Mayor Gloria Behind Saldaña Attack Mailers

by on May 24, 2022 · 10 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a concerted effort to torpedo Lori Saldaña’s campaign for the District 2 city council seat. And it appears that it is other Democrats, the mayor’s friends, who are behind it all.

A May 21 article in La Prensa about the 101 Ash Street debacle was an eyeopener for many reasons. The biggest bombshell was that the District 2 incumbent council member, Campbell, voted with the majority to approve purchasing the building. Campbell was previously opposed. La Prensa stated:

Inside source say the Council, Mayor, and City Attorney’s office agreed to keep vote secret from the public until after the June 7th election where Councilwoman Campbell is being challenged by former State Assemblyman Lori Saldaña and Dr. Joel Day, a former City policy advisor.

It has been apparent for a long time that Campbell is a bootlicker. She did this with Faulconer and is now toadying for Gloria. It looks like Gloria is rewarding her for the loyalty by sending everyone after the biggest threat to Campbell’s re-election, Lori Saldaña.

The Rag has written about the dark money mailers that are hitting Saldaña. Most of the mailers are paid for by a PAC named New San Diego, formed by Gil Cabrera, the pal Gloria appointed to chair the Airport Authority. A list of New San Diego’s contributors was published in The Rag and a review of the names reveals Gloria’s shadow.

Here are the obvious Gloria supporters on the New San Diego contributor list.

  • Craig Bennedetto – California Strategies
  • Benjamin Haddad – California Strategies
  • Nancy Chase – contributed $1,550 to Gloria’s mayoral campaign.
  • The Cabrera Firm – Gil Cabrera
  • Anthony Bernal – worked for Gloria
  • Rachel Laing – Gloria’s current communications director
  • Clarissa Falcon
  • Mel Katz – Manpower, Inc. donated $10,000 to Gloria’s mayoral campaign.

Rachel Laing is a direct connection to the mayor. Laing had a company named ThreeSixty Public Strategies, Inc. that recently closed its doors. The business address is 525 B Street, Suite 1420. The agent for the filing was Gil Cabrera.

Another hit piece mailer came out bashing Saldaña but this one also pushed the Republican candidate, Linda Lukacs. The mailer was created by a different PAC, Community Voices San Diego. The address on the mailer was 525 B Street, Suite 1420, the same address as the mayor’s communication director’s former business. According to the building, ThreeSixty Public Strategies is subletting Suite 1420.

Is it possible that Gloria’s minions would go to the extreme of pushing a Republican for the D2 seat just to spend more money bashing Saldaña? Was the purpose of this mailer really just intended to attack Saldaña again? Why did the mailer pushing Lukacs only target Saldaña and none of the other candidates running for the D2 seat?

This may be something more than it appears. As explained in The Rag piece about New San Diego, the PAC cannot spend more than 70% of its contributions opposing or promoting a single candidate or it would be reclassified as a primary candidate committee. This would be a change from a PAC that is not aligned to any candidate to a candidate-controlled PAC.

As related here in The Rag, Campbell issued a press statement that contained the very same lies that the hit piece mailers have contained. It does not take a genius to see that Campbell and the originator of these hit piece mailers are working together. Campbell did not even have the imagination to pick something that differed from the mailers.

According to New San Diego’s filings, it has spent $76,619.70 on mailers opposing Saldaña. The contributions New San Diego reported totaled $105,850. This means New San Diego has spent 72% of its funds to oppose a single candidate. This violates the requirements of a general purpose committee and New San Diego should be reclassified for what it really is, a Campbell PAC.

What if another PAC spent money appearing to push the Republican candidate while bashing Saldaña? At this point no one believes Lukacs stands a chance, so promoting her would not represent much risk. But, it did give Saldaña’s opposition more money to spend attacking her than what New San Diego’s limits would allow.

Two of the negative quotes on several mailers were from former clients of Laing’s firm. One was from Jared Quient who works for the company, BayWa R.E. Solar Projects, LLC., building the big solar farm in Jacumba Saldaña is accused of trying to block. BayWa was one of Laing’s clients.

The other negative quote was from Gretchen Newsom representing the IBEW, another of Laing’s clients. Newsom was quoted about Saldaña supposedly being against solar power.

The new PAC in the story, Community Voices San Diego, is itself in violation of filing laws. A PAC is supposed to file a Form 410 detailing the type of PAC it is. A PAC is also supposed to file a Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement Cover Page, detailing all of the contributions to the PAC. Community Voices San Diego has not filed either the Form 410 or Form 460. The only filings on the city site are Forms 496 showing expenditures.

Community Voices’ original committee name was Community Voices San Diego sponsored by The Lincoln Club of San Diego County from May 6, 2018 to October 10, 2018, During this time period, the PAC pushed Lori Zapf and Chris Cate. The name dropped the Lincoln Club association in February 2020 when it became active again.

A Form 496 dated May 12, 2022 shows two contributions. The Chamber of Commerce gave $49,000 and the Downtown San Diego Partnership gave $20,000. Keep in mind that the Chamber paid for the mayor and Campbell’s recent trip to Washington, D.C. Why would these two organizations throw this much money into a can’t-win election?

Community Voices’s final Form 496, dated May 20, showed its cumulative total of expenditures to date as $67,610.95, all for Lukacs. Because there is no information about the PAC’s contributions, it is not possible to know if this is a candidate-controlled PAC or a general purpose committee. Because there is no filing on the contributions, it is impossible to know if the total of expenditures violates the 70% threshold. None of the forms are signed. Because the statement of the organization was also missing, it is impossible to know who is behind this PAC. Yet.

If the Community Voices expenditure of $67,610.95 is added to New San Diego’s expenditure total of $76,619.70 that would mean that $144,230.66 has been spent to attack Saldaña. And it appears the attacks are coming from fellow Democrats who are really Republicans in disguise.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 24, 2022 at 10:20 am

Crazy! Geoff has raised the question whether this PAC against Lori actually gave money to another PAC in support of Linda that is also against Lori. Why would our Democratic mayor fund monies into a PAC favoring the lone Republican in the D2 race?


LORI SALDANA May 24, 2022 at 11:44 am

Geoff- Thanks for your research. I haven’t commented publicy on this site, but the coordination between “insider” in City Hall is increasingly troubling.

At the latest count, the following city agencies are now investigating requests from various people related to questions about how these funds have been solicited and spent, and by whom:

CITY CLERK : Why are client names “routinely” redacted from the Form 700 filings for Rachel Laing (Mayor Gloria’s Communication Director) and other PR/lobbyists? The FPPC requires full transparency- yet the City Clerk has added another step to the disclosure process.

After questions about this redaction policy from myself and a reporter at another newspaper, it has been referred “For review” to:

CITY ATTORNEY: ACA David Karlin is researching City Clerk compliance with FPPC regulations, to determine if this redaction policy conforms with state law. IMO-giving lobbyists’s clients “privacy” in FPPC Form 700 filings is not compliance.

Many of these clients have links to contributions made to New San Diego, the Airport Authority, and Mayor Todd Gloria. That has lead to another office:

CITY ETHICS COMMISSION: Geoff Page has filed a complaint and asked about various violations, and has been told it will take weeks to process- in other words, nothing will be done until AFTER the June 7th election.

So: Three different San Diego City Hall offices responsible for election oversight/regulatory questions re:campaign funding are now working on researching what appears to be clear violations of transparency, coordination, solicitation of funds by people prohibited from doing so (both City of San Diego and Airport Authority)… and all for what? To prevent me from asking questions from the inside if City Hall?

Thank you Frank Gormlie and Geoff Page. This is true public service, as strong investigative journalism should be. This reporting would have made my departed father, Frank Saldaña, proud!


Mike May 24, 2022 at 12:37 pm

When is your enemy’s enemy not your friend?

When He and She are employed by your enemy….so to save their pathetic careers they must smear at least at the pace of $500,000 against a truth-telling City Council candidate in Lori Saldaña in order to avoid their greatest enemy: “sunlight.”

Yes, anti-sunlight politicians dominating San Diego. It seems like an impossible career choice, but it works. And, we pay.

San Diego voters must not reward the Anti-Sunlight Party (ASPs) by doing anything but voting against them and working to defeat their sad, corrosive, democracy-killing act wherever it appears on the ballot. A vote for Lori Saldaña and, as I’m told he is getting the same treatment from the ASPs, vote for Tommy Hough to end this terror now.

Terror? When you see mini-Trump oligarchists and their puppets engaging in personal character destruction campaigns (their operations can’t accurately be called “political”), how do you feel, good citizen, about maybe running for office? How do you feel, party activist, about putting your name on a ballot, or, political staffer, about advancing your career, when your leaders and bosses engage in the lowest form of corporate-sponsored slander and libel?

We can all watch the latter conform in fear as it happens right now. They will parrot the lies. They will demur. These the are the cowards and hollowed-out former world-changers that are necessary to the success of the racket. Racket? Dan Rottenstrich, who seem to want to be the Gini Thomas of San Diego politics as the ASP’s overpaid orifice, is pumping it out harder now because he is threatened by writers like Geoff Page and the exposure of facts. He is not scared of being discovered. Gaslighting is his brand. But, he is scared of not getting paid for his mini-Qanon business to which honesty is kryptonite; and, losing to Saldaña which would threaten to end his ability to pursue his lucrative carer in Trump-style gaslighting and force him to find a new con-perhaps even [shudder] honest work.

Voters, there is more to come. As we get closer to the close of the election, it always gets worse. Just remember that every accusation from this dark hole in democracy is an admission of guilt. Vote against it all with vigor and with pride.

Vote for Lori and Vote for Tommy!


Geoff Page May 24, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Well said, Mike.


Geoff Page May 24, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Someone who knows more about these required filings let me know that Community Voices San Diego is filed as a “county” committee and not a “city” committee. I found the missing documents on the county site that showed the organization type, also a general purpose committee – not formed to support or oppose a specific candidate.

I learned that a committee that spends more than 80% of its funds in a particular jurisdiction must do their filings in that jurisdiction. The filings described in this piece showed that Community Voices had spent more than 80% on a city election. They should have been reclassified a city committee and their filings should be on the city site not the county site.

The documents show the principal officer is Ryan Clumpner who has been the officer since the PAC started when it was sponsored by the Lincoln Club. Clumpner was the executive director of the Lincoln Club at one time but does not appear anywhere on the club’s website today.

The PAC the address is in the Cowles Mountain, San Carlos, and Allied Gardens areas but a mailing address was added to the most recent filing. For reasons I am checking into, the addresses have been redacted but the zip codes were not allowing me to at least narrow down the area. The new zip code is the same as the 525 B Street address of Rachael Laing’s firm.


Richard R May 24, 2022 at 1:51 pm

Don’t forget that New San Diego PAC also gave $5000 to the San Diego County Democratic Party, most likely to support communications going out for a candidate who is in league with those special interests—that would be Kent Lee in the District 6 race who has all the backing of the developers, Sempra Energy execs, and the corporate Dem establishment. So maybe that $5K helps them stay under their 70% threshold of negative spending against just one candidate?


Douglas Blackwood May 24, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Geoff, Thank you for your excellent research; and OB Rag for publishing !
I am sick of the money mongering dominating SD politics, and lowering our quality of life.
Since Donna Fry is not running: Lori has our vote!


Geoff Page May 24, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Spread the word, Doug!


Mike May 24, 2022 at 2:33 pm

People who care about San Diego and democracy are weighing in, speaking up, and coalescing to the right side of decency and history (okay, also their taxpaying wallets). It’s starting to look like a movement and the UT hasn’t even noticed yet. That’s good because it needs to be. And, the UT will probably notice later. The only remedy to this greed-fueled authoritarian virus of Trumpism in San Diego is more democracy and, wherever it attempts to breathe, decisive electoral smothering. Fellow Democrats should not be afraid to say to each other and the pols who run as Democrats that Trumpy attacks on our elections must not be tolerated under any brand.


sam May 25, 2022 at 5:52 am

So the previous Director of Real Estate was fired as a result of Ash Street, and it appears as though the new Director of Real Estate is on board with the City purchasing the building? What about Civic Center Plaza? It’s got the same lease to own agreement as Ash, and has quite alot of deferred maintenance that isn’t being done – why? Because the Real Estate Department doesn’t have qualified staff that has the knowledge of how to manage a high rise building (or two if you include Ash).


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