Image: trueStatement: “I do not have money from SDG&E, which the other folks do,” Congressman and mayoral candidate Bob Filner said during a May 14 interview on KPBS.

Determination: True

Analysis: Part of Filner’s stump speech pits him against San Diego’s downtown establishment. He blames them for the city’s financial woes and argues he would stand up to them better than his three competitors.

Last week, KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh asked Filner to identify the downtown power brokers he’s been referring to along the campaign trail. He listed the U-T San Diego, the Building Industry Association and the Associated General Contractors, and continued:

Those are the people running our city: the developers and their lobbyists. Look at our financial statements. That’s the best way. Mr. DeMaio, Mr. Fletcher and Ms. Dumanis have the support of all of those Republican, downtown interests. I do not have any of that money. I do not have money from SDG&E, which the other folks do.

We accepted part of Filner’s challenge and decided to Fact Check whether he accurately described contributions from San Diego Gas & Electric.

The graphic below illustrates how much the candidates have received from SDG&E employees for their mayoral campaigns, according to financial disclosure reports. We also included employees of the utility’s parent company, Sempra Energy, for a broader view of contributions from a similar interest group.

The financial reports support Filner’s claim. City Councilman Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher have each reported contributions from SDG&E employees (as well as Sempra employees). Filner has not.

The vast majority of contributions came from SDG&E executives. Mike Niggli, the utility’s president and chief operating officer, gave to all of the campaigns except Filner. Fletcher got $500, Dumanis got $250 and DeMaio got $200.

The funding comparison underscores yet another way that Filner distinguishes himself from his competitors. He primarily highlights that he is a Democrat and the others are not. But he also promises to bring new voices into discussions where companies like SDG&E have historically dominated.

My colleague Liam Dillon explored Filner’s unique position in greater depth in a story published Wednesday. Here’s a key excerpt about Filner’s approach to energy issues:

Environmental, neighborhood, open government and renewable energy advocates would have a seat at the table that they haven’t had previously, Filner said.

“I’m going to listen to different people,” he said. “I’m going to make different appointments. We’re going to have different advisors. We’re going to listen to the neighborhoods.”

He listed Environmental Health Coalition head Diane Takvorian, solar energy booster Bill Powers and former City Councilwoman Donna Frye as three examples.

Since Filner accurately described what’s been publicly reported about contributions from SDG&E employees, we’ve rated his statement True. If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.