By Doug Porter
San Diego County’s District Attorney is getting a lot of heat as reporters continue to unearth new details about a campaign finance scandal spanning the last couple of years.
Prosecutors have determined that more than $200,000 was illegally funneled into independent campaign committees in support of her failed mayoral candidacy in 2012. UT-San Diego ran a front page story claiming candidate committees directly under Dumanis’ control received $13,250 connected to three persons connected with the ongoing investigation.
Calls for an additional investigation are mounting. The District Attorney has returned $1,400 in contributions to her current re-election campaign since the scandal unfolded and is refusing to re-open earlier campaign committees to give back monies from earlier contests.
Former City Attorney Mike Aquirre told 10News that it’s time for federal investigators took look into the matter, including Dumanis’ apparent lack of action after learning, via a City Beat article in May 2012, about an illegal $100,000 contribution to a political action committee from Mexican tycoon Susumo Azano.
Robert Brewer, one of two former prosecutors running against Dumanis in 2014, has called for a full accounting of her connections to the defendants named in the complaint. His campaign has garnered widespread support from law enforcement groups, who have publicly complained about the politicalization of the prosecutor’s office under her administration.
Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association told NBC7News: “We’ve been disappointed with Bonnie’s communication with our communities. It seems we only hear form her when election day approaches. She has consistently placed politics above her responsibilities as D.A.”
Opponent Terri Wyatt told 10News “It erodes the trust in the district attorney when you have this going on, when she’s connected to that.”
Following the revelation that the DA lunched with Azano at his Coronado home (at a date she cannot recall), she met with UT-San Diego reporters…
…and repeatedly said she intends to return no further contributions. She noted that most of the money was given to her mayoral campaign, which has been closed out and is therefore not in a position to cut checks.
Dumanis told UT-TV:
“I have nothing to hide. My name is being dragged through the mud because I met somebody. I had nothing to do with that committee.”
Congressman Darrell Issa’s Scummy Friends
The man who would seemingly move mountains to investigate allegations about President Obama’s flatulence and who’d rather leak selected portions of confidential document than tell the truth has gone all in for the “legalized loan sharking” industry.
On January 8th House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the Justice Department of “using its civil investigative power” to “inappropriately target two lawful financial services: third-party payment processing and online lending.”
Here’s the skinny, via Think Progress:
Each year, millions incur long-term debt by taking out a short-term loan that’s intended to cover borrowers’ expenses until they receive their next paychecks. Most take out nine repeat loans per year with an interest rate as high as 400 percent. Forty-four percent of borrowers ultimately default, even after paying back their loans several times over, and thus are pushed ever closer to poverty. Critics have called the practice “legalized loan sharking” and describe the industry as “bottom feeders.” In recent years, major banks have also joined in the practice.
In recent weeks, the U.S. Department of Justice began to take aim at the big banks that illegally help payday lenders rip off consumers. “Operation Choke Point” is a massive investigation into whether banks help payday lenders illegally siphon billions of dollars from consumers’ checking accounts in exchange for a fee. Some banks, which offered loans of their own, recently announced they would get out of the payday lending business entirely to avoid a separate regulatory crackdown.
Hey Kids! Kevin Faulconer Lied to You
By all accounts the young people who worked on formulating questions for the mayoral candidates at Saturday’s Hoover High debate did a great job. They asked heartfelt questions about crime, bullying and neighborhood resources.
From Speak City Heights, via Voice of San Diego:
..The forum in City Heights hosted by San Diego 6and community groups Mid-City CAN Youth Council and Cesar Chavez Service Club had a decidedly different feel than most political debates, thanks to youth panelists like Roosevelt Middle School sixth grader Hiyab Seadedin.
She thanked her mom before throwing a hardball at the candidates, asking them how they’d give young people from underserved communities a better chance of competing in San Diego’s job market.
Both candidates said they’d invest in underserved communities to create jobs and give youth the resources they need to be competitive. Alvarez said he’d use federal development dollars to do the job. Faulconer said pension reform, which he supports, would cover some of the cost.
Faulconer’s been hauling out that “pension reform” line as a cure-all for funding just about any city service people ask about. It’s too bad that the potential savings won’t materialize until 2018. His first term, should he be elected, will end in 2016. So, yeah, kids, the man lied to you. Be sure to go home and tell your parents about Kevin Faulconer, Republican.
Eeek! It’s the The State of the Union Speech
There will likely be an hour or so this evening when regular broadcast network programming will be interrupted by the President’s Annual State of Union address to the nation. As we’ve learned from the past four years, he’ll say lots of warm and fuzzy things and ask Congress to work with him on other warm and fuzzy things. Congress will promptly ignore him.
This year things will likely be a little different, according to news media reports this morning. They’re saying President Obama will be taking more executive actions, signing off on policies providing some small workarounds towards achieving his agenda.
From the New York Times:
President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.
The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress without cooperation on Capitol Hill.
I’ll save you the trouble of tuning in to any of the three Republican responses or the Faux News analysis, along with the chain email your crazy uncle will probably forward in the next couple of days.
You’ll likely see GOP talking heads going crazy over this executive order strategy. It segues nicely into the Obama dictatorship conspiracy theories beloved by the Tea Party set.
Here’s an inconvenient fact to consider: President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president over the past 100 years. Follow that link to see a handy-dandy chart with the current president just ahead of Grover Cleveland’s output. (FDR & Hoover are nos. one & two, respectively)
I have no doubt the viral email about Obama’s 923 executive orders will make the rounds, also. It’s been thoroughly debunked. Sorry, gang, the United Nations troops won’t be coming to march your granny out to the Death Panel Concentration Camps anytime soon.
Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger
Folksinger, banjo expert and American icon Pete Seeger died yesterday at age 94. NPR had a great audio tribute by Paul Brown and a nice round up of media reactions:
The New York Times says of Seeger that his career “carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.”
And the Times notes that Seeger “was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ’50s and ’60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock.”
Seeger’s influence went well beyond folk music. He’s a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which says of Seeger that in his “capable hands, from the ’40s to the present day, a concert isn’t regarded as a one-way proceeding but a group singalong.”
According to The Associated Press, “Seeger’s grandson, Kitama Cahill-Jackson said his grandfather died peacefully in his sleep around 9:30 p.m. at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been for six days. Family members were with him.”
Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955:
I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.
On This Day:1978 – At the request of a fan, Ted Nugent autographed a man’s arm with a bowie knife. 1980 – Six Americans who had fled the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, on November 4, 1979, left Iran using false Canadian diplomatic passports. The Americans had been hidden at the Canadian embassy in Tehran. 1986 – The space shuttle Challenger exploded just after takeoff. All seven of its crewmembers were killed.
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Here’s Seeger at Obama’s first inaugural:
Looks like Obama was singing along a little. I wonder if he sang along to the verse
“A great high wall there
It tried to stop me
A great big sign there
Said Private Property
But on the other side
While on the other side
It didn’t say nuthin’
That side is made for you and me” ?
Jay Powell says
Pete Seeger passes on. Thanks Doug for posting “To My Old Brown Earth” video and your article honoring one of America’s greatest who graced our planet for 94 trips around our star. I confess I could not follow his charge not to cry listening to his voice and singing. Clear water, clear sailing into the cosmos, wonderful soul…”for now I’m yours and you are also mine…”
Anna Daniels says
Pete Seeger has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. He won’t be less a part of my life with his passing.
I remember him best when I have stood side by side with other people, singing about justice, commitment and community. Long live Pete Seeger.
Alexander Press/Smithsonian Folkways offers a free download of world/folk music. The one for this month just arrived in my inbox a couple of minutes ago. It is Pete Seeger singing Buffalo Gals.
dave stutz says
Aguirre is right for a change. San Diegos’ Chief Law Enforcement officer would have us believe that in early 2012 she is invited to a meet and greet at the home of a billionaire from Mexico where “morida” is a way of life by her good friend a SDPD ex Vice cop. She can’t remember who was there or what was discussed but does remembers his exotic cars. Starting in 2011 $10,000 + shows up in her campaign account from the Chase and Azano family and in June $100,000 into a Pac in her race for mayor because she is tired being DA. She comes in last in the election and closes out her campaign account by paying herself excess contributions of $20000 but won’t return the dirty contributions. Her newest Deputy DA could break this story.
bob dorn says
Still OTJ, Dave Stutz, who learned how this stuff was done and busted the doing of it. And to all the locals who are still capable of dismay at the levels reached by many, too many, San Diego politicians and power seekers, the truth can still be reported, though still with great difficulty.
This town is your town… this town is our town.
Andy Cohen says
It’s important to keep in mind that just because she met with the guy doesn’t in and of itself mean anything at all. There are no rules prohibiting any public official from meeting with a foreign national, or really anyone else, for that matter.
This is not evidence of anything other than the fact that she had a conversation with the man. For all we know they could have discussed the migratory patterns of the Pacific bottlenose dolphin in June.
We cannot assume at this point that she knew about the money laundering scheme. For all she knew, the money came directly from Chase himself–not an unreasonable assumption since Chase is a well known, wealthy businessman. As of yet, there is no evidence that she had direct knowledge of Azano’s involvement in the donations. That’s what the investigation is seeking to prove. And whether she knew about it or not, the law prohibits her from becoming involved with the activities of the independent expenditure committee formed on her behalf. She is provided cover in that regard, and thus is legally protected.
Doug Porter says
This story is about what’s not obvious.
It’s not obvious, but for some reason just about everybody who wears a badge in this county is opposing her.
It’s not obvious, but how many investigations into local corruption never made it past her desk? (The one case I know about for sure ended with the whistleblower signing a non-disclosure agreement.)
It’s not obvious, but why are former assistant DA’s (like Dave Stutz, who commented above) endorsing her opponent?
It should be obvious that the local plutocracy needs a little help from time to time. Or that all these downtown types are saints. (you pick)
It is obvious that the DA has done a good job of CYA. The likelihood her of ever having any legal difficulties from this scandal is low.
But it sure as hell seems to me like something’s rotten here.
Andy Cohen says
Fair enough, and all the things you listed above are exactly why we have elections. Voters will get to decide on her trustworthiness and fitness for the office she’s held for over a decade at the ballot box. From the current looks of things, her prospects do not look good.
But the prescient point here is that a mere meeting with the man, and the fact that he funneled money to an independent expenditure committee that was formed on her behalf is not an indicator of anything sinister on her part. And if you think about it, the way the law is set up is sort of a double edged sword with regards to the IEC’s. The law says there can be NO coordination between the IEC’s and the official campaign. Which means she can’t interfere with or direct any expenditures, and that they operate independently and without her knowledge.
On the other hand, if she did know, or have an inkling that something shady was going on, that same law gives her cover. It’s an IEC. Neither she nor her campaign staff are allowed to have anything to do with it. She has plausible deniability, and as long as there are no records indicating direct coordination, she’s still free and clear.
Again, just like with Filner, it’s not illegal to meet with the man. There are legitimate circumstances where a candidate for mayor, mayor, or district attorney might have cause to meet with a “foreign national.” She may have done a lot of things that will ultimately bring an end to her tenure as DA, but this ain’t one of them.
bob dorn says
Andy, you have more angles than a porcupine.
Andy Cohen says
Bob, you are a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.