Ahead of Monday’s second encounter between the Chargers, the city, the county and the negotiators hired by the local governments, the Lincoln Club is paying to advertise this post on Facebook wondering whether the Chargers “want a deal, or do they want L.A.?”
It wasn’t the first time the group has questioned the Chargers’ sincerity in this saga. But coming in the hours before the team’s second meeting with the city, county and hired negotiators, it was surprisingly provocative. And it has led the Chargers to threaten to complain to the NFL that the mayor is offending them.
The Lincoln Club is a political action committee that spends on campaigns to support business-friendly conservative causes and is a strong ally of Mayor Kevin Faulconer. It was instrumental in electing City Councilman Chris Cate, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf and in sinking the campaigns of mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher, paving the way for Faulconer’s win.
It’s fair to say that the group would not venture too far from the mayor’s message without a nod.
And this seems to have upset the Chargers.
“At the NFL owners committee meetings in New York City this coming week, we will be sure to discuss this new negative advertising campaign against the Chargers — because it speaks volumes about what the mayor and his political operatives have really been up to on this issue from the start,” said Mark Fabiani, the Chargers’ special counsel, in an email.
The Lincoln Club’s executive director, Ryan Clumpner, shot back.
“So he wants to blow up a billion-dollar deal over a $200 Facebook post by a private organization? lol,” Clumpner wrote in a statement to me, using the shorthand for “laughing out loud.”
“We are a private organization and post on Facebook as we see fit. We sponsor all our posts. No elected officials have any say in what we post, nor will we be bullied by Mr. Fabiani,” he wrote.
“The question we asked on Facebook was whether the Chargers want a new stadium or would rather move to L.A. If Mr. Fabiani was so threatened by that question that he is complaining about it to the NFL, then I think we all know the answer,” he wrote. Clumpner had made a similar point in a long podcast interview with me recently.
Not the best environment for negotiations to begin again Monday.
But maybe just a flare. Fabiani responded to Clumpner one last time.
“No one is talking about blowing up anything,” he said. “We will be attending Monday’s negotiating session as planned, despite the evidence over the last week of bad-faith behavior by the mayor and his political operatives.”