The Carl DeMaio Campaign – Reform San Diego Koch Connection

Tell your friends, DeMaio said, that they don’t have to “live in socialism.”

By Doug Porter

startinglinelogoA report focusing on the thin line separating the Carl DeMaio for Congress campaign organization and the political advocacy group, Reform San Diego has shed new light on the former City Councilman’s relationship with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)4 organization that spends money in support of Republicans and against Democrats. Funded by billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, the group spent about $36.3 million in the 2012 federal elections.

The KPBS/inewsource story, authored by Claire Trageser and Brooke Williams, starts out with a vignette from fundraiser for DeMaio’s long-time political advocacy group, Reform San Diego, held less than three months after his defeat in the mayoral race. DeMaio has described the group as a “grassroots 527 Super-PAC campaign organization.”

It turns out that Americans for Prosperity have been ‘members’ of DeMaio’s ‘coalition for reform’ for several years now.

Quoting an invitation for winetasting event held near Lindberg Field, they call attention to the phrases “There is no cap or limit on the amount that can be donated,” and “Contributions can be personal or corporate.” Another “unlimited” event was held in April.

With about 100 people in attendance that January evening, DeMaio was introduced by San Diego City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, calling him “the future something,” because, she said, “Carl is never going away.” From the KPBS/inewsource account:

DeMaio rallied the audience, calling them “the loyal opposition.” Tell your friends, he said, that they don’t have to “live in socialism.”

“Our role is to be ready when San Diegans turn to us to pick up the pieces and lead,” DeMaio said. “And that day, my friends, will come.”

 While Zapf was talking about the “future something”, the GOP National Congressional Committee had more specific ideas, having shelled out $9,000 for polling on DeMaio’s behalf.

No long after the second fundraiser, the website for Reform San Diego changed their wording about contributions to correspond to Federal requirements for election cycles in congressional races. Corporate and business funds were no longer accepted.

 The names of staff, including DeMaio, also were removed from the website, and on May 8, DeMaio filed an amendment with San Diego’s elections authorities removing his name from the official title of the group.

Michele+Bachmann+americans-for-prosperity- Although DeMaio’s congressional campaign committee and Reform San Diego have the same mailing address and phone number, Reform San Diego, as a 527 PAC cannot directly advocate for the campaign. The Congressional candidate told KPBS/inewsource that contributions for Reform San Diego would not be used in his campaign. And, apparently, even though DeMaio remains as chair of the PAC and the phone is answered “You’ve reached the campaign office for Carl DeMaio”, federal election law is vague enough so this all is legal.

The news account goes on to tell us that Americans for Prosperity is, in fact, one of the members of Reform San Diego’s coalition. Participation in this alliance is something DeMaio has traditionally been closed mouth about. And we’ll never know how much money is involved.

In April, David Spady, state director for the California chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), told inewsource his group was working with DeMaio’s 527 and his project at Reason to promote local and state pension reform initiatives.

AFP was also a member of DeMaio’s coalition in 2010 when it released a “statement of unity” urging city officials to fight tax increases and reform pension costs, among other things. Spady said AFP has held press conferences, “pushed” videos out around the state, held town hall meetings and sent “large email blasts” to its members.

After last fall’s elections, the former city councilman went to work for as a scholar at the Reason Foundation, a Koch brothers funded think tank in Los Angeles that promotes libertarian public policies.  A vice president at the foundation told the reporters via email the think tank terminated its contract with DeMaio on the day he announced he would be running for Congress.

DeMaio’s trying to fool people with his campaign against Democratic Congressman Scott Peters  into thinking he’s some kind of “new” Republican. I’ll grant that the Koch brothers haven’t shown much of their largess to the fundamentalists on the right. But the rest of the “ideas” they support are just the same old GOP cheerleading for the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

UPDATE: inewsource has published a terrific interactive graph allowing you to visualize Carl DeMaio’s connections.

Issa #Fail – Complete Transcript of IRS Manager Interview Reveals… Nothing

Fail-MugFor six weeks now, Congressman Darrell Issa has been using his bully pulpit as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee to trumpet claims that Tea Party / Conservative citizen groups were subjected to extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service at the behest of the Obama administration.

Such claims fit in nicely with the larger meme being propagated by the right that Christians, conservatives and corporations are being persecuted by liberals and progressives. Somewhere in the not so recent past, conservative strategists realized that there was political mileage to be had by positioning themselves as victimized.

Rooting for the underdog is built into the American psyche, so rather than duke it out over actual ideas, these groups have cried wolf early and often. From the “War on Christmas” to ObamaCare “Death Panels”, the absence of actual evidence hasn’t stopped the right and their friends in the mass media.

So when a Congressman claimed to have testimony and facts proving repression, frenzy erupted in some conservative circles. “Impeach”…”Criminal Trial”… even “Jail Time” were all terms bandied about among the faithful.

This ado should have come to a halt yesterday, when Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings released to complete transcripts of June 6thinterviews conducted by Republican and Democratic committee staffers with IRS official John Shafer.

Shafer, who told the committee staffers he was “a conservative Republican” and had worked for the IRS since 1992, said that he and a fellow screener initially flagged a tea party group and continued to do so with other tax exempt requests in order to maintain consistency in the process.

From the Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney at the Huffington Post:

“What I’m talking here is that if we end up with four applications coming into the group that are pretty similar, and we assign them to four different agents, we don’t want four different determinations,” he said. “It’s just not good business. It’s not good customer service.”

Asked plainly, “do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?” Shafer replied, “I have no reason to believe that.”

“Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decisions to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?” he was asked. “I have no reason to believe that,” he replied.

Congressman Issa has been leaking out dribs and drabs of testimony gathered by staffers over the past couple of weeks, all of which seemed to suggest administration involvement. In anticipation of Congressman Cummings’ full release, Issa’s minions have been ballyhooing other testimony pointing to a DC connection.

Unfortunately for Darrell Issa, the IRS’ John Shafer also talked (pages 199 & 202 of the transcript) about the relationship between the Cincinnati field office and headquarters.  Again the smoking gun Republicans were desperately hoping for was nowhere to be found.

You can read the transcripts here and here.

So now it seems to me that the only scandal left to investigate in Washington is the “Who the Hell Put Darrell Issa in Charge of the Oversight Committee?” scandal.

Oh, and by the way, the UT-San Diego didn’t report on this story. Skipped it completely, even though the documents were released yesterday afternoon (DC time) and there were plenty of wire service reports. Facts, you know, are scary things.

Paranoia Only Counts if They’re After You

j-edgar-hoover-1-18-10A couple of paragraphs here of interest from an essay by Jeanne Theoharis in the Chronicle for Higher Education:

The FBI assistant director described the man as “demagogic” and “the most dangerous … to the nation … from the standpoint … of national security.” Subsequently, the U.S. Attorney General had signed off on intrusive surveillance of the subject’s living quarters, offices, phones, and hotel rooms, and those of his associates.

That immense threat to national security was not Anwar al-Awlaki, Bradley Manning, or Edward Snowden.

The demagogue was Martin Luther King Jr., and the attorney general who OK’d the surveillance was Robert F. Kennedy. It was 1963, and King had just given a powerful speech at the March on Washington where he talked about how America had given black people “a bad check” and they had come to demand “the security of justice.”  FBI surveillance of King expanded after the march and under the Johnson administration, particularly after King denounced U.S. policy in Vietnam, and continued until King’s assassination in 1968.

#FilnerEverywhere (Even in the Future)

While the local press continues to be less than kind to our current Mayor, San Diego is finally starting to get recognition around the country for being something other than “Enron by the Sea”.

An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday talks about how Mayor Filner turned a bitter political payback under the previous administration into a multimillion dollar windfall for San Diego taxpayers.

filnercpThe Pittsburgh Post Gazette ran with a featuring over the weekend profiling a native son doing well. (Filner grew up in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood). One thing brought to light in that article that I was unaware of was the Mayor’s father was among the American forces charged with sorting out the horrors of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.

What Joe [Filner] saw profoundly influenced his life and prompted him to detail the horrors in long letters to his toddler son. Bob Filner still treasures those letters. His father’s experiences inspired him always to take a stand.

Filner’s father has been mentioned in the local press, usually by trollish commenters claiming the deceased steel worker and union organizer was a member of the Communist Party, as if this was some sort of scandal that should taint the Mayor.

A Citywide Balboa Park Celebration

Among the Mayor’s more profound (and unheralded) accomplishments has been the re-energizing and prioritizing of plans for the 2015 Balboa Park centennial observations.

Gone is the Microsoftish “Edge 2015” moniker. Now it’s all about area wide events, including non-park based “spectaculars” throughout the county.

The Plaza de Panama will morph into Celebration Plaza, hosting international festivals; the Spreckels Organ Pavilion will transform into the Centennial Stage complete with first class audio and lighting included in its long-overdue renovation.

A press conference yesterday included the promise of four major events as part of the celebration:

  • A water and lights show on the bay to honor the Navy and Port of San Diego.
  • A made-for-television concert at Friendship Park on the U.S.-Mexico border featuring musical acts from both countries
  • A gala weekend with people dressed in period clothes and dancing to period music, the idea being that “The idea is that the entire park will come to life the way it was in 1915,”
  • The fourth event will be a surprise, organizers said

“It’s going to be more than a party, it’s going to celebrate who we are as a city. “We are going to invite the world,” said Mayor Filner.

He went on to promise that visitors will also see how the city leads in business sectors like health, communications and alternative energy, strong arts and culture, and how San Diego is a border city that celebrates its bi-national relationships.

Sounds like a party.

Here’s the really slick video. Disney’s got nothing on these guys when it comes to marketing. (Note the cameo by Irwin Jacobs)

On This Day:  1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate. 1968 – 50,000 people marched on Washington, DC. in support of the Poor People’s Campaign. 1988 – Over 3,000 East Germans gathered at the Berlin Wall to hear Michael Jackson.Jackson was performing a concert on the other side of the wall in West Berlin.

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Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarAndy Cohen says

    Well, insofar as the Tea Party is a “new(ish)” movement, DeMaio is accurate in saying he is a “new Republican.” But that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

  2. avatar says

    So where is this marketing video going to be shown – on TV? Is the idea to get a whole lot of people to visit San Diego in 2015 and stay at hotels and eat at restaurants. The place is going to be a madhouse just with San Diegans as it usually is in Balboa Park. Add in 4 or 5 million more and it’ll be a good place to stay away from until they all go home.

    • avatarDoug Porter says

      I don’t know where this marketing video will be shown. It’s most likely an in-house propaganda piece used to persuade potential participants / underwriters / travel writers.

      As to your negativity about the “madhouse” of tourists, if it really troubles you that much, set up a deal to rent your house out (make money!) and go hide somewhere where tourists aren’t welcomed. I hear El Centro is like that.

      I, for one, will take a positive attitude towards 2015. It’s gonna be fun, exciting and I look forward to showing off the city to lots of friends from around the country – as long as they promise not to move here, lol.