Why Is Gil Cabrera – Chairman of Airport Authority Board and Founder of New San Diego – Publishing Smear Mailers About Lori Saldaña?

by on May 18, 2022 · 11 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

From Cabrera law firm website.

By Geoff Page

The founder and sole member of the New San Diego political action committee that is publishing smear mailers about Lori Saldaña is none other than Mayor Todd Gloria’s friend Guillermo “Gil” Cabrera.

How does a person who touts himself as a family man and a Democrat justify putting out mailers that present nothing but lies and distortions about a fellow Democrat?

Confirmation that Cabrera was the founder and only member of New San Diego came from Cabrera himself during a phone call May 17.  A call was placed to his office and a voice message was left asking for a call back. The message was clear that the call was about the New San Diego PAC.

To Cabrera’s credit, he called back shortly after the message was left. While he was not talkative, he did say he was the founder and only member of New San Diego. Besides the donors of course. So, who is Gil Cabrera?

His name may be familiar because he is the new chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board. Isn’t it encouraging to know the new head of the airport authority has such a sterling character?

Cabrera’s airport appointment by the mayor was effective August 16, 2021.  For some reason, Cabrera’s LinkedIn page shows this position beginning in January 2021.

What the LinkedIn page also shows is that being on boards accounted for seven of Cabrera’s thirteen work experiences. He is currently serving on the following:

  • San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Sharp Healthcare
  • Truman National Security Project (Political Partner San Diego Chapter)
  • Alliance for Hope

His past board experience includes:

  • San Diego Convention Center Corporation
  • San Diego LGBT Community Center
  • San Diego County Taxpayers
  • San Diego Master Chorale

Cabrera was also Chairman of the City of San Diego Ethics Commission and a Director at Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Inc.

Cabrera is an attorney. He practiced law with two San Diego law firms for a total of ten years before starting his own firm, The Cabrera Firm, APC in 2007. Almost all of his previously listed experienced came after he started his firm, except for the San Diego Master Chorale and Make-A-Wish.

Interestingly, on the Airport Authority (SDCRAA) website there is a bio of Cabrera. The large second paragraph opens touting Cabrera’s experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Mr. Cabrera has been an engaged member of the San Diego community serving as a wish granter and on the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego and ultimately on the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America National Board of Directors.”

But, according to his LinkedIn profile, his experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation ended 15 years a go in 2007. The profile mentions only the National Group, not the San Diego chapter. It’s curious why the more recent experience with The Alliance for Hope was not used.

The Truman National Security Project, according to Wikipedia, is an organization that “serves to organize American progressives on issues of national security and foreign policy.” Aligned with the Democratic Party, it was founded in 2004. The group appears to be a sort of militant bunch of liberals, which seems like an oxymoron.

Cabrera’s Twitter profile states “Husband, papi, politico, San Diegan.” Papi being Spanish for “daddy.” Then, the profile touts the board experience “Chair @SharpHealthCare & @SDAirportAuth. @iam4hope@iatse122 @TrumanProject. Fmr Chair@SDConventionCtr&@SDEthics”

The @iatse122 is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 122. It was not clear what the association was with Cabrera.

Cabrera’s Facebook page also touts him as a family man with kids.

Cabrera in red holding camera; Mayor Gloria is directly behind him.

So, why is Cabrera putting out mailers with blatant lies and distortions about a fellow Democrat? Because Lori Saldaña is not the Democrat Gloria wants on the council. Gloria likes Campbell because she will never oppose him on anything. Cabrera is being a mouthpiece – a nickname for attorneys.

As described in The Rag article on the first hit piece mailer, there was what looked like a discrepancy in New San Diego’s filing documents. One filing form indicated New San Diego was not formed to support or oppose any specific candidate. Another filing form shows expenditures for New San Diego and the purpose noted on the form was to oppose Saldaña

When asked about the discrepancy in the filing documents, Cabrera just reiterated that New San Diego was a General Purpose Committee, which was already known. The City of San Diego Ethics Commission 2020 Committee Manual defines this type of committee:

A “City” general purpose committee is one that makes more than 70% of its contributions and expenditures to support or oppose candidates and measures voted on in only the City of San Diego.

As recounted in The Rag story, groups like New San Diego have to file Form 410 – FPPC 410, Statement of Organization. The FPPC is the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The form has a section where the entity identifies the type of committee it is. There are four categories. New San Diego marked a category number four:

General Purpose Committee – Not formed to support or oppose specific candidates or measures in a single election.

