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Endorsement Time at the GOP Corral: Mayoral and Assembly Candidates Continue Political Shootout

Saturday, March 17, 2012
posted by South Bay Sunnycrest

Bi-polor disorder on the part of committee members? Did members overlook the background of an Assembly candidate?

(If you enjoy reading, this will be a nice lengthy post filled with information that will — quite literally — blow your mind.)

The DeMaio Endorsement

With the political campaign season in high gear and the Republican Party of San Diego County endorsing candidates for public office, many political observers were shocked when San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio recently received a nod of support during the first round of voting by the party’s faithful. DeMaio was endorsed by over two-thirds of the Central Committee to become the next mayor of the City of San Diego. DeMaio received the endorsement over fellow Republicans District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.

On the surface, in the match-up between DeMaio and Fletcher, it would appear that a barrage of last minute attacks pointing out Fletcher’s less than conservative public record while serving in the legislature may have contributed to DeMaio’s razor thin victory, which required two-thirds of the vote to secure the endorsement.

The reality is that the early morning gathering at the Rancho Bernardo Inn may have resulted in committee members forgetting to take their medications, thus causing some bi-polar activity when making endorsement decisions.

Hodges denied for being too conservative?

While party activists seemed to punish Fletcher for not being conservative enough, the vote for State Assembly endorsements in the newly drawn District 76, which is being vacated by Assemblyman Martin Garrick, seemed to punish Sherry Hodges for being too conservative. Former school board member and legislative aide Hodges is running for the open seat against Carlsbad Councilwoman Farrah Douglas and former Oceanside Councilman Rocky Chavez. Political odds makers would have considered Hodges the favored candidate to receive the party’s support, but she missed receiving the party’s coveted endorsement by only a two vote margin.

These actions by the Central Committee members definitely had the markings of someone suffering from a bi-polar disorder. On one hand, one of the Republican Party’s “rising stars” seemed to be quickly extinguished for not being conservative enough or taking a strong enough stand in support of fiscal reform measures, while Hodges, a fiscal conservative who has championed conservative causes for years, was denied the same nod of support that was given to DeMaio.

Let’s not forget those public records that committee members pored over leading up to the mayoral endorsement. As a State Assemblyman, Fletcher definitely has a record, but then again so does Carlsbad councilwoman Farrah Douglas. Those records seemed to have been lost or at the very least overlooked.

The Douglas background

Farrah Douglas joined the Carlsbad City Council in 2010 after being elected in what was her second attempt to seek public office. Without even finishing her first term on the council, she is now seeking higher office in the State Assembly. It also means seeking a bigger taxpayer funded paycheck. Members of the State Assembly earn an annual base salary of $95,291 plus perks and benefits. During her time on the city council Douglas has also accumulated an impressive record; however, many of those records seem to be contained in court filings rather than council meeting minutes.

Douglas’s campaign to seek higher office is based upon her self proclaimed skills that she acquired as a successful business owner. Depending on which public records you are reviewing, Douglas or her husband own a small printing business in Carlsbad. Corporate records with the California Secretary of State indicate that the business is owned by Mr. Douglas while court records and the California Board of Equalization report that the business is owned by Mrs. Douglas.

During February 2010, Mrs. Douglas entered into a confidential written settlement agreement with the landlord where her business was located after being sued and evicted for unpaid rent in an amount just over $100,000 (view court record). The following month she was again back in court, this time being sued by her bank for delinquent credit cards in the amount of just over $11,974 and $9,261 (view here and here).

Her public record does not end there.

On March 14, 2011 a Notice of Trustee’s Sale (view document) was filed with the San Diego County Recorder publishing information that Douglas’s private residence had been foreclosed and would be sold at auction on the steps of the downtown courthouse. But the Douglas residence was not sold, as the minimum opening bid of $921, 401.56 was not reached, likely the result of real estate market conditions. The residence was again put up for auction. Fortunately for Douglas, considering her financial difficulties, she was able to bring the mortgage current prior to losing the residence.  (From Admin: Please note this information has been retracted. See update below.)

Sources familiar with the Douglas campaign tell this loyal San Diego Rostra contributor that another record was overlooked by committee members during the endorsement process. The Fair Political Practices Commission – the state enforcement agency that oversees political campaigns — is investigating a complaint against Douglas for campaign finance irregularities (view complaint). The nature of the complaint alleges the funneling of campaign contributions for personal use by overpaying what was supposed to be loan repayments.

The complaint also accuses Douglas of taking contributions totaling $24,785 (view donations) from an L.A. developer and violating California’s conflict of interest laws. The developer owns a 26 acre Cannon Road parcel of property near Legoland that is subject to the controversial Prop D measure that was approved by voters in 2006. The complaint alleges that council meeting records show Douglas violated state conflict of interest laws on two occasions. During one of those meetings, the complaint cites, she voted on zoning ordinances that directly affected the property owned by the developer.

Douglas may have simply overlooked the fact that she received campaign contributions from the developer in question and inadvertently cast her vote, but state investigators probably will not overlook what the complaint further alleges, that Douglas appears to have intentionally attempted to conceal her actions by requesting that city council meeting minutes be revised to reflect something different from what actually occurred at the meetings.

Fortunately for the people of Carlsbad, all city council meetings are videotaped so one can see what actually occurred compared to the minutes of the meeting. This Rostra blogger found the meeting of June 7, 2011 (watch video) of particular interest when Douglas voted on the Prop D – Cannon Road Agricultural and Open Space Lands zoning ordinances, since the approved minutes from the meeting report that she recused herself from voting on the matter.

