Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that the nine people he tasked with coming up with a plan for a new Chargers stadium would be volunteers. It turns out they’re more committed to the cause than that.
The task force members will open up their own wallets – potentially more than $5,000 per person – to pay for the group’s expenses, task force spokesman Tony Manolatos told me.
“You’re volunteering, and you’re also writing a check,” Manolatos said.
The task force members literally funding themselves is the latest twist in a series of bizarre dealings related to the group and donations related to the stadium effort. Faulconer appointed the group, which includes major business leaders, a private equity investor and a former NFL executive in January to develop a financing scheme for the stadium. The plan could include hundreds of millions of dollars in public money, but the task force is not an official city committee, its meetings are secret and none of its members are paid.
Initially, the task force planned to accept donations to finance any expenses, but now its members will be footing the bill themselves, Manolatos said. The Chargers had raised questions about potential donors’ conflicts in advocating for or against a stadium deal.
“We didn’t want people to be concerned about that perception,” Manolatos said.
Manolatos said group members themselves won’t receive any future financial benefit from their work on the task force.
“These are professionals with a ton of integrity,” Manolatos said.
The task force’s expenses will be less than $50,000, Manolatos said. If the group’s nine members were to divide a hypothetical $50,000 budget evenly, each person would owe $5,500. The group will pay for Manolatos’ services, costs related to a public forum earlier this month and fees for copies and graphics.
Last week, prominent fundraiser Jean Freelove emailed local companies asking for $10,000 donations to keep the Chargers in San Diego. When KPBS asked Freelove about the emails, she referred reporters to the stadium task force. But Manolatos told KPBS, and reiterated to me, that the task force had nothing to do Freelove’s effort.
Republican political consultant Jason Roe told KPBS that he had asked Freelove to make the solicitations in case they’d be needed. Roe is Faulconer’s consultant and has attended at least one stadium task force meeting. It’s still unclear exactly who would control any Chargers campaign. No political action committee has been created to accept donations and Faulconer doesn’t have his own PAC.
Here’s a list of who’s on the task force and their day jobs:
• Doug Barnhart, chairman of Barnhart-Reese Construction
• Rod Dammeyer, private equity investor
• Adam Day, California State University trustee and assistant tribal manager of Sycuan
• Walt Ekard, former San Diego County CAO and city of San Diego COO
• Aimee Faucett, COO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
• Jason Hughes, president and CEO of Hughes Marino
• Jessie Knight, executive vice president of Sempra Energy, chairman of the board of SDG&E
• Mary Lydon, executive director of Urban Land Institute, San Diego-Tijuana branch
• Jim Steeg, former NFL executive