The description is important, “not formed to support or oppose specific candidates.”

On the very first form detailing expenditures, New San Diego stated the expenditures were to oppose Lori Saldaña. However, it appears that New San Diego can still claim it was not formed to oppose a candidate if it follows certain rules.

The Ethics Commission Manual went on to state:

In addition, a committee spending a particular percentage of its money to support or oppose a particular candidate or measure may become a “primarily formed recipient committee.” See Chapter 1 for more information.

According to Chapter 1 of the manual, a “primarily formed recipient committee” is:

A committee is a City candidate primarily formed recipient committee under either of the following circumstances:

A. It was created for the purpose of running a campaign for or against (1) a single City of San Diego candidate; or (2) a group of candidates running for office in the same City of San Diego election.


B. It spends more than 70 percent of its total contributions and expenditures on (1) a single City candidate (or against that candidate’s opponents); or (2) a group of candidates being voted upon in the same City election.

What this is saying is that if New San Diego does not spend more the 70% of its contributions and expenses on one candidate it would not be reclassified as a “primarily formed recipient committee.”

The Ethics Commission Manual states that committees have to calculate the percentage quarterly. It appears all a PAC like New San Diego has to do is make sure it does not exceed the 70% threshold.

The Second Mailer

A second mailer has popped up with more of the same lies and distortions that were seen on the first one described in The Rag article. The front of the mailer has images of torn bits of two newspaper stories. One is an April 30, 2006 story from the San Francisco Chronicle with the title “Lobbyist gifts: lavish but legal.” The newspaper snippet states:

Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego, accepted $4,811, including a $346 concert ticket paid for by Amylin Pharmaceuticals; $235 in meals from the San Diego Association of Realtors; a $200 ticket to a holiday event hosted by Biocom, a biotech trade organization.

Cabrera’s mailer cut the quote off after “Amylin Pharmaceuticals.” It’s pretty hard to apply the word “lavish” to what was in this article and that was all there was about Saldaña.

Above the snippet from the Chronicle, the mailer states:

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Lori Saldaña took the most lobbyist gifts of any member of the State Assembly, second only to the Speaker.

The Chronicle article did not state this. It listed five politicians who were the largest recipients. The Assembly Speaker at the time, 16 years ago, was first having accepted $6,018 in gifts. Saldaña was second at $4,811. The “lavish” gifts for the remaining three politicians totaled $4,324, $3,735, and $3,236.

The second newspaper snippet on the second mailer was from the Sacramento Bee. The headline was “Energy firms help pay for Calf. regulators’ far-flung trips.” It contained this bit of print:

The $12,500-per-person outing, which included a stop at the five-star, beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janeiro, was booked by a San Francisco travel agency called Rascals in Paradise. It was paid for by CFEE, which is funded by major oil and utility companies.

The problem is that Lori Saldaña’s name is nowhere to be seen in the 3,200-word article.

On the back of the mailer were pictures of three people with anti-Saldaña quotes. The first was by Danielle Thayer who said Saldaña was just a career politician “who is just there for the perks and free meals.”

Research on Ms. Thayer produced nothing of significance. It was a mystery why anyone would place any value in this person’s opinion, which was clearly ridiculous. Perhaps Ms. Thayer will read this and offer to explain where she came up with that accusation.

The second quote was a bit surprising because it was from Ocean Beach’s own Gretchen Newsome, former president of the Ocean Beach Town Council. Newsom’s quote said that she was concerned about climate change and would never vote for someone who flew around the country with oil companies and who oppose solar energy.

Newsom was asked in an email if she had approved use of her image and her quote and she responded that she had. She said she was aware of research and findings that showed Saldaña had accepted over $12,000 in travel funded by oil and gas companies.

Ms. Newsom was under the weather so she was not pressed for substantiation of the alleged travel funding. So far, nothing has been provided to substantiate this claim other than the article that did not mention Saldaña.

The second part of Newsom’s quote on the mailer referred to Saldaña’s opposition to the huge solar farm in Jacumba. As discussed in the previous Rag story about the first mailer, Saldaña was helping the people in Jacumba who just wanted the size of the facility reduced. Saldaña has a clear record of supporting renewable energy.

Newsom’s problem with this issue is understandable as she works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the IBEW. Newsom said the project “would have created many good green jobs” for the union members. The comment was puzzling because the project was approved for the full original size of over 600 acres and has recently begun construction.

The third quote was the same one from Jared Quient about the solar project that was on the first mailer. The Rag story pointed out that Quient is employed by the firm building the solar farm.

