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Toni Atkins moves her special-interest lieutenant governor cash to governor race

Todd Gloria's interesting donor Cappy McGarr

Back in November 2009, Cappy McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
Back in November 2009, Cappy McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Moralist in disguise?

Cappy McGarr, a big-spending hedge fund insider from Dallas, Texas, is among those who’ve kicked in the maximum $1350 for incumbent Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria’s re-election bid. (McGarr has lived part-time in La Jolla, per the La Jolla Light.) “An investment banker and Democratic fundraiser, McGarr “served twice on the Kennedy Center’s board and, in 1998, co-created its Mark Twain Prize for American Humor,” according to an October 25, 2021 profile by the Washingtonian. “The one who said no, I think, three or four times has been Mel Brooks,” McGarr told the magazine regarding the annual prize. “He’s 95, so I don’t think we have the opportunity to honor him. But if he called, we would do a special ceremony for him. 

Cappy McGarr, fan of humor and Chinese manufacturing.

We have a long list of really funny people we have not honored, whether it be Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock.” Per the profile, “In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton appointed McGarr to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts board of trustees for a six-year term. McGarr co-founded the Twain award in 1998, and he was reappointed to the board in 2011 by then-President Barack Obama.” 

But back in November 2009, McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. “This project should not receive a dime of stimulus funds unless it relies on American-built products rather than Chinese turbines,” Schumer wrote in a letter to then Obama Administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu cited by the Dallas Morning News. “This is exactly what stimulus funding ought to do: create and strengthen green manufacturing jobs in America, even if that slightly slows renewable energy production as we play catch-up to countries like China,” Schumer added. “We still maintain no stimulus money should be used to manufacture wind turbines in China.” 

Said Schumer in a Reuters dispatch of November 5, 2009: “While the project is anticipated to generate as many as 3000 jobs in Shenyang, China ... its job impact in the United States would be roughly one-tenth that amount.” Less than a year later, after it cut a deal with the United Steel Workers union, China’s A-Power Energy Generation Systems announced it would make the wind turbines in Nevada, per a March 19, 2010 dispatch by Green Tech Media. “Just so no one misses the historic significance of this announcement, this is a Chinese manufacturer building a factory in the U.S. to supply equipment to a power provider largely funded and managed by Chinese companies.” McGarr’s mother-in-law was Annette Strauss, a onetime Dallas mayor whose brother-in-law was Texas Democratic dealmaker Robert Strauss.

Toni’s big change

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Having collected more than $2 million to run for California lieutenant governor in 2026, San Diego state Senate Democrat Toni Atkins has changed course and is now running for governor. On January 19, Atkins transferred a cool $2,033,136.22 from her lieutenant governor campaign account to her newly formed Toni Atkins for Governor 2026 committee, shutting down the former. Much of the lucre was collected from special interests, including Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation & Affiliated Entities, with $5000 on May 23, 2023 and the same from Sempra Energy on October 24, 2023. The year before, she picked up $8100 from the California Apartment Association PAC on April 26.

Zosa’s dirty birds

A former government relations director for Republican ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer has come up with $1350 for the reelection of current San Diego mayoral Democrat Todd Gloria. Patrick Bouteller, a longtime GOP city hall hand now with Arena Public Affairs, made the contribution on August 19, per the Gloria campaign’s recent financial disclosure for the second half of last year. Back in 2019, Bouteller’s name showed up as recipient on an email pitch by Republican then-council candidate Noli Zosa, proprietor of Dirty Birds restaurants, to Faulconer-hired city officials. Recipients also included Francis Barraza, Senior Director of Community Engagement for Faulconer, and Michelle Porras, director of the mayor’s scheduling. 

Noli Zosa: Dirty Birds proprietor ruled not really that dirty.

“On June 30, I am facing my first big campaign fundraising deadline,” wrote Zosa in his electronic missive, according to city records obtained by the campaign of Zosa’s opponent Raul Campillo, who was subsequently elected. “It’s very important for campaigns to show financial strength on this day, so I am emailing you to ask if you can help me reach my fundraising goal. Any amount will help — $25, $50, $100, $250, or the maximum $600 would be truly appreciated.” In November 2020 Zosa was sanctioned by the city’s Ethics Commission with a $500 fine for illegally hitting up city officials for money. 

“Between May 2019 and October 2019, the [Zosa] Committee sent 164 emails to City employees (at their sandiego.gov email addresses),” said Zosa’s stipulated agreement with the commission. “The emails included invitations to fundraisers (some with minimum or suggested donation amounts), a link to the Committee’s online donation page, and/or a link to a printable invitation, including a hard copy donation form.” according to the commission document. “Of the 12 employees who received the emails, two donated to Respondent’s campaign.” Zosa returned the money and “fully cooperated” with the commission’s investigation, the stipulation went on to say, justifying the small penalty fine. 

