Anti-Saldaña PAC Linked to Mayor Gloria Slammed With Ethics Complaint

by on July 11, 2022 · 9 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Geoff Page

During the District 2 city council primary election, The Rag exposed two political action committees, or PACS, working on behalf of incumbent Jennifer Campbell by slinging mud at challenger Lori Saldaña. The two PACs are New San Diego and Community Voices – SD.

The tactics that New San Diego used during the campaign has earned the PAC an Ethics Commission complaint.  The June 17, 2022, anonymous complaint names the New San Diego and the man behind it all, Gil Cabrera, chair of the San Diego Airport Authority. Gloria’s personal appointment.

The complaint was very long, almost 1200 words. Much of the wording was not necessary to make its points, so this accounting is a summarized version. [See text of complaint here.]

The Ethics Commission complaint opened by explaining a few things about New San Diego that were revealed in The Rag’s earlier stories on this PAC and Gil Cabrera.  At issue was that New San Diego filed as a general-purpose committee when it was created at the end of November 2021.

Fair Political Practices Commission Form 410 – “Statement of Organization Recipient Committee” contains this committee explanation:

General Purpose Committee

A committee is a “general purpose committee” if its principal activity is supporting or opposing a variety of candidates or measures voted on in different elections. (FPPC Regulation 18227.5)

New San Diego did not support or oppose a variety of candidates or measures in different elections. New San Diego opposed a single candidate in the District 2 race.

This is the crux of the complaint, because the sole purpose of New San Diego’s existence was clearly to oppose Saldaña. The complaint substantiated this claim using New San Diego’s campaign financial filings. The Pac spent a total of $194,704.37 on the primary election. Of that total, $171,154.37, or 88%, was spent on negative campaign mailers against Lori Saldaña for San Diego City Council District 2.

The complaint stated that $8,550, of the remaining $23,550, was spent to promote Saldana’s opponent, Campbell, and $15,000 was donated to the San Diego County Democratic Party.

Form 410 then describes what New San Diego should have filed as.

Primarily Formed Committee

A committee is “primarily formed” when it makes or initially plans to make more than 70% of its contributions and expenditures to support or oppose a specific candidate or measure, or a group of measures or specific local candidates all being voted upon in the same election on the same date. (FPPC Regulation 18247.5)

New San Diego’s expenditures exceeded the 70% threshold by 18%.

The complaint explained that New San Diego participated in only one race during the primary election cycle, the District 2 election. The complaint stated:

Given the timing of the creation of this committee, at the beginning of the 2022 Primary Election, and its expenditures exclusively dedicated to a single race, nearly exclusively in opposition to a single candidate, this committee clearly functioned as a primarily formed committee in opposition to Lori Saldana for City Council District 2.”

There are different requirements for general purpose and primarily formed committees involving report filings. The complaint alleges that New San Diego violated campaign financing rules by not correctly identifying itself and not filing the correct reports. The complaint also said the name of the committee needed to be changed to include words clearly stating it was formed to oppose Saldaña.

The ethics complaint states that New San Diego deceived “donors, expenditure recipients and voters,” by failing to update its name to disclose the purpose and nature of this committee.” Because of how New San Diego filed, the complaint states, donors may have been led to believe that this committee was for multiple candidates and initiatives, not just to defeat Lori Saldaña.

The complaint also stated that groups that received money from New San Diego, like the San Diego County Democratic Party, might have thought twice about accepting New San Diego’s support if they had known the true purpose of the PAC.

The complaint then ties Gloria to the PAC stating:

In discussions with potential donors, potential expenditure recipients and in a positive email communication to voters, this committee was portrayed as representing San Diego City Mayor Todd Gloria.

A fundraising event was held for this committee at The Prado in early December (approx. December 10th) which was portrayed as a fundraiser for Mayor Gloria’s PAC. Donors were informed that their donations were to Mayor Gloria’s PAC. This can be confirmed by requesting copies of the invitation email sent to potential donors for this event, as well as other donation solicitation emails. Individual donors may also confirm this association. An email, sent to voters, from this committee, had the subject line, “Mayor Todd Gloria’s Voting Guide”.

The complaint explains that Gloria’s name does not appear in any of the documentation for the New San Diego PAC or the mailers. “Voters who received the multiple negative mailers sent by this committee would have no way of knowing that this committee represented Mayor Gloria.” Voters were alerted to this during the primary campaign by The Rag.

The complaint claimed that Gloria’s name should be included in the PAC documents and mailers. Considering the lies and distortions the mailers contained, it will be a cold day in hell before Gloria would ever agree to that.

The complaint also described the false information in the New San Diego mailers that The Rag detailed in its stories about each mailer.  It appeared that some of the complaint language may have been taken from those Rag stories.

Since New San Diego is Gil Cabrera’s PAC and he and the mayor are obviously tight, this complaint may go the way of Saldaña’s ethics complaint about Gloria’s singing and dancing through city hall. This one may have some legs to it but so did the complaint about Gloria’s campaign video shot using public employees and city property.

This one may require a formal FPPC complaint.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam R July 11, 2022 at 1:32 pm

Since these are not publicly available and therefore there’s no way of knowing a complaint would have been filed… are you the one who filed it Geoff? And if you didn’t you should share the whole thing so we can all read it.


Geoff Page July 11, 2022 at 4:34 pm

No, I did not file this complaint, it was provided to someone anonymously who sent it to me. I have no problem sharing the whole thing.


Geoff Page July 12, 2022 at 1:28 pm

Just to make sure you saw it, the full text is in The Rag today.


Carl M Zanolli July 11, 2022 at 1:54 pm

If you didn’t file it then it’s entirely appropriate that you should disclose what contribution, collaboration or input you had with whoever did file it.

Indeed yes, we should all be able to read it


Geoff Page July 11, 2022 at 4:38 pm

For both you Carl, and Sam, if I had anything to do with filing this complaint, I would have said so. I am not a sneaky person, I take responsibility for what I do. I just reported what I was sent. I’ll see if Frank can post the whole thing.


Geoff Page July 12, 2022 at 1:28 pm

Just to make sure you saw it, the full text is in The Rag today.


Nathan Jay July 12, 2022 at 1:27 pm

I appreciate the visibility the OB Rag has brought to these annoying mailers. Still for me the question remains, how to hold anyone accountable who mailed them, and how to prevent such a waste of money, materials, and postal carriers’ time and energy in the future?


Frank Gormlie July 12, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Not to mention any voter suppression and whether any voters were dissuaded from voting for Saldana. But yes, how do we hold such people accountable who spread lies and then help win elections based on those lies? Especially when they’re in power.


Geoff Page July 12, 2022 at 2:42 pm

The worst example is Linda Lukacs. Her own committee raised practically nothing but the PAC supporting her spent a lot more. That will be detailed in another piece.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: