Friday, April 21, 2006 | The San Diego County Board of Supervisors and their spouses reigned in a collective $2,521.52 in free food in 2005.
Those are just some of the details found in the supervisor’s 2005 statement of economic interest files, on which public officials in California are required to annually disclose such gifts, along with various other sources of income and stock holdings.
Officials are required to disclose all gifts that cost more than $50, and may not accept more than $360 in gifts from one single entity. The gifts, which are compiled from annual income disclosure forms released earlier this month, include hundred-dollar dinners, Padres tickets, theater seats and trips to the spa.
Supervisor Greg Cox reported receiving the most in gifts or reimbursements of the five supervisors, much of which was related to his position with the California State Association of Counties, an organization that lobbies on behalf of counties at the state and federal level.
He also reported such gifts as a $150 Junior Achievement dinner sponsored by developer McMillin Cos., a $197.49 dinner sponsored by Southern California Edison, tickets to the Holiday Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl, $150 in dinners from contractor SAIC, and $270 in Padres tickets from Cox Communications.
His wife, Cheryl, reported income as a consultant from a number of companies: towing company A to Z Enterprises, Inc.; Henry Barros, who works in property acquisition and development; Bobar Liquor; and trucking company Con-way Transportation.
Supervisor Pamela Slater-Price trailed about $500 behind him, receiving nearly $2,000 worth of gifts.
Slater-Price reported accepting tickets to the Mainly Mozart music festival, which is run in part by $30,000 of taxpayer money appropriated by Slater-Price through her Community Enhancement Program district awards.
The enhancement program is financed through transient occupancy tax and allows supervisors to give money to community programs that boost San Diego’s tourism industry and increase its residents’ quality of life.
She also received gift tickets from the La Jolla Playhouse and poinsettias from Paul Ecke Ranch, a poinsettia grower.
Slater-Price listed four separate real estate holdings in Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe, each valued at more than $1 million as well as stock in various biotech firms and Taser International Inc., a company that develops stun-gun technology.
Supervisor Ron Roberts, who reports to own stock in Motorola and Qualcomm, took $1,918 in gifts last year.
That sum included $400 worth of dinners, including the Hall of Champions’ 59th Annual Salute to Champions dinner. In fiscal year 2005, Roberts donated $20,000 of taxpayer money to the Hall of Champions through his Community Enhancement Program district awards.
Roberts, a former architect, also attended a $75 per plate dinner held by the Building Industry Association, a golf tournament valued at $105 paid for by the San Diego Association of Realtors and two other golf tournaments valued at $100 and $175 paid for by Lennar Communities, the San Diego County’s most productive homebuilder.
Meanwhile, Supervisor Dianne Jacob reported owning hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in Exxon Petroleum Company, Apple Computers and Amgen Medical Research.
She also has various real estate holdings in Jamul, on Highway 94, where a proposed Indian gaming casino has community members – including Jacob – up in arms. They say that the development will bring in unwanted and dangerous traffic and will damage the infrastructure of the Jamul community.
Jacob also reported receiving a $100 gift basket from the Rancho Santa Fe Association, a nearly 80-year-old homeowners group and a $100 entry into San Diego National Bank’s annual golf tournament.
Cox Communications gave her $190 worth of tickets for the San Diego Padres opening day and a $35 ticket to the San Diego Taxpayers Association’s watchdog dinner.
Supervisor Bill Horn reported owning between $10,001 and $100,000 of stock in General Electric, General Motors and Sempra Energy.
He received a total of $823.95 in gifts, including a $40 polo shirt from Aircraft Hangar Management in Fallbrook, $194 worth of Sea World tickets and $110 in tickets to a San Diego Padres game from Cox Communications.
In addition, the Bella D’Ora Spa in Carlsbad gave Horn $140 in gift certificates and the Rancho Santa Fe Association gave Horn two separate Christmas baskets.
A basket given in January 2005 by the Rancho Santa Fe Association was reported as being worth $89.95 and another basket given in December 2005 was reported at $250.
Horn was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when Local 8 News reported that he had not accurately filed information about his ownership of a home lived in by his chief of staff. His disclosure forms now accurately reflect this information. Horn, however, said that the whole process of filing the income disclosure forms has become far too intrusive.
“I think recently it got blown out of proportion, the fact that I disclosed something on the wrong page,” he said. “They wouldn’t have even known about it if I hadn’t disclosed it.
“Now they’ve got me listing my tenants – anyone who pays me more than $10,000 per year. I don’t think that their addresses should be public information – they’re not public officials.”
According to these disclosure forms, known as Form 700, Supervisor Greg Cox’s wife accepted $953.22 in dinner and events from the California Association of Counties and its affiliate organizations. She accepted $334.89 in meals and associated events from the association itself, $345.63 from the association’s finance corporation and $272.70 from CSAC’s Executive Director Jim Keene.
The California Fair Political Practice regulations state that: “gifts from an individual and an entity shall be cumulated as being gifts from a ‘single’ source if the individual in fact directs and controls the decision of the entity to make the gifts.”
Cox, who said he tends to err on the side of caution with income disclosure, said that he viewed the various gifts to be received form separate sources.
“The California State Association of Counties is one entity, they hosted one dinner,” Cox said. “The CSAC finance board is a different entity and Jim Keene hosted one of those dinners separate of CSAC.”
The association, which lobbies for California’s 58 counties at the state and federal level, also reimbursed Cox a total of $8,510.65 for travel and lodging expenses associated with “advocacy for counties and their residents.”
He reported receiving an additional $896.50 from the association’s finance corporation, which has its own board of directors for travel and lodging associated with “financial services for counties.”
Cox, who was president of CSAC’s board of directors and a board member of the finance corporation last year said that the money was reimbursement for traveling to Sacramento, San Francisco and Seattle for various conferences and meetings.
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