Group fined after alleged dirty tricks against gay San Diego candidate
SAN DIEGO -- A political action committee that apparently formed last year to hurt the San Diego mayoral bid of Carl DeMaio by reminding voters that he is gay has been fined $7,500 for violating campaign disclosure laws.
The group, called Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012, did not provide the names of its principals or a valid street address, according to the city Ethics Commission, which announced the fine Friday. It also did not keep records explaining its expenditures, the commission said.
DeMaio, who lost the mayor’s race to then-U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, said Saturday that the group’s efforts were the kind of tactics that have caused the public to think of politics as a nasty business.
“I’m not going to be deterred by these dirty tactics,” said DeMaio, a Republican now seeking his party’s nomination to represent the 52nd Congressional District in the U.S. House.
The leaders of the group had ties to the Democratic party or Filner, and in some cases both.
But nothing in the commission findings suggested that Filner knew of the group’s efforts on his behalf. Filner, a Democrat, resigned in August amid a scandal over sexual harassment allegations.
Conservatives for Gay Rights Supporting Carl DeMaio for Mayor 2012 paid for “robo-calls” and leaflets reminding voters that DeMaio is gay.
The calls asked voters twice, “If you knew Carl DeMaio was the first openly gay man to be elected to our San Diego City Council, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for Carl DeMaio or does this fact make no difference?”
The leaflets showed DeMaio standing near a man dressed in drag.
One of the political consultants named in the commission’s finding was set to assist the mayoral campaign of Councilman David Alvarez, a Democrat, one of the leading candidates in the Nov. 19 election to name a replacement for Filner.
Alvarez, in a statement released after the fine was revealed, said the consultant had been set to gather a group of neighbors to hear about his campaign.
“In light of today’s news, she has canceled the event,” Alvarez said.
About the commission ruling, Alvarez said, “I’m saddened that anyone would choose to highlight a candidate’s sexuality for political gain.”
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