Image:FALSEStatement: “DeMaio wants to cut government but spends more on his council office than anyone,” according to a recent campaign ad critical of the mayoral candidate.

Determination: False

Analysis: A recent commercial funded by the San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145 PAC suggests mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio has spent more than other council members during nearly four years representing District 5.

But an ad from the DeMaio campaign says the Republican cut his council budget, saving taxpayers money.

We decided to find out which ad was true. Does DeMaio spend more or less than others on the San Diego City Council?

Year-end reports by the city comptroller’s office show DeMaio never spent dramatically more than his council colleagues.

Because cities run on fiscal years – from July through June – DeMaio’s first full budget year in office was 2010.

That year, he spent $971,384 overall, a figure that put him at the top of the heap as far as office spending. But that amount was only slightly more than other offices doled out during the same period.

DeMaio’s spending fell the next two years.

He spent $841,676 in 2011, making him one of the three lowest spenders on the eight-member council that year.

In 2012, DeMaio’s office spent less than any of the other council members: $767,174.

In a story posted late Monday, U-T San Diego reported that DeMaio’s spending dropped 21 percent in two years.

That’s not to say DeMaio hasn’t been criticized for how he’s used District 5 funds.

In January 2010, the U-T reported that DeMaio spent nearly $32,000 to mail invitations to town hall meetings to District 5 residents within his first year in office.

Reporter Craig Gustafson wrote that DeMaio “sent 45 times as many taxpayer-funded invitations last year as all the city’s other elected officials combined.”

At the time, fire union president Frank De Clercq told the U-T that spending on mailers could have covered a fire recruit’s yearly salary.

Some of those costs may have fallen under the 2009 budget year, so we took a closer look.

Despite bills for mailers, DeMaio’s office still came in under budget overall at $974,324 during his first six months in office.

And while DeMaio may have spent more money on mailers than his council colleagues, he was only the biggest spender overall in 2010, and by just $13.

In fact, he came in under budget all but one year.

The fire union’s ad, which says DeMaio “spends” more than anyone, implies the one-term councilman is currently using more district dollars than others on the council when in fact he has reduced his spending in recent years.

That’s why we’re labeling the union’s claim false.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at or 619.325.0528.

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Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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