Text of Ethics Complaint Against Gloria-Aligned PAC

by on July 12, 2022 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

In a post published yesterday, Monday, July 11, Geoff Page outlined the content of an anonymous ethics complaint filed on June 17, 2022 with the San Diego Ethics Commission, that named the New San Diego PAC and the man behind it, Gil Cabrera, chair of the San Diego Airport Authority, as well as Mayor Todd Gloria.

Gil Cabrera

Todd Gloria

They were alleged to have violated San Diego Election Campaign Control Ordinance (SDMC section 27.2901 – 27.2991) in improperly forming a PAC that campaigned against District 2 candidate Lori Saldana in fliers delivered to D2 doorsteps, full of falsehoods.

Here below, is the text of the complaint (separated into paragraphs for easier reading):

Description of Facts. Describe the facts constituting the alleged violation(s)

New San Diego, which qualified as a committee on 11/29/2021, filed as a general-purpose committee. However, this committee made no campaign related independent expenditures in2021. In 2022, $171,154.37 (88%) of the $194,704.37 of independent campaign expenditures went to negative campaign advertising against Lori Saldana for San Diego City Council District2.

Of the remaining $23,550 spent by the committee, $8,550 was spent to promote Lori Saldana’s opponent for San Diego City Council District 2 – Jennifer Campbell. The remaining$15,000 was donated to the San Diego County Democratic Party. This committee did not participate in any races this cycle – other than San Diego City Council District 2.

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. (Per meeting the requirements described in the FPPC Campaign Finance Manual 4, Chapter 1, Page 13).

Given that this committee functioned, this cycle, as a primarily formed committee, the Form 410 submitted to the FPPC and the City of San Diego should have indicated this was a primarily formed committee; relevant primarily formed committee deadlines and reports should have been met. Additionally, the name of the committee should have been updated to include words to the effect of “in Opposition to Lori Saldana for San Diego City Council 2022”.

By failing to update its name to disclose the purpose and nature of this committee, donors, expenditure recipients and voters were deceived. Donors may have been led to believe that this committee was, as per the brief description of activities in its initial 410, for multiple candidates and initiatives, when its only initial purpose was to defeat Lori Saldana.

The progressive groups that received sponsorships from this committee, including the Progressive Labor Summit and the San Diego County Democratic Party, may have been less likely to accept such support if the purpose of the committee had been properly disclosed.

Most importantly, voters were misinformed as to the aims of this committee on the multiple literature pieces they received from the committee. At such a time that this committee were to expand to support or oppose other candidates, the designation of the committee would change to that of a general-purpose committee, however,for the purposes of formation, and the 2022 primary election cycle, this was/is a primarily formed committee. ———————————————

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 fund raising 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”. An online copy of this email can be found here (the subject line is the page title): https://mailchi.mp/72651e65321c/mayor-todd-glorias-voting-guide

However, Mayor Gloria’s name does not appear in the committee name, nor is he listed as a principal officer of this committee, nor does his name appear anywhere on the statement of organization, nor other campaign filings. Voters who received the multiple negative mailers sent by this committee would have no way of knowing that this committee represented Mayor Gloria.

Mayor Gloria cannot have it both ways – if this committee represents him and his interests, as it has been clearly portrayed (when convenient), his involvement needs to be publicly declared in voter communications, including negative communications.

Mayor Gloria’s name should appear in the name of the committee, as a sponsor or using a term to the effect of “representing Mayor Gloria”. His name should also be mentioned in the description of committee activities on the Form 410.

Mayor Gloria chose not to associate himself with the attached campaign mailers to avoid the scrutiny of being associated with such negative, misleading, and often blatantly false messaging.

However, this is why campaign disclosure rules exist, to allow voters to properly understand who is responsible for the communications. And given that this committee could never have received the ample donations from lobbyist and organizations currently lobbying the city of San Diego, that the committee used to produce over $170k of negative mail pieces, if it had not traded on the Mayor Gloria’s name, his name also needs to be associated with this campaign’s output.

The mailers associated with this committee contained verifiably false information.

Specifically, the mailer portrayed in NewSanDiego2_Front.jpg state “Big Oil Companies like Chevron showered Lori Saldana with lavish gifts worth $84,634., Source: San Francisco Chronicle: Lobbyist Gifts, Lavish But Legal.” However, this news article, from 2006, attached, states nothing of the sort. The dollar amount of $84,634 is never mentioned anywhere in the article, and no such reference is made to Former Assemblymember Saldana.

In the same mailer, it is stated that “They flew her [Lori Saldana] around the world and put her up in five star hotels in Brazil, Venezuela and Chile. Source: San Diego Union Tribune,’Officials oversees trips raise eyebrows’. “

This news article, which would have also been 16years old, could not be located, but Former Assemblymember Saldana has never been to Venezuela. This false quote may be interpreted as an attempt to negatively associate her with a unpopular foreign government.

In the attached mailer “NewSanDiego3_Back.jpg”, quoting the same article from the San Francisco Chronicle, the quote reads, “Assemblymember Lori Saldana accepted $4,811 last year…” This is deeply misleading because there is no citation of the year the article was published, which was 2006. Without this critical information, the obvious interpretation of this quote is that Lori Saldana accepted these gift last year (2021) ,when this is actually a reference to events that happened 16 years ago.

It is impossible to verify the majority of the statements made in the remaining campaign mailers, given they rely on a single news article, over 16 years old, that could not be located (San Diego Union Tribune, ‘Officials oversees trips raise eyebrows’). That said, given the obvious falsehoods already found, the remaining negative claims must also be viewed with skepticism.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mat Wahlstrom July 13, 2022 at 3:10 pm

Voters can only hope for justice on this.


Nanci Kelly July 13, 2022 at 8:45 pm

Thanks so much for your continued follow-up on this egregious, nontransparent campaign tactic. I emailed/called some of those involved (the mayor, his communication staff member, Gil Cabrera) and spoke, at length, to Jen Campbell’s campaign staff in LA, but lacked the specific knowledge of procedural requirements to submit an ethics complaint – even after Geoff’s superb reporting on the subject and attendance at the excellent informational forum. I’ve been fuming ever since election results came in, so am very thankful that the complaint has been filed. Thanks again to all involved – to Lori for running an upstanding race, and for the reporting and filing.


Leslie Bruce July 16, 2022 at 11:53 am

I am appalled that Todd Gloria would stoop to this level. This is not who I thought he was. Yet when I asked a former elected official about Gloria’s connections to Gil Cabrera, the “principal agent” of the New San Diego PAC according the Secretary of State’s office, she replied that he’s “Todd’s #1 henchman.” And did anyone else notice that the contributors to this PAC are largely the same ones to the Save Jen Campbell effort?


Deb Porter July 18, 2022 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for this clear and educational reporting..it’s tragic that our politicians trample the citizens rights and twist information. Gloria should know better, but he apparently thinks he can get away with all sorts of abuses to the citizenry. Take note of his pushing support for the settlement of the Ash St. debacle… giving the sellers even more than they negotiated for originally and leaving us with this uninhabitable , and apparently, unrepairable building. Its fraud, clear and simple.


Vern July 19, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Gloria is not to be trusted.
He’s a YIYBY (Yes In Your Back Yard) otherwise known as a YIMBY (a democrat/republiCon beholden to the corporate building & real estate investor industries).


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