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Whether or not San Diego's city hall has been "bought off" by cable TV interests - as charged by Democratic Congressman and mayoral candidate Bob Filner during U-T San Diego columnist Matt Hall's Sunday protest rally against the unavailability of Padres games on local cable - may be in the eye of the beholder.

But, according to campaign finance disclosure records provided online by the San Diego city clerk, many employees of the city's big three cable TV providers, Cox Communications, Time Warner, and AT&T, have been extremely generous donors to the campaigns of lame duck GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, as well as members of the city council.

On April 25, 2006, records show, four Time Warner executives contributed a total of $1,100 to the political committee that had been created to fund Sanders's 2005 mayoral campaign, in which he narrowly beat Democratic city councilwoman Donna Frye.

In 2007 and 2008, employees of AT&T gave even more to the Sanders re-election fund. Twenty AT&T employees from various company divisions as far away as Texas kicked in a total of $5,470 for Sanders, who beat challenger Steve Francis in November 2008.

During the current election cycle, Bashar Bazzi, listed on disclosure reports as an AT&T system technician from El Cajon, gave the Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 committee $500 on June 20, 2011. He gave the same amount on December 7 of last year to another DeMaio controlled committee, Reforming City Hall with Carl DeMaio. Bazzi also chipped in $500 on November 8 of last year for city attorney Jan Goldsmith's 2012 unopposed re-election bid.

In addition to backing DeMaio, Bazzi contributed $500 to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, one of DeMaio's mayoral opponents, on June 28, 2011, records show.

AT&T Regional Vice President of External Affairs for San Diego Ignacio de la Torre, who also serves as chairman of the influential Downtown Partnership redevelopment lobbying group, has also beern involved, giving $99 each to DeMaio's city council campaign fund on October 29, 2007; GOP councilman Kevin Faulconer's council campaign committee on September 28, 2009; Democratic council incumbent Marti Emerald's campaign fund on January 15, 2009; and her fellow council Democrat Tony Young on October 26, 2009. The AT&T executive gave $100 to another council Democrat, Todd Gloria, on December 30, 2008.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the king of the city's cable TV hill, Cox Communications, has been its biggest all-around campaign donor.

Cox employees, a spreadsheet analysis of the city clerk's data shows, have given a total of $2600 to Gloria; $2540 to Sanders; $1800 to Young; $1420 to DeMaio's council and mayoral bids; $1000 to Democratic councilwoman Sherri Lightner; $840 to Goldsmith; $750 to GOP councilwoman Lorie Zapf; $750 to Faulconer; $500 to Democrat David Alvarez; and $270 to Emerald.

Interestingly, Cox, which previously had an exclusive contract to carry the Padres' games live, is the only cable outfit to have a deal with Fox Sports, the current rights holder, to run them now.

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