• News Ticker alerts

2012 was a successful political year for La Jolla billionaire Irwin Jacobs.

Besides the re-election of Barack Obama, to whose super PAC the Democrat gave $2.12 million, Jacobs also won big with Proposition Z, the tax-raising San Diego Unified school bond measure, to which he and his wife gave $80,000.


The cell phone magnate's only major disappointment of the year was the defeat of the anti-death penalty Proposition 34, to which Jacobs and his wife gave $80,000.

The Qualcomm founder - whose cash also backs everything from the controversial Balboa Park traffic and parking makeover to the Voice of San Diego online news operation to San Diego State University's KPBS, which named its newsroom after him and wife Joan after they kicked in $2.9 million - is getting some love in return from some of the city's biggest media and establishment players.

According to a news release , Jacobs and his spouse will be awarded the 2013 Neil Morgan Award for Lifetime Achievement, named after the long-time Union-Tribune employee and last editor of the San Diego Tribune, who in 2004 was abruptly fired at the age of 80 during the reign of late U-T publisher David Copley.

As Don Bauder noted here last year:

I have always said Neil was fired by people who weren't even half as smart as he was. He proved that when he hired a lawyer and got a very generous settlement.

Following his dismissal, one-time columnist Morgan put together the Voice website with former assistant Bob Witty, along with fellow La Jollan R.B. "Buzz" Woolley, a wealthy Morgan friend.

Jacobs reportedly has put major money behind the online news and opinion effort, though specifics have not been disclosed.

Jacobs and his wife won't be getting all the glory at the banquet. Other establishment figures picking up the gold include Republican ex-mayor and current chamber of commerce honcho Jerry Sanders and Malin Burnham, the border real estate baron who managed to back both Democratic congressman Scott Peters and icPurple, the super PAC that rounded up big dollars from a host of local fat-cats, including La Jolla computer magnate Ted Waitt and Qualcomm executives, on behalf of Nathan Fletcher's failed mayoral bid.

The awards event is being put on by Lead San Diego, a non-profit that says its mission is

To provide balanced, issue-oriented programming that informs and inspires leadership and civic engagement on regional issues.

  • News Ticker alerts


Visduh Jan. 25, 2013 @ 2:40 p.m.

Matt, an important detail is missing here. Who determines the awardees? Is is Neil himself, or he and some associates, or some other group? I really doubt Neil would choose Jacobs after this recent trip of his into the sewers of politics. But then you can never be sure about Neil--he was a great supporter of Bersin. And I'd like to know a lot more about who is behind Lead San Diego.


HonestGovernment Jan. 25, 2013 @ 4:34 p.m.

Visduh, You can see some things by looking at their 990 filings. All you need is their EIN: 953699122. Plug that into the Foundation Center's search page: http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990s/990search/esearch.php


HonestGovernment Jan. 25, 2013 @ 4:38 p.m.

And of course their web page, to put pretty color photos to those names: http://www.leadsandiego.org/staff


Burwell Jan. 25, 2013 @ 7:16 p.m.

They should name an aircraft carrier after Jacobs, or carve his face on Mt. Rushmore. A man of his accomplishments shouldn't have to settle for a newsroom.


monaghan Jan. 25, 2013 @ 8:58 p.m.

Never mind the Neil Morgan Award -- Visduh, you MUST be kidding about Morgan's involvement -- I want to know if a non-LEAD regular pilgrim could qualify for a Jacobs grant without having to kiss his ring. So much money, so much power, so much hubris, so much naming. Many a person has plaintively said, "but I knew Irwin Jacobs before...." Last week there even was an ad on television for the new Joan and Irwin Jacobs Medical Center at UCSD that has yet to open.


Visduh Jan. 26, 2013 @ 10:43 a.m.

Yes, that Jacobs name will be on many more things in the area before long, I think. For him, the days of giving a couple million bucks to get your name on a building on a university campus is small-fry stuff. Many suspect that he would like to get the Jacobs name on Balboa Park, and who-knows-what-else. This is "new money" run amok.


monaghan Jan. 26, 2013 @ 3:08 p.m.

Thank you, Jill Ballard. Maybe Irwin and Joan Jacobs will turn their philanthropic attention to San Diego's homeless "problem." According to a recent survey, "America's Finest City" is third after Los Angeles and New York in its number of homeless men, women and children.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!