Who does Carl DeMaio owe?

Friday, January 20, 2012

At last week's debate, Scott Lewis asked Carl DeMaio point blank whether DeMaio feels he owes his supporters. Quite openly, he assured the audience that as a politician "I do owe my supporters" Pressed as to what happens if one of those people has business with the city, DeMaio claimed that it's a non-issue because "we have not had any contract process where I'm awarding a contract." So, who exactly is it that Carl DeMaio owes, and when might he be in a position to owe them?

Let's start with whether DeMaio has anything to do with awarding contracts. According to campaign finance reports, in 2007, DeMaio received more than $2,700 in contributions from private waste management companies, including Allied Waste. In December 2009 DeMaio voted to transfer the city's franchise for solid waste management to... Allied Waste Management! In February 2011, DeMaio was pushing to outsource trash services to private contractors, and on September 26, 2011, DeMaio was part of the 5-3 majority to put privatizing the city's landfill out to bid. Maybe he wouldn't be voting on contracts as mayor, but it certainly seems like his donors have already benefited from a politician who says he owes them.

In that same 2007 campaign cycle, DeMaio pulled in nearly $10,000 in contributions from hotel executives. After that, DeMaio pushed to protect hotel developers from public oversight, even though at the debate he was declaring "I think open government is a principle that you do not violate for any reason; the ends never justify the means. What do you fear with public participation and public review and input? Why fear it?" In 2010, he voted for a lease agreement bailout with Bartell Hotels designed to head off bankruptcy. The Bartell family was good for more than $1,600 in contributions in 2007.

DeMaio had raked in well over $100,000 in campaign contributions over the years from real estate and development interests by the end of 2010, and he added another $50,000 from more than 180 developers, government contractors, and lobbyists in the first half of 2011. So if he owes them, what should we really expect when they have different priorities than ordinary taxpayers? How much would DeMaio owe them when dealing with major development projects?

Even more striking, 'Reforming City Hall with Carl DeMaio' received a whopping $50,000 check from contracting corporation Bergelectric back in 2010. Bergelectric does a lot of business in San Diego, received am $8.2 million contract for electrical work on largest pump stations in the City of San Diego, and is on the City's preferred contractors list. Any reason to think they're done bidding on city contracts, especially if the next mayor 'owes them?' Does anybody want another Sweetwater?

But most of all, the largest bankroller of Carl DeMaio's campaigns has been millionaire Carl DeMaio himself. He brought in millions playing both sides against the middle at the federal level, coaching Bush Administration officials how to outsource for lower wages and coaching government contractors to provide lower-paying jobs. since then, Carl "Don't people know I'm a man of means now?...I drive a BMW!" DeMaio has dumped hundreds of thousands of his own money into advancing his own political career. If he owes the people who back his campaigns, millionaire Carl DeMaio most of all owes himself. What does that mean if the public interest gets int he way of his personal ambition?

There are a few people whose personal interests have so far been in line with Carl DeMaio's personal interests. But now that we know who he 'owes,' does anyone want to gamble that he'll ever put anyone but himself and his rich friends first?