Everybody was on the list earlier this month when Mayor Kevin Faulconer headlined a fundraiser for his new charity. There was Bank of America, Cox, Sempra Energy, Wells Fargo, Pardee Homes and many more.
Those powerhouse companies were named as partners and event sponsors for the fundraiser for One San Diego, the nonprofit created soon after Faulconer took office last year. All frequently have business interests tied to City Hall decisions. And yet, none of the companies’ donations – not the amount nor when they were given – has been made public, and it’s unlikely they ever will be.
The donations aren’t subject to the strict disclosure laws that govern campaigns and City Hall lobbying because they’re not for campaigns and City Hall lobbying.
But it’s impossible to miss the close ties between One San Diego and the efforts to boost Faulconer’s standing in advance of his re-election bid next year and any future run for higher office. The people who donate to One San Diego certainly know this, said Richard Hasen, a law professor at UC Irvine and expert in campaign finance.
“There are always people with interests before the city who are always happy to give to civic purposes and also curry favor with elected officials,” Hasen said.
Indeed, the lines separating the mayor’s nonprofit and the mayor’s political ambitions are pretty blurry. One San Diego is the mayor’s nonprofit. But it also isn’t.
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Black boxes? Corruption? Sanders set up Balboa Park Celebration Inc.; Balboa Park Conservancy; and who knows what else before moving on to run San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce as an extension of the Republican Party to all intents. These political nonprofits have preference for contracts with connections. They become, like BPCI, a reward pathway for former staff and other friends to have easy jobs with no oversight.
While I personally like some of the Board Members, I recognize that some of them contributed to the problems of the City and the Region. Is "cronyism" rewarded within the political world? Absolutely.