The Republican Party of San Diego County is arguably one of the best organized and most effective political entities in the country, garnering respect from both friends and foes. Central Committee members who make up the membership of the party are also known for their unmatched dedication and commitment. There is a growing consensus within political circles that California’s role in the upcoming election will be pivotal with San Diego being ground zero with pension reform, targeted congressional races, a mayoral race and by virtue of being the adopted hometown of presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

So, were the endorsements or lack thereof the result of a psychological problem or caused by political parties operating in a post-Prop 14 world in which decisions are being made earlier in anticipation of the political battles to come? Regardless of the reason, one thing is for sure. North County voters will need to do their homework before deciding who to send to Sacramento.

# # #

UPDATE From Admin 3/22/12, 3:15 p.m.

(Posted below and in a stand-alone blog entry.)

In response to this post of last Saturday, SD Rostra was contacted on behalf of Carlsbad City Councilmember and State Assembly candidate Farrah Douglas to take issue with the post’s depiction of some of her background, specifically the paragraph regarding a March 2011 Notice of Trustee sale related to her private residence.

Those contacting Rostra noted that the Douglas property had in fact not been foreclosed and that further references to a sale of the residence in the paragraph were also incorrect. Although the post does note that “…she was able to bring the mortgage current prior to losing the residence,” the communication to Rostra indicated that this specifically involved a loan modification, no different than that being done by thousands of home owners.

After discussing the matter with the post’s author, we agree the paragraph in question — while unintentional — was misleading to the point of being largely inaccurate.  Rather than get into nuances over differences between phrases such as “had been foreclosed” and “facing foreclosure,” or simply indicating the wording could have been more carefully chosen, we would like to retract the information in question.  We have corrected the post to reflect as much.

We regret the error and apologize to Ms. Douglas and our readers for the inaccurate information.

None of the other points the post raised were called into question in the communication sent to Rostra.  However, the day of publication an offer was extended to the Douglas campaign to submit a statement in response to the post or a stand-alone guest column. We understand that Ms. Douglas may be submitting a column in the days ahead.

Thank you,

Rostra Admin

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9 Responses to “Endorsement Time at the GOP Corral: Mayoral and Assembly Candidates Continue Political Shootout”

  1. Not Impressed says:

    South Bay Sunnycrest-

    I applaud you for breaking this story bc we should want full disclosure from all candidates running in every race. This is interesting to read about Farrah’s financial troubles and casts serious doubts about her portrayal of herself as a “business leader” in North County.

    However, why do you make a point of mentioning Farrah seeking a larger taxpayer pay funded paycheck when Sherry is doing the same thing?

    From the Sac Bee’s website Sherry Marie Hodges made over 30K as an assistant in 2011.

    Do you have any information on what Sherry’s current or most recent earnings were at the expense of taxpayers?

  2. PeanutGallery says:

    Not Impressed:

    Good point about the paycheck. I don’t know exact numbers but I do know that Hodges was a former Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Diane Harkey. It is likely that the $95K would be a paycut for Hodges. Don’t know where you got the other numbers. What I gleaned from the post was that it appears Douglas is running for office because she needs a paycheck due to her financial problems. I’m sure that she only gets a small stipend for attending city council meetings and nothing near the $95K that she would get in the Assembly. Would also be interesting to know if Chavez’s motivation for running is financially motivated.

  3. Brian Brady Brian Brady says:

    I don’t think the paycheck matters as motivation. $95K isn’t a ton of money in San Diego and most candidates can earn more than that in the private sector I’m more interested on how they will act once they get into office.

    It is noteworthy to recognize that the conservative Hodges, and moderate Fletcher, share the same political consultant. It is also noteworthy to recognize that Douglas and Garrick do, too. This may be the influencing factor if one believes that consultants are the ones driving the campaigns.

  4. Not Impressed says:

    Thanks PeanutGallery.

    I just did a query on the Sac Bee’s website for state employee salaries to find the 30K number for Sherry.

    Do you know what Sherry’s current employment is? Her ballot designation states “Principal Legislative Director” but is that for an elected official or the state of CA? – I dont know.

    I agree with the Chavez question.

    After initially reading the article I missed the angle that Farrah is running bc she needs the money but can see that possibility now.

    Regardless if that is the case, one could say the same of Sherry since she is currently or formerly dependent on taxpayers for her livelihood, right? That was the point I was making.

    Thanks for your additional insight, Peanut Gallery.

  5. Trivial Pursuit /Jeopardy answer: California state legislators.

    The question: What class of major political office holders in California receives no pension at all (except social security) since 1990?
    http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/about/benefits-overview/retirement/lrs-benefits.xml

    Just an FYI.

  6. Jim Sills says:

    Richard:

    Thanks in considerable part to the late, great Peter Schabarum, who qualified State term limits as Proposition 140 in 1990, and included a pension ban in that initiative.

    Schabarum was not intimidated by Willie Brown, or anyone else, having played NFL football in the 1950s with the 49ers. Term limits are his enduring monument.

  7. Thor's Assistant Thor's Assistant says:

    We will of course offer a guest commentary opportunity to Farrah Douglas, either as a rebuttal, a statement in this regard, or simply a message about her campaign. A message has been left for her inviting her to do so.

  8. Alger says:

    Jim,

    The banning of pensions for state legislators may have been a good idea, but term limits have unquestionably been an unmitigated disaster.

  9. D. Morton says:

    Politics were at play in the endorsement process of the political organization? Shocking!!!

    Follow the member comm money when it starts rolling in, the consultant fees/commissions, and the origins, and you’ll see who’s bread is getting buttered where and by whom. Then, suddenly, the entire endorsement process will make sense.

    There was a time that the RPSD had solid endorsement rules that maximized the value of the endorsement by setting pre-determined criteria for what it means to carry the party banner. Now its a contest where the winner will be the one that is perceived to bring the party the most member comm dollars – of which the participants will all get their cut.

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