Midway Rising Fined $5,000 for Failing to File Lobbying Disclosure Until Nearly Year After Due

by on February 13, 2023 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Brad Termini, the CEO of Zephyr, part of Midway Rising. Termini and spouse were the largest donors to Gloria’s mayoral campaign.

The Voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keats broke a story at the end of last week that Midway Rising, the Sports Arena redeveloper, was fined $5,000 by the San Diego Ethics Commission for failing to submit a disclosure form that informed the public of its political investments until nearly a year after it was due.

Of course, it didn’t really matter as the San Diego City Council chose the partnership Midway Rising – pushed by Mayor Gloria – as the winning developer without the benefit of any disclosures. And Keats notes, “That made it impossible for the public to consider that political spending ahead of the city’s selection.”

In September 2022, the San Diego City Council chose the partnership Midway Rising, led by Zephyr development, to redevelop the Sports Arena.

At the end of his article, Keats reminds us:

In the days leading up to the City Council’s decision, Midway Rising and Mayor Todd Gloria’s office were fending off scrutiny over a different public disclosure: donations from Brad Termini, the CEO of Zephyr, to a political action committee that supported Gloria’s mayoral election. Termini and his wife donated $100,000 to a committee, sponsored by the labor union Laborers International Union of North America Local 89 in late 2019, ahead of the March 2020 mayoral primary.

(You may recall that the Rag was all over this.)

Gil Cabrera

But Keats also finds that the Ethics Commission settlement with the partnership that led to the fine  has revealed major spending the group made to a local political consultant. “That consultant guided the group’s political strategy ahead of the city’s selection, before the start of a separate campaign to lift the height limit on new development in the Midway area handled by other strategists.”

Midway Rising’s spending was for a “paid political consultant to advise respondents and to prepare external public communications regarding the development,” according to the settlement. The political consultant is not named in the disclosure or in the Ethics Commission’s settlement write up. But Midway Rising’s political consultant was Dan Rottenstreich, a strategist for many Democratic candidates and campaigns in the county.

The overdue disclosures concerned $154,000 that Midway Rising paid Rottenstreich between October 2021 and July 2022. Subsequent filings have brought the company’s total expenditure on Rottenstreich to $203,000. Rottenstreich said he was paid for helping craft the project’s image and the company’s messaging, political strategy and press relations, along with typical work like building the project’s website and placing social media ads.

Rottenstreich worked for Jen Campbell when she was fending off that recall campaign against her; he had some fairly nasty words for those attempting the campaign in the middle of the pandemic. He’s also the partner of the head of the one union that helped Campbell cement a deal with the homesharing corporation that led to the “compromise” on short-term vacation rentals that the city has implemented. We have seen how that has been so successful.

For Midway Rising, Rottenstreich’s job was to advise them and prepare “external public communications regarding the development,…” — in other words, he advised them on a public relations campaign. Expenditure lobbying, explains Keats, is the city’s category for any effort to influence a public decision, other than direct communications with city officials, that costs more than $5,000, and which include advertising, media communications, public outreach or creating reports and analyses that could build the case for a specific public decision.

Dan Rottenstreich

He told The Voice, “he was paid for helping craft the project’s image and the company’s messaging, political strategy and press relations, along with typical work like building the project’s website and placing social media ads.”

Keats also tells us:

The Ethics Commission did not levy the largest fine that it could, which would have been $15,000 — $5,000 for each of the late filings. Instead, they settled at $5,000 because the firm’s lawyer, Gil Cabrera, a former chair of the Ethics Commission, self-reported the violations after he was hired to audit the company’s books to make sure it had complied with the city’s ethics laws, the write-up of the settlement [SL3] says. It also says the disclosures would have been filed a day before the City Council vote if not for a technical issue with the city’s filing portal.

Nonetheless, the Ethics Commission listed eight significant milestones in the city’s selection process that occurred after Midway Rising should have submitted its first expenditure lobbyist disclosure.

“At each milestone, the public, other bidders, and city officials were denied and could have benefitted from having information contained in the disclosure forms,” the stipulation reads.

Do you recall Gil Cabrera? Good buddy of Mayor Todd?

Back last May, in the middle of the Primary, the Rag published a couple of posts on him:

  • Why Is Gil Cabrera – Chairman of Airport Authority Board and Founder of New San Diego – Publishing Smear Mailers About Lori Saldaña?
  • Complaint Lodged Against Gil Cabrera for Violating Airport Authority Ethics Code by Accepting Improper Donations to His Attack Group

And of course there was more.

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

And much more recently, there was this gem: Sports Arena Developer ‘Midway Rising’ Behind Slick Pro-Measure C Mailers That Lie About Affordable Housing

There’s certainly a lot of things that stink about all of this. Maybe some genius can sort it out for us.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John w Stump February 13, 2023 at 8:08 pm

Thank You for this Article on the lobbying activities by developers and failure to timely disclose these activities. Transparency failed in this circumstance.

Importantly, the San Diego Ethics Commission apparently has adopted a new fine discount rule. There shall be a sixty six percent discount (-66%) for lobbyists that turn themselves in after the government decision has been made.

This new precedence -66% Discount rule seems to encourage late filing and less transparency for the governmental processes. Does anyone know if there is an appeal, audit or Court oversight procedure for such rulings?


sealintheSelkirks February 16, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Money certainly does have a very large voice. Pay to play! When are ‘campaign contributions’ ever going to be called what they truly are?

BRIBERY is so legal in this country…except when you get pulled over for a broken tail-light. Then ‘contributing’ to the police benevolent fund becomes illegal… At least the Mexican cops used to take $20 to not give you a ticket for something you didn’t do anyway, right?


This entire ‘development’ should be cancelled, re-thought out, and all the alternatives re-examined, and then a new round of bidding resumed with all of it being submitted to a vote by the people as to what should be done with the Midway District. Special elections should be the rule not relying on compromised politician’s decisions.

Pretty damned sad that people are so inured to political corruption that they just don’t care anymore. Big sigh. Is it any wonder that half the population doesn’t even vote in this country when this is all they get from both sides of the 1-party corporate state because, honestly, that’s what we’re living under. The wealthy who own the corporation make the rules because they paid for it.

I’m so disgusted.



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