— 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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Back in November 2009, Cappy McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
Back in November 2009, Cappy McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Moralist in disguise?

Cappy McGarr, a big-spending hedge fund insider from Dallas, Texas, is among those who’ve kicked in the maximum $1350 for incumbent Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria’s re-election bid. (McGarr has lived part-time in La Jolla, per the La Jolla Light.) “An investment banker and Democratic fundraiser, McGarr “served twice on the Kennedy Center’s board and, in 1998, co-created its Mark Twain Prize for American Humor,” according to an October 25, 2021 profile by the Washingtonian. “The one who said no, I think, three or four times has been Mel Brooks,” McGarr told the magazine regarding the annual prize. “He’s 95, so I don’t think we have the opportunity to honor him. But if he called, we would do a special ceremony for him. 

Cappy McGarr, fan of humor and Chinese manufacturing.

We have a long list of really funny people we have not honored, whether it be Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock.” Per the profile, “In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton appointed McGarr to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts board of trustees for a six-year term. McGarr co-founded the Twain award in 1998, and he was reappointed to the board in 2011 by then-President Barack Obama.” 

But back in November 2009, McGarr ran into opposition from Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer over a plan to bring a Chinese-backed $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind energy farm to West Texas, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. “This project should not receive a dime of stimulus funds unless it relies on American-built products rather than Chinese turbines,” Schumer wrote in a letter to then Obama Administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu cited by the Dallas Morning News. “This is exactly what stimulus funding ought to do: create and strengthen green manufacturing jobs in America, even if that slightly slows renewable energy production as we play catch-up to countries like China,” Schumer added. “We still maintain no stimulus money should be used to manufacture wind turbines in China.” 

Said Schumer in a Reuters dispatch of November 5, 2009: “While the project is anticipated to generate as many as 3000 jobs in Shenyang, China ... its job impact in the United States would be roughly one-tenth that amount.” Less than a year later, after it cut a deal with the United Steel Workers union, China’s A-Power Energy Generation Systems announced it would make the wind turbines in Nevada, per a March 19, 2010 dispatch by Green Tech Media. “Just so no one misses the historic significance of this announcement, this is a Chinese manufacturer building a factory in the U.S. to supply equipment to a power provider largely funded and managed by Chinese companies.” McGarr’s mother-in-law was Annette Strauss, a onetime Dallas mayor whose brother-in-law was Texas Democratic dealmaker Robert Strauss.

Toni’s big change

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Having collected more than $2 million to run for California lieutenant governor in 2026, San Diego state Senate Democrat Toni Atkins has changed course and is now running for governor. On January 19, Atkins transferred a cool $2,033,136.22 from her lieutenant governor campaign account to her newly formed Toni Atkins for Governor 2026 committee, shutting down the former. Much of the lucre was collected from special interests, including Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation & Affiliated Entities, with $5000 on May 23, 2023 and the same from Sempra Energy on October 24, 2023. The year before, she picked up $8100 from the California Apartment Association PAC on April 26.

Zosa’s dirty birds

A former government relations director for Republican ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer has come up with $1350 for the reelection of current San Diego mayoral Democrat Todd Gloria. Patrick Bouteller, a longtime GOP city hall hand now with Arena Public Affairs, made the contribution on August 19, per the Gloria campaign’s recent financial disclosure for the second half of last year. Back in 2019, Bouteller’s name showed up as recipient on an email pitch by Republican then-council candidate Noli Zosa, proprietor of Dirty Birds restaurants, to Faulconer-hired city officials. Recipients also included Francis Barraza, Senior Director of Community Engagement for Faulconer, and Michelle Porras, director of the mayor’s scheduling. 

Noli Zosa: Dirty Birds proprietor ruled not really that dirty.

“On June 30, I am facing my first big campaign fundraising deadline,” wrote Zosa in his electronic missive, according to city records obtained by the campaign of Zosa’s opponent Raul Campillo, who was subsequently elected. “It’s very important for campaigns to show financial strength on this day, so I am emailing you to ask if you can help me reach my fundraising goal. Any amount will help — $25, $50, $100, $250, or the maximum $600 would be truly appreciated.” In November 2020 Zosa was sanctioned by the city’s Ethics Commission with a $500 fine for illegally hitting up city officials for money. 

“Between May 2019 and October 2019, the [Zosa] Committee sent 164 emails to City employees (at their sandiego.gov email addresses),” said Zosa’s stipulated agreement with the commission. “The emails included invitations to fundraisers (some with minimum or suggested donation amounts), a link to the Committee’s online donation page, and/or a link to a printable invitation, including a hard copy donation form.” according to the commission document. “Of the 12 employees who received the emails, two donated to Respondent’s campaign.” Zosa returned the money and “fully cooperated” with the commission’s investigation, the stipulation went on to say, justifying the small penalty fine. 

— 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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