As someone who has been a lifelong Democrat, at heart, but not registered with any party, this writer was saddened to see a Democrat viciously attacking another Democrat using Republican tactics. It is disheartening to see a person like Cabrera, a supposed family man with some history working for good causes abandon any sense of morality to further the mayor’s agenda.

Hail trump!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike James May 18, 2022 at 11:37 am

Thank you for investigating these hit pieces. This type of politics is unfortunately expected from the Lincoln Club and Republican operatives but when Democrats attack other Democrats with smear campaigns, I find it appalling. Those responsible should be called out.


Vern May 18, 2022 at 12:26 pm

For what its worth, a number of democrats have become indistinguishable from republicans. (i.e., YIMBYs – the “tools” of corporate real estate & developers).


Mat Wahlstrom May 18, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Good sleuthing, Geoff. It appears there’s a pattern of Mr. Cabrera forming electoral committees for which he is then ‘rewarded’ with plum appointments.

In July 2020, it was “Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for Mayor 2020” (https://bit.ly/3wmusuB), that he claimed was terminated on 12/31/20 (https://bit.ly/3PsNYgw) – which was the same day Gloria appointed him to the Airport Authority Board, https://www.san.org/Blog/blog-detail/san-diego-county-regional-airport-authority-announces-new-board-members.

Wonder what quid his ‘New San Diego’ gig will pro quo?

If this is how the former chair of the Ethics Commission thinks it’s proper to operate, no wonder we’re immersed in such a cesspool of corruption…


Frank Gormlie May 18, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Campbell’s attack dogs have just unleashed a press statement accusing Saldana of the same claims Gil’s mailers allege.


Mat Wahlstrom May 18, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Literally minutes after La Prensa San Diego reported that Campbell flipped to support a secret deal by Gloria to buy 101 Ash Street but is hiding it until after the election, https://twitter.com/LaPrensaSD/status/1527044630566477824. No better way to ensure the Establishment engages in every dirty trick they can think of to protect her.


Mike May 19, 2022 at 1:49 pm



Lyle May 18, 2022 at 3:29 pm

So Saldaña was “helping the people in Jacumba”. Isn’t that the sort of person we want representing OB and Point Loma ?


MA May 19, 2022 at 11:04 am

Is the IATSE 122 connection possibly tied to a relationship between Cabrera and fellow Truman Project adherent and SD Convention Center Treasurer Shawn VanDiver?


MA May 19, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Or is Todd Gloria SD Convention Center Board appointee, Vice-Chair Carlos Cota, who happens to be an IATSE International Representative, Trustee and Business Agent for IATSE Local 122, a piece of the puzzle?


Mike May 19, 2022 at 1:44 pm

First, the obvious, his $500,000-ish gaslight campaign attacking Lori would not be happening if Lori was not winning in their own polls. ($500,000 may be the over-under, but it is also more than 20-times Saldaña’s total reported campaign warchest.)

In last night’s candidate forum Day emerged from the shrubbery to parrot these lies about Lori. Same words. Same lies. “Parrot” may not be fair in light of Day’s money relationship with Cabrera and this MAGA-mini gang of right-wing gaslighters. Day is an easy liar. He continues to claim that he is “Professor” when he has never been a professor of anything. Not once. He know this. He knows that he is not a professor because he does not qualify to be a professor.

Day’s ‘professor’ Kevin Faulconer (the fluff-vs-substance is not the only resemblance here) for whom day worked, for so long, was the one who hired dumpster-diving opposition research operatives to get actual Professor Lori Saldaña’s private employee files (they got caught by college staff) when she ran against him as the only Democrat in San Diego who refused give Faulconer and the GOP a free pass.

Now, the concerted gaslighting is not a violent attack against the Capitol to stop an election. But this authoritarian-style of words-have-no-meaning rhetoric is what precedes and precipitates violence and the erasure of democratic institutions. The Trumpy campaign of lies about Lori also makes a serious attempt to corrupt and to delegitimize this election. This is what they do when they know that cannot win a legitimate democratic election but they can get enough money to manufacture enough falsehood and fear to destroy the legitimacy of the election.

Voters who want to save our democracy from Trump can do it right at home in District 2 by rejecting the Trump tactics adopted in unwise and self-important desperation by the Campbells, Days, Glorias and etc. who are selling out to stop Lori Saldaña by making them fail. Politicians and their dark-money financiers, however malevolent they may be, rarely emulate failure.


Vern May 20, 2022 at 10:24 am

Todd Gloria is Kevin Faulconer with a different perfume.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: