San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis lags in fundraising among legal professionals

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis lags in fundraising among legal professionals

Real estate movers and shakers big donors to both campaigns

In addition to a lot of lawyers, several local business owners, developers and other well-heeled individuals were major donors to both Brewer’s campaign committee and the independent expenditure committee backing him.

The biggest contributor in the entire campaign is Malin Burnham, vice chairman of international commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Burnham, a well-known San Diego developer and philanthropist, donated $20,700 in support of Bob Brewer. He funneled $20,000 through San Diegans for Better Justice and contributed $700 directly to Brewer’s campaign.

Burnham did not respond to requests for comment left with his office.

The next two largest donors in the race were also Brewer backers.

One was his wife, retired federal judge Irma Gonzalez, who donated $10,000 to San Diegans for Better Justice and $700 to Brewer’s campaign. Election law prohibits independent committees such as San Diegans for Better Justice from coordinating with candidate campaigns and soon after the donation was reported in late March, Dumanis’ supporters began questioning how such a donation could be made without the knowledge of the candidate.

Bob Brewer and wife Irma Gonzalez. Credit: courtesy photo.

Bob Brewer and wife Irma Gonzalez. Credit: courtesy photo.

Gonzalez later announced she would request the donation be returned, telling U-T San Diego “I never talked to my husband about [the contribution], I never communicated with anyone on his campaign about it.”

Another major Brewer backer, who similarly gave $10,000 to San Diegans for Better Justice and $700 to the Brewer campaign, was Annie Malcolm. Malcolm is the president of real estate firm Suncoast Financial Corporation.

Her husband, Suncoast Financial Corporation Chairman David Malcolm, gave $700 to Brewer’s campaign committee.

Annie Malcolm did not respond to a request for comment left with her husband.

The $10,000 contribution from Brewer’s wife isn’t the only controversial one supporters of the the former assistant U.S. attorney have made.

Nancy Louise Fletcher, a former mayor of Del Mar, made a $700 contribution to Brewer’s campaign in June of last year.

In 1989, Fletcher, then named Nancy Hoover Hunter, was convicted of four counts of tax evasion as part of a federal investigation into a local Ponzi scheme that ensnared many of San Diego’s moneyed elite.

Last month, Dumanis demanded that Brewer — who represented Fletcher at the trial — return the contribution, arguing that some of the fraud’s victims never got their money back.

Brewer refused, arguing that Fletcher had paid her debt to society and was within her rights to make political contributions. He accused the Dumanis campaign of hypocrisy, given the fact that Dumanis’ 2012 San Diego mayoral campaign allegedly accepted illegal foreign contributions.

The Dumanis campaign also had some well-known locals ponying up major cash.

Dumanis doesn’t have an independent committee supporting her and so the most any individual can contribute to support her campaign is $1,400 — $700 for the primary and $700 that the campaign must set aside for the general election.

Among Dumanis’ maxed-out donors are Scott McMillin, chairman of real estate firm The Corky McMillin Companies, and his wife Susan McMillin. They donated $1,400 a piece to Dumanis’ campaign. The McMillins each donated to the 2013-2014 mayoral campaigns of Kevin Faulconer and Nathan Fletcher.

Mark McMillin, president and CEO of the company, donated $700 to the Dumanis campaign.

Two other McMillin employees contributed a combined $900 to Dumanis.

The McMillins did not respond to a request for comment left with a spokeswoman for The Corky McMillin Companies.

inewsource investigative researcher Emily Burns contributed to this report.

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How inewsource analyzed campaign contributions

While the city of San Diego, the state of California and the federal government all track campaign contributions to candidates electronically, San Diego County never invested in the required software. Instead, candidates for county offices such as district attorney, only file paper reports. Because a single report may contain hundreds of individual contributions, such paper documents are effectively impossible to analyze.

So, inewsource requested the electronic files the campaigns use internally to record contributions in order to perform the analysis. Both the Brewer and Dumanis campaigns as well as San Diegans for Better Justice provided the files. Wyatt's campaign declined, citing concerns that disclosing the electronic files would reveal donors who contributed less than $100 in order to remain anonymous.

The information contained in the electronic files is identical to that contained in the publicly-available paper reports. As such, the files should not contain information on individuals who have contributed less than $100.

To ensure that Wyatt's contributions were included in the analysis, inewsource manually entered the information from her paper reports.

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About Joe Yerardi:

Joe Yerardi
Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email joe.yerardi@gmail.com.