By Alberto Garcia
State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, a candidate for San Diego Mayor, may have violated state law by failing to file his intention to run for re-election to the State Assembly before raising over $300,000 in a campaign committee at the same time he’s been running and raising money for San Diego Mayor.
A campaign committee, Todd Gloria for Assembly 2020, was created in March of this year when Gloria transferred $293,078.05 that remained in his 2018 Assembly campaign committee after the November 2018 election.
State law requires that all candidates file a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement declaring their candidacy for election or re-election before any money can be raised for a campaign committee, even if it’s the candidate’s own money.
According to the California Secretary of State’s office, there was no Form 501 on file for Todd Gloria for Assembly 2020 as of the end of day on August 8th.
Under state law, Gloria had to empty and close out the 2018 committee by the end of March or the money would become “surplus” and subject to strict limits to donate the money to charity. Gloria instead transferred the money to the new Assembly 2020 committee and closed out the Assembly 2018 committee on March 19th.
The June 30th report for the Assembly 2020 campaign committee reflects contributions of $25,246, plus the nearly $300,000 he transferred from the 2018 committee. Those contributions have all come from special interests, including Native American tribes, new car dealers, an apartment association, and lobbying groups for chiropractors and firefighters, and one contribution from State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s 2020 re-election campaign. No individual contributions were reported. The committee ended the June period with $275,122.24 cash on hand.
Since March, Gloria has spent $44,246.32 from that committee, including donating to other campaigns and organizations. Gloria donated $5,000 to the San Diego Democratic Party; a maximum $4,700 contribution to Councilman Chris Ward’s 2020 Assembly campaign to replace Gloria; $1,500 to the Climate Action Campaign; $1,000 to Kamala Harris’ Presidential campaign; and $1,037.50 to reimburse Lorena Gonzalez’ Assembly campaign for delegate breakfast at the recent Democratic Party convention, among other expenditures.
At the time the 2020 Assembly committee was created, Gloria was already a declared candidate for San Diego Mayor and was raising money for a separate committee, Todd Gloria for Mayor 2020.
Gloria filed a 501 form with the San Diego City Clerk on December 20, 2018 declaring his candidacy for Mayor before raising money for that campaign.
At the end of June, Gloria reported having raised a total of $656,108.28 for the 2020 San Diego Mayor’s campaign since January 1st, and ended the period with $474,735.49 cash on hand.
Gloria’s mayoral campaign received the endorsement of California Governor Gavin Newsom last week, in addition to several Assembly members, including locals Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher and Shirley Weber, as well as Congress members Juan Vargas and Susan Davis.
A call to Todd Gloria’s cell phone for comment was returned by Nick Serrano, Gloria’s Communications Director in the Assembly who currently serves as campaign manager. Serrano appears to have received a $500 payment from Gloria’s mayor campaign committee in March, as well as $6,500 in payments from Gloria’s 2020 Assembly committee between February and June of this year. Serrano said he would pass the message on to Gloria.
No comments were received from Gloria at the time this story was released.
Councilman Chris Ward, running to replace Gloria in the Assembly, filed his own 501 form for the Assembly before beginning to raise money in January. Ward’s 2020 Assembly committee reported having raised a total of $284,393.27 through June 30th. Ward received a contribution of $4,700 from Gloria’s 2020 Assembly committee.
Candidates do not usually donate money to other candidates running for the same office, but it is not clear if Ward knew whether or not Gloria intended to run for the Assembly before he declared his own candidacy for the same seat.
Gloria donated $4,700 to Ward’s campaign on March 27, just eight days after Gloria created his 2020 Assembly committee.
A message for comment left on Ward’s cell phone was not returned when this story was published.
The California Political Reform Act, which requires the 501 form be filed before raising money, states that knowing or willful violations are misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, a fine of $10,000, or three times the amount which was improperly received, may be assessed.
A violation of the filing requirement may be prosecuted by the California Attorney General, the District Attorney, the elected City Attorney, or through a civil lawsuit called a Private Attorney General action.
Local attorney Cory Briggs, a frequent critic of San Diego’s leadership and a current candidate for City Attorney, refused to comment on the issue so he wouldn’t create a possible conflict of interest.
“The press and the public must remember that everyone is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law,” Briggs said. “If I am elected as City Attorney, this matter could fall within my prosecutorial purview so it would therefore be inappropriate for me to make any comment,” Briggs concluded.
Current San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has endorsed Gloria’s campaign for Mayor.