Head of Circulate San Diego Has Been Soliciting Donations to the Non-Profit While Serving on La Mesa City Council

by on May 9, 2023 · 10 comments

in San Diego

By Jeff McDonald / San Diego Union-Tribune / May 7, 2023

Last month, La Mesa Vice Mayor Colin Parent signed a public disclosure acknowledging he solicited a $5,500 donation from a major developer to Circulate San Diego, the charity for which he serves as chief executive officer.

It was the 68th time in the last five years that Parent reported seeking cash contributions to his employer, according to records released by the La Mesa City Clerk’s Office at the request of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Since April 2018, the La Mesa Democrat has disclosed almost $700,000 in what are called behested payments — donations to charities by companies and individuals that are made at the suggestion, or behest, of an elected or appointed official. All of the contributions were directed to Circulate San Diego, which Parent has run for years.

The second-term council member, who announced last month that he is running for state Assembly, said there is nothing unusual about steering donations to his employer.

But political experts and good-government groups say the behested payments are questionable. For Parent as an elected official to ask donors for money to support an organization that he also manages raises the specter of conflicts of interest, they said. “Even if everything is legal, the public perception is horrible,” said Sean McMorris of California Common Cause, a nonprofit group that promotes government transparency.

“As an elected official, when you’re involved in this kind of activity, where money is exchanged at an elected official’s request, the public has every right to question whether a public official’s loyalty is with that donor or with the public,” McMorris said of the solicited donations.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam May 9, 2023 at 4:36 pm

What a d bag!


Paul Webb May 10, 2023 at 10:32 am

I’ve been complaining about Colin Parent for a long time on this and other forums. I don’t mind people making money, but making public policy that also allows them to make money should not be legal. Yes, he recused himself when necessary, but taking behests that go to pay his salary is outrageous.


Greg May 10, 2023 at 12:00 pm

Circulate San Diego;s major accomplishments are all related to upzoning because it makes money for well-capitalized interests. There are other ways to increase housing stock and make housing more affordable, but they don’t make money for large corporate interests. Circulate pushes upzoning, Colin Parent gets donations, suddenly he’s running for higher office….$$$


Vern May 11, 2023 at 9:59 am

Good point, Greg. Thank you.


Chris May 11, 2023 at 6:26 am

Hey Paul, I don’t know if you saw my responses on the other article but I meant to respond to Phil, not you so again sorry for the confusion.


Paul Webb May 11, 2023 at 10:35 am

Well, I was wondering…


Chris May 11, 2023 at 12:10 pm

I have attention to detail issues sometimes lol.


Paul Webb May 11, 2023 at 1:30 pm

In my case, it’s called alter cocker syndrome.


Frank Gormlie May 10, 2023 at 11:02 am

Colin once complained that his name appeared on the Rag so many times that google thought he was part of the staff.


Frank Gormlie May 10, 2023 at 4:12 pm

Here are some articles by Colin Parent at Voice of San Diego:

Public Benefits Define Midway Proposal
by Frank Wolden, Aruna Doddapaneni and Colin Parent July 21, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s selection of a plan for the Sports Arena property will have a profound impact on the community’s ability to advance the vision of the Midway Community Plan adopted two years ago.

Community Planning Groups Should Follow State and City Rules
by Colin Parent and Matt Stucky April 4, 2019

San Diego’s Community Planning Groups Are Excluding New Voices
by Colin Parent February 12, 2018


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