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Fact Check: Are the Koch Brothers Writing Checks to DeMaio?

Statement: San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio has “taken millions from Koch Industries,” according to a recent ad supportive of Congressman Bob Filner’s campaign.

Determination: False

 

Image: False

Statement: San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio has “taken millions from Koch Industries,” according to a recent ad supportive of Congressman Bob Filner’s campaign.

Determination: False

Analysis: A recent commercial funded by San Diegans in Support of Bob Filner for Mayor aims to link mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio to the Koch brothers.

Charles and David Koch, whose business conglomerate Koch Industries is worth billions, are known for their hefty donations to libertarian and conservative causes and candidates. The pro-Filner PAC claims DeMaio received financial support from the duo.

“Carl DeMaio can’t defend his extreme record … that he’s taken millions from Koch Industries and has been bankrolled by other right-wing groups,” the announcer says.

We decided to find out whether the Kochs or their foundations have written checks to DeMaio.

An extensive review of campaign finance reports revealed no donations from the brothers.

“Our campaign hasn’t received a penny from the Koch brothers,” a spokesman for DeMaio’s campaign said.

So we turned to the folks who put together the commercial. Were we missing something?

Consultant Bill Wachob, who leads the pro-Filner PAC, pointed to DeMaio’s work in the early 2000s as an analyst for the Reason Foundation, a libertarian policy group.

From 1985 to 2009, the Koch family’s foundations gave Reason more than $2.4 million, according to SourceWatch, a website that tracks donations from groups that attempt to impact public policy.

DeMaio worked for the Reason Foundation from 1999 until 2003, according to his campaign.

Wachob argues that DeMaio’s four years at Reason, along with the success of the for-profit government training company he founded in 1999, gave him the financial clout and the connections to compete for San Diego’s top post.

(For more on how DeMaio made his money, check out this May story by VOSD’s Liam Dillon.)

“Our claim is that you can’t have it both ways,” Wachob said. “You can’t be a millionaire and (have) a big part of your income came from (organizations like the Kochs’ foundations) and say these organizations had nothing to do with you,” Wachob said.

But Wachob couldn’t document any specific donations to DeMaio or his campaign.

For that reason, we decided to label this claim false.

It’s true that donations from the Kochs may have indirectly benefited DeMaio by buoying the foundation where DeMaio was employed, but there is no proof the duo donated directly to the mayoral hopeful.

A paycheck is not equivalent to a campaign donation. Nor did DeMaio’s time at Reason constitute “taking” money — DeMaio put in the time and collected a paycheck.

And that paycheck wasn’t much. A Reason Foundation spokesman said DeMaio made $15,000 during a roughly five-year stint with the organization.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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