Image: falseStatement: “The clear difference between my opponent and I is that I am independent. I’m not tied to any special interests,” District 8 City Council candidate David Alvarez said Sept. 10 at a candidates forum hosted by the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Determination: False

Analysis: On the campaign trail, Alvarez has cast his opponent, Felipe Hueso, as a puppet to special interest groups. Hueso has been endorsed by the local police union and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council.

But special interest groups have sided with Alvarez, too. In fact, during the primary election, the two labor groups financially backing Alvarez spent more money than the only labor group financially backing Hueso.

The local firefighters union spent about $21,200 on billboards, mailers, door hangers and other campaign literature supporting Alvarez, according to campaign disclosure reports. The city’s white collar workers union spent another $3,700 on mailers.

By comparison, the local food workers union spent about $11,100 on mailers supporting Hueso’s candidacy.

Each of these unions is a special interest group. Each advocates for the interests of their membership, whether that’s better pay, benefits or equipment. The unions spend money independently of the campaigns, but the candidates certainly court their financial support.

On his campaign website, Alvarez lists the firefighters union as his top endorsement alongside other special interest groups including the Unity League, the League of Conservation Voters and the San Diego County Apartment Association.

What’s more, Alvarez’ campaign reports also show small donations from more than a dozen lobbyists or executives who represent local businesses or advocacy organizations, including Sempra Energy, NASSCO and the Environmental Health Coalition.

In an interview, Alvarez acknowledged the political and financial support he receives from special interests, but said his statement meant to imply that his decisions on the City Council wouldn’t be tied to their opinions.

“When groups ask you to take positions, I don’t think it’s right to outsource your vote ahead of time,” he said.

We’ve called the statement false because Alvarez tried to make the case that he’s more independent by citing his lack of ties to special interests. However, he has just as many ties to special interests as his opponent.

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Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter:

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