Bill Manson 9 a.m., June 26
Fletcher gets cash from city leaseholder also backing Faulconer
Pay for play campaign of epic proportions shaping up as well-financed influence seekers and long time city power brokers, including ex-con, line up with open checkbooks
The two big Fs in San Diego's money race for mayor, Nathan Fletcher and Kevin Faulconer, appear locked in a tight battle over who can corral the most special interest campaign money from tony Rancho Santa Fe, one of America's richest zip codes.
As reported here last week, Republican Faulconer, a member of the city council, launched his fundraising drive by collecting $1000 from a rich Democrat and Obama convention delegate living in wealthy Rancho Santa Fe, outside the limits of the city.
Michael Gelfand is president of Terra Vista Management, owner of Campland on the Bay, which as reported by the San Diego Community News Group, has some lucrative business to complete at city hall:
Campland on the Bay’s lease with the city is due to expire in 2017 and the property is to be returned to marshland, according to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan. But Campland general manager Marshall Wiseman believes there’s some wiggle room.
“We’re working our tails off to be able to stay where we are,” said Wiseman. “Campland (which opened in 1969) is the perfect use for land in Mission Bay Park. [Whatever the outcome], we will be on Mission Bay somehow.”
Gelfand's cash contribution to Faulconer was dated September 4. Three days later, according to a subsequently filed campaign disclosure statement, Gelfand gave $1000 to Faulconer rival Fletcher.
Faulconer's Rancho Santa Fe inroads have apparently not come at the expense of Fletcher, the former Republican Assemblyman turned independent turned Democrat, as cash from real estate related moneymen has continued to flow his way.
On September 7, according to a disclosure report posted online by the city clerk, Rancho Santa Fe’s John D. Frager, a commercial broker at CB Richard Ellis, maxed out to Fletcher.
The day before, attorney Fletcher Paddison, another Rancho Santa Fe resident, also gave $1000 to the Nathan Fletcher cause.
His diverse experience covers a wide range of business issues including unfair competition, antitrust, trade secret/intellectual property, and class action matters as well as the more traditional areas of business and real estate litigation including a substantial number of troubled debt/distressed asset suits.
On Faulconer's side are Dominic "Bud" Alessio and wife Katherine, who each gave $1000 on September 5.
The legendry Alessio family goes back to the days of convicted banker C. Arnholdt Smith and his Westgate empire, when the late Johnny Alessio, Dominic’s father, ran the Caliente racetrack in Tijuana, among other undertakings of interest to the FBI, the IRS, and various other law enforcers.
Johnny Alessio and brother Angel went to federal prison for income tax evasion, and Dominic ended up doing time for providing gratuities to prison officials, as recounted by the Los Angeles Times in 1988:
While incarcerated in Lompoc, the brothers were treated to many favors, including weekend meetings with women in the prison chapel building and at a Lompoc motel, the government said. Several prison officials were provided with a wide range of gifts, including a San Diego Bay sailing junket on Smith's yacht.
When Bud Alessio was arrested, he confidently told reporters that the charges were "total harassment." Then he tossed a lighted cigarette at a television cameraman, glared and walked into the lobby of FBI headquarters.
During the 1973 trial in Los Angeles, a petite, dark-haired singer-actress named Maria della Malva testified that she met John Alessio on four occasions in motels while he was serving the term for income tax evasion. Although most of the visits lasted five hours, one went as long as 12 hours.
Bud Alessio testified that he provided complimentary lodging at the Kona Kai Club for the prison administrator and his family and that he also arranged for two free dinners, a boat trip and for perfume and baskets of fruit to be placed in the administrator's rooms.
The Alessio family has long been linked to C. Terry Brown, the powerful Mission Valley hotel magnate who took on then-mayor Bob Filner earlier this year in a legal battle over control of a big stash of the city's tourism promotion cash.
The website Stallionsearch.com has written about Dominic's horse racing partnership with Brown and the late John Davies - San Diego's preeminent GOP political fixer for years - called Alessio, Brown and Davies:
Partners Dominic “Bud” Alessio and John Davies have been partners for more than a decade, and C. Terry Brown joined them about five years ago.
Davies died in May from pancreatic cancer, but his partners kept his name as a way to honor him.
At the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1988, Dominic was the subject of a pardon seeking letter-writing campaign on his behalf by many of San Diego's wealthiest Republican power brokers and elected officials.
Some of the federal investigators who worked the tax evasion and prison bribery cases contend that the letter-writing campaign for a White House pardon is another example of the Alessio family spreading its influence.
[Lenard] Wolf, the lead FBI agent on the bribery case, said: "That's the way he (Bud Alessio) operates. You know, scratch my back, I'll scratch your back. Butter up people who can do favors for you when you need them."
The letter writers included Terry Brown, as well as, noted the Times, "San Diego County Sheriff John Duffy; then-San Diego police Chief Bill Kolender; Gerald J. Lewis, then a state Court of Appeal justice; Thomas B. Day, president of San Diego State University, and Leo T. Maher, bishop of the San Diego Catholic Diocese."