Double the Money:

Mayor Filner exaggerates hotelier contributions

By Ryann Grochowski | inewsource

Mayor Filner at a campaign rally in November 2012  | Photo by Brad Racino

Mayor Filner at a campaign rally in November 2012 | Photo by Brad Racino

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner accused City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and several city council members of taking bribes in the form of campaign donations from hotel owners interested in keeping the proposed hotel occupancy tax alive, but an inewsource review of contributions shows the mayor exaggerated his claims.

The “tens of thousands of dollars” Filner asserted were far less than that, according to an analysis of campaign contributions dating back to 2007.

Filner leveled his accusations in an interview Thursday on the KUSI television morning show, saying, “They (hoteliers) have the votes, they have given campaign contributions to buy off the City Council.”

The comments were made when Filner, the City Council and the board of the city of San Diego’s Tourism Marketing District were still embroiled in a heated dispute over the promotion agency’s funding.

Filner called out Goldsmith by name.

“Jan Goldsmith, who has made rulings in this, has got tens of thousands of dollars from people who are on the TMD board and the major hoteliers who passed this thing,” he said.

Filner also accused Council President Todd Gloria and five other council members who support the tourism marketing district of being influenced by hoteliers’ donations.

“Todd Gloria did not have a campaign, and he got thousands of dollars from the people who are responsible for this contract today. Half of the council — I’m sure, I have not looked at those figures, but I bet it’s tens of thousands of dollars and up. What are they doing? Why are they giving this money? So they can get this kind of shady deal approved,” said Filner.

A look at Goldsmith’s campaign finance records for the 2008 and 2012 elections don’t show tens of thousands of dollars from hoteliers, but rather at least $12,000 combined between the two elections. And Gloria’s combined total from the two elections don’t hit the ten-thousand dollar mark. He received about $6800 from the hotel industry.

inewsource identified at least this many hotelier contributions for each candidate:

  • Goldsmith: $4150 (2012); $8,210 (2008)
  • Gloria: $2300 (2012); $4555 (2008)
  • Councilwoman Sherri Lightner: $11,225 (2012)
  • Councilman Mark Kersey: $25 (2012)
  • Councilman Kevin Faulconer: $11,770 (2010)
  • Councilman Scott Sherman: $9,085 (2012)
  • Councilwoman Lorie Zapf: $10,975 (2010)

Bribery accusations aside, by the end of the day, Filner, council and the TMD board came to an amended agreement to keep the tourism and marketing district in place.

inewsource reporter Kelly Paice and investigative assistant Michele Pluss contributed to this report.

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