Ken Leighton 11 a.m., May 20
Hotel magnates, developers, ex-Union-Tribune editor put cash into D.A.'s pocket
Republican Bonnie Dumanis personally gets $25,755 in partial payback for $50,000 invested in failed mayoral campaign
In hindsight, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis didn't have much of a chance in last year's mayoral derby against congressman Bob Filner, city councilman Carl DeMaio, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
But Dumanis jumped into the race anyway, bagging the support of plenty of cops, special agents, judges, and prosecutors, as well as ex-FBI Special Agent in Charge and San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, a politically contentious figure dating back to his controversial performance during the infamous San Diego hijacker flight training before 9/11 and the deadly Ruby Ridge showdown.
Besides their links to the shadowy world of U.S. border law enforcement, police informants, and federal intelligence gathering, Dumanis and Gore each share much of the same political funding and support base, a mix of the city’s powerful real estate and hotel moguls, current and former U-T San Diego executives, and those with pending and past legal and political issues, including those eager to get rid of embattled Democratic Mayor Bob Filner by the most expeditious way possible.
As reported here Monday, Dumanis is already collecting funds for her 2014 re-election bid from border and federal law enforcement interests, along with the city’s big hotel owners.
Topping the list of law enforcement donors to Dumanis is none other than the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's special agent in charge for San Diego and Imperial counties, Derek Benner.
ICE, as it is known, is one tough customer, with reported access to a host of high tech intelligence and surveillance assets, including NSA cross-border wiretaps.
The liberal Filner’s advocacy of marijuana law reform and appearance at the border for a ceremonial gate opening are said to have not gone down well with U.S. law enforcement’s rank-and-file, as unconfirmed reports of federal investigations into Filner’s doings at city hall may eventually illustrate. ICE’s Benner gave $250, which is required by law to come from his personal, not government, funds.
And last week, the Dumanis mayoral campaign committee filed its semi-annual disclosure statement, revealing that that the fund has given the district attorney $25,755 in cash, as partial payback for $50,000 in loans she had personally made to jump-start the campaign.
The cash used by the committee to pay off Dumanis was raised after her 2012 primary loss, much of it collected at the end of last year as the result of a fundraising email circulated by the district attorney in December.
The solicitation didn't mention that a sizable chunk of the change would ultimately go into Dumanis's pocket.
Instead she hit up her loyal supporters for what she simply called “debt retirement:"
"I hope you are well and are enjoying the holiday (and post-election!) season.
"I am in the process of closing out my Mayoral campaign debt and have until tomorrow at midnight to accept contributions. Would you be able to contribute to my debt retirement in the next two days?
"Thank you so much for all you have done to support me in this campaign and over the years. It truly means so much.
"I know everyone was stretched this campaign season and with the holidays upon us it is even tougher, but any amount would be a huge help. If you contributed $500 during the Primary election then you have given the maximum allowable.
"If not, I hope you'll consider giving today. You my donate online at www.BonnieForSanDiego.com and click "Contact" at the bottom of the screen below the letter, and then the red "Contribute Now" button on the following page. Please contact (619) 239-1721 with any questions.
"Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you soon."
It's not uncommon for candidates to personally go out of pocket to grease their campaign funding wheels.
Incumbent officeholders count on the fact that their official power to meet the needs of well-heeled supporters will guarantee ready cash pay-offs after the election is over, win or lose.
Dumanis raked in her post-mayoral loss cash from an array of special interests. The Evans hotel owners - whose inns are on land leased from the city on attractive terms, and who have been fighting with Filner over a lucrative city funding deal they thought they had sealed with previous GOP mayor Jerry Sanders - kicked in $1500. The local Republican Party gave $1000.
Karin Winner, the former editor of the Union-Tribune under its previous Copley management, gave $500 on December 1, bringing her total cash to Dumanis to $1000, and the Sudberry developer family, with a huge footprint at city hall, gave $1500.