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Given the shadow-financed Republican-led effort to recall embattled mayor Bob Filner, it's not always easy to track the torrents of cash being pumped into San Diego politics by the town's wealthy special interests.

The latest wrinkle in the art of obscure political funding comes in the form of $5,000 contributions made to the federal campaign account of the local GOP on July 19 by each of C. Terry Brown, owner of Atlas Hotels, and Richard Bartell, general partner of Bartell Hotels.

Another notable donor: U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester's Manchester Financial Group, L.P., with $5000 on July 30. He runs the posh Grand del Mar resort in the northern reaches of the city and his news operation has been a staunch - some say over-the-top - Filner foe.

As previousy reported here, the three local lodging titans, along with lucrative city lease holder and fellow hotelier Bill Evans, got into a nasty spat with Filner earlier this year over a sweetheart city funding deal they thought they'd reached with previous GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, to whom they had made total campaign donations well into six figures.

Using a city of San Diego fee-funded non-profit corporation they controlled, the moguls sued Filner personally, but lost out in court, and reportedly vowed to seek their revenge.

According to city ethics chief Stacey Fulhorst, the current recall campaign against the mayor won't have to report who is footing its bills until that effort is concluded, so the public apparently won't discover who is putting up the cash there until after the Filner fireworks are over.

The Brown and Bartell $5,000 contributions, along with another Brown donation of $2500 on July 26, were made to the federal account of the Republican Party of San Diego County, according to a disclosure report the party must file by law with the Federal Election Commission, somewhat more of a stickler for transparency than San Diego's ethics panel.

During the same period, the report reveals, a host of the magnates' allies and political friends also chipped in, including ex-port commissioner David Malcolm, felled by a conflict of interest scandal ($2500 on July 15); failed La Jolla GOP city council candidate Ray Ellis ($5000 on July 3); ResMed founder Peter Farell, who has threated to leave the state over regulatory issues ($1000 on July 22); and Stuart Posnock, the big developer from New Jersey who financed Filner's mayoral committee before the mayoral scandal broke ($1000 on July 23).

Besides Manchester, corporate money included big-box developer Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ($6500 on July 2) and Pardee Homes ($5000 on July 3).

The big cash switch was made on July 30, with a transfer of $70,000 from the county GOP's federal committee where the funds were originally deposited and itemized by contributor, to its state-regulated committee, called the Republican Party of San Diego County, where no itemized donor list was provided, effectively concealing the actual identities of the well-heeled contributors and amount of their donations.

A footnote to the federal filing says:

This transfer from our federal to non-federal account is to fund activities in support of local candidates.

These funds are being used only in support of such candidates and are not being used to influence the election or defeat of any federal candidate.

California disclosure records show that on the very same day, July 30, two San Diego city council campaigns, those of incumbent and special Wal-Mart friend Lorie Zapf, running in the newly re-drawn second district, and Chris Cate, employed by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the downtown lobbying outfit closely linked to Terry Brown, received a total of $70,000.

Zapf picked up $50,000; Cate, who is running for an open seat in the city's newly re-drawn sixth district, got $20,000.

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photog921 Aug. 21, 2013 @ 3:36 p.m.

"Not easy" to follow their money, that's an understatement. Pretty "clever" people to find out how to channel/launder/obscure it. And driven to "win" - we shouldn't be surprised by anything any more, but somehow I still am.


monaghan Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:02 p.m.

The developers are ma$$ing and ama$$ing, getting ready to replace Bob Filner as Mayor of this city.


Yankeedoodle Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:25 p.m.


Any suggestions?

You know it is quite odd. I am visiting relatives in Oregon, and apparently something similar happened locally and the official just said, so sue me, see you in court and cordially ignored all demands that he resign. At this time, the letters have finally stopped and people who work with him say he is just working away doing his job.

I think he had an affair with someone he worked with.

Maybe Filner could run for Mayor again, as Grover Cleveland did for President. I'd vote for him.


monaghan Aug. 25, 2013 @ 1:09 p.m.

Yankee -- I think the notion of Bob returning to run again is unlikely, though I too would surely campaign for him and vote for him if he did.

Realistically, I hope Filner's lawyers will protect him from financial ruin and that he will take good care of himself after this excruciating experience. When things settle down in his personal life, he can contribute again to the community in the old ways -- teaching, writing, promoting a democratic vision for all the people who live in San Diego, including those who are not at the table of power.

And one footnote, unlike the case of your Oregon official, there was not one allegation of sexual harassment proven against Bob Filner and there were no allegations of sex in any form. Expressions of unwanted physical attention are both commonplace and reprehensible in our society, but they are not sex or sexual harassment. Bob Filner was swept away in a media storm and a tsunami of phony damsels in distress.


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