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Which way will he go?

That's the burning question of the moment regarding former city councilman Carl DeMaio, who, following a brief interregnum after losing his mayoral battle with Bob Filner last year, announced in May he was running for Congress against Democratic freshman Scott Peters.

Now, with harassment allegation-plagued Democrat Filner under attack from New York City media liberal Rachel Maddow and California Koch conservative U-T San Diego publisher Doug Manchester, will DeMaio change his game plan?

Peters forces are likely hoping that the Filner follies will prove a siren call, luring DeMaio back to the fields of his former power and glory at city hall.

After polls showed Peters facing an unnervingly close re-election contest, national Democrats began a full bore media and PR assault on DeMaio, calling local reporters with tips on the former councilman and issuing press releases touting Peters's membership in a self-styled "non-partisan" group calling itself No Labels, which features a video endorsement by Bill Clinton on its website.

San Diego State University's owned-and-operated TV station, KPBS, went after DeMaio with an expose that questioned the Republican's use of a political committee called Reform San Diego to promote himself before he officially declared for congress.

DeMaio insisted in an email that he is following the law, taking specific actions to comply. Reform San Diego and his run for congress are separate, he said.

Election law experts, however, said DeMaio is walking a blurry line.

They said his coalition seemed to be laying the local groundwork for the congressional bid—a trend around the country—and he might have found a “great new loophole” in the law.

The taxpayer-funded public university didn't tell its viewers that Ken Carpi, a Washington lobbyist for the school's non-profit foundation, happened to be lobbying legislation that Peters had a hand in; federal disclosure records show that Carpi, along with Paul Robinson, another long-linked university lobbyist and a stalwart GOP leader, contributed campaign cash to Democrat Peters.

Despite San Diego State's apparent self interest in the congressional outcome, the question remains, what was DeMaio doing raising cash for Reform San Diego during the first half of this year?

According to a six-month disclosure statement filed Monday and posted online yesterday by San Diego's city clerk’s office, much of the money went to pay DeMaio himself.

The committee made payment of $13,892 on a personal loan of $50,000 DeMaio made to the committee in March 2011; after that and previous payments, the committee still owed DeMaio $18,107 as of the end of June, the report says. The balance is listed as coming due at the end of this year.

In addition to that expenditure, Reform San Diego paid $7500 to the polling company of Competitive Edge Research and $2543 in credit card bills, among various other costs.

In all, during the first half of the year, the committee raised $32,954. It ended the period with a reported $500 cash on hand.

Big donors included J. D. Bols, listed as a real estate investor ($2500); California Commercial Asphalt ($1000); Carlin Law Group ($1000); Martin Fenton ($500); contractor Ian Gill ($1000); retail furniture mogul Jerry Navarra ($1000); and developer Colton Sudberry ($1000).

An outfit called Liberty Launch, Inc. of Orange County gave $1000. According to a profile on LinkedIn, the firm is run by Konstantinos Roditis, who has operated Yellow Cabs there, according to a February 2009 account in OC Weekly.

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