Armored tanks, money and politics

A photo of the 2013 Caiman MRAP acquired by the San Diego Unified School District Police Department. The decals have been digitally rendered onto the vehicle. Courtesy: San Diego Unified School District.

A photo of the 2013 Caiman MRAP acquired by the San Diego Unified School District Police Department. The decals have been digitally rendered onto the vehicle. Courtesy: San Diego Unified School District.

San Diego Unified’s got a tank, sort of…

In a new story today, we tell you all about a giant armored vehicle, like the ones used in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the San Diego Unified School District got for free.

It was part of what’s called Program 1033, the Defense department’s Excess Property Program. That’s the one that sends unneeded military equipment like weapons and body armor to local police forces for no cost.

The program got national attention in the days following the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri when television audiences watched local police in military equipment facing down peaceful protesters. Much of that equipment was provided through the 1033 Program.

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So, why does the San Diego Unified School District Police Department need an MRAP (also known as a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle)? Check out Joe’s story and his database of other military equipment that’s made it’s way to local law enforcement agencies for the answer.

Carl Demaio

Carl Demaio at a campaign stop in 2012. Photo | Brad Racino, inewsource

Joining Forces

When Joe’s not tracking tank-like vehicles, he’s still following the money… in the 52nd congressional district race.

Joe took a good look at a new kind of political action committee: Joint Fundraising Committees (JFCs). Republican Carl DeMaio is pulling in cash from this by teaming up with another candidate to attract money from big names in the GOP gay rights movement.

In his story, Joe says the main JFC for DeMaio — Equality Leadership Fund — has funneled $143,075 to DeMaio’s coffers since it was formed last October.

“Equality Leadership Fund is an exclusive club with membership limited to just two candidates: Carl DeMaio and Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei,” Joe writes. “Tisei, who nearly knocked off a Democratic incumbent in 2012, is, like DeMaio, openly gay.

“Campaign spokesman Dave McCulloch said Tisei was a natural fundraising buddy for DeMaio.

“Carl thinks that Richard is going to be a good partner in Congress, and this is just one more example of Carl building coalitions of people to get stuff done — to build reform,” McCulloch said.”

Joe discussed the money in the race on NBC’s Politically Speaking. If you missed that segment, you can watch it here.

A meeting of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors inside the County Administration Center in San Diego, California, U.S. on Tuesday April 15, 2014.

A meeting of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors | Photo by Sam Hodgson

More County grants

Our newest reporter Leo Castaneda is still tracking grants county supervisors give to outside organizations.

He most recently looked at the Community Enhancement Program (CEP), which supports cultural activities, tourism and economic development. Its money comes from the Transit Occupancy Tax —  the tax people pay on hotel rooms — and it’s not subject to the same restrictions on gifts and name recognition as another program Leo examined, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program.

He explains the differences in his newest story here.

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About Lorie Hearn:

Lorie Hearn is the founder and executive director of inewsource.