than not’ grabbed her buttocks, inappropriately touched her body, and made unwelcome comments about her physical appearance,” the Times reported on August 9, 2019. “The records say that on April 12, 2018, a woman told human resources that Lomeli ‘grabbed [her] breasts, vagina, buttocks, and pushed his penis area’ on her in a sexual assault that had occurred two years earlier, on May 4, 2016.”

In addition to Bocanegra and Lomeli, other 2021 givers to the anti-Vargas 2020 campaign fund included Stuttgart’s Auto Collision Center of Downey ($13,500 in July and August), and JLE Broker, Inc. of Southgate ($8500 on July 29). Applied Solutions of Los Angeles gave $3250 on August 31. In all, the 2020 committee began 2021 with $3705 and took in $54,251 during last year, according to a January 17, 2022, campaign filing. The group’s spending totaled $57,955, most of which finally paid off 302 Communications Group of Sacramento, a consulting firm that produced the 2020 anti-Vargas pieces.

Ironically, considering the ultimate identity of the campaign donors, a mailer by the anti-Vargas committee during 2020’s general election campaign alleged she had “helped cover up sexual harassment and let predators walk away.” It cited a 2019 Voice of San Diego item saying that Southwestern College in Chula Vista, where Vargas had been a trustee, agreed to allow an accused professor to “quietly resign.” Despite the hit pieces, Vargas beat her opponent, state Senator Ben Hueso, with 56.6 of the votes to win election to the Board of Supervisors in the November 3, 2020 race. Hueso is now running against fellow Democrat Mike Schaefer for a seat on the state Board of Equalization. Schaefer currently holds the spot.

Turkey of a charity

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission is out with its 2022 Behesting Transparency Report, and a famous San Diego name ranks high on the list of California politicos using their offices to solicit corporate interests for their favorite nonprofits. Number four on the top five so-called behesting officials of 2020 is Republican ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer, who the FPPC says raised $1,466,528. That’s considerably shy of number one, Los Angeles Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti, who raked in $26,228,460.

Kevin Faulconer didn’t gobble up nearly as much as mayors from LA and SF.

(Number two was Oakland mayor Libby Schaff with $21,739,062, and in third place came San Francisco mayor London Breed, with $10,188,842.) Many Faulconer-solicited dollars went to his now-defunct charity, One San Diego, which held well-televised annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in poorer parts of the city. Much of Garcetti’s money went into his controversial Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. “The real problem is that the mayor is raising, through his staff, big amounts of money for the nonprofit, and he’s getting credit for it,” Bob Stern, ex-FPPC general counsel, told the L.A. Times last month...

Now that ex-San Diego city council Democrat and mayoral candidate David Alvarez has declared his run for the 80th Assembly District seat vacated by fellow Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, eyes are turning to his lobbying practice. Called Causa Consulting, Alvarez’s influence-peddling company currently represents Kilroy Realty of Los Angeles, Bird Scooter, and ReConnect Logan, “a community nonprofit group seeking to build a freeway lid over Interstate 5 in Barrio Logan.” The outcome sought, according to a January 14 filing: “We will try to identify any city opportunities to help study and plan for the construction of a freeway lid or cap over the 5 freeway with park, recreation, and affordable housing.”...Mega beer maker Anheuser Busch Companies is the latest to fund San Diego Democrat and state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins’s 2026 campaign for Lieutenant Governor, with $8100 on January 10.

— 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/.

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Comments
1

David Alvarez lobbies for Bird scooters and Kilroy developers? What happened to his goody-two-shoes work as a community "activist" and representative for working-class barrio Latinos? Alvarez has an equally "flexible" opponent in Georgette Gomez who is also running for Assembly, so either one will fit right in with the San Diego County posse up in Sac. I hope Lorena Gonzalez refrains from endorsing in this race to the bottom.

Jan. 26, 2022

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