José Susumo Azano Matsura, a Mexican businessman who has a Coronado home, and some of his associates were found guilty Friday of illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Diego political races.
Azano was found guilty on three dozen different charges centering on donations to a handful of San Diego politicians in 2012, including Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner.
“The jury’s verdict confirms that a foreign national must not attempt to influence a United States election,” federal prosecutor Blair Perez said in a statement.
Azano’s attorney said he was “very disappointed” with the verdicts and he predicted a “win on appeal,” even if the case goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to KPBS.
Prosecutors in the case believe Azano was trying to win over local politicians in order to try and develop the San Diego waterfront.
But during our investigative series on Azano, we learned that Azano was also engaged in a bitter feud with Sempra, the San Diego-based energy giant. At least one politician who met with Azano has said Sempra was at the center of his concerns.
Despite the verdicts, we still aren’t sure what to make of Dumanis’ relationship with Azano. Her appearance during the trial didn’t clear much up.
Sacramento Report: New York and California
Our Sara Libby surveys the liberal policy tit-for-tat between the country’s two most populous states, New York and California, in this week’s report on state politics. Governors in both states signed new $15 minimum wage laws on the same day, for instance.
• Gov. Jerry Brown signed a batch of bills into law Friday.
He still hasn’t weighed in on some of the big-ticket items passed by the Legislature this session, but he did give his OK to a few bills from local legislators, including: a bill from Sen. Marty Block that lets the California State University system invest in mutual funds and use the earnings to pay for capital improvements, a bill from Assemblyman Brian Maienschein that updates state open-meetings laws to use more tech-friendly practices and one from Assemblywoman Mario Waldron that extends the requirement for court-ordered outpatient treatment under Laura’s Law.
Podcast: In Vino No Veritas
Jacob McKean, founder of San Diego craft brewery and coffee roaster Modern Times, joins co-hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts in this week’s podcast to talk about all the fake reasons breweries give for selling out. When craft breweries get snatched up by big corporations, they give feel-good reasons for their sale to suffer as little blowback as possible from the craft beer crowd. McKean said he hopes journalists will stop buying the spin and start scrutinizing Big Beer’s intention, because their entry into the craft beer market can be dangerous to actual craft breweries.
Keatts and Lewis also kept up the Faulconer Watch (the mayor still hasn’t taken a position on the Chargers Measure C). And they talked about Measure K, which is shaping up to be one of the political fights of the season in San Diego.
News From Elsewhere
• Area colleges are hoping to pick up some of the students displaced by the collapse of ITT Technical Institute, KPBS reports. The for-profit chain of 130 campuses nationwide that ran into regulatory trouble and closed last week. ITT had local locations in National City and Vista.
• A measure to keep San Diego High School in Balboa Park will still appear before San Diego voters after supporters overcame a legal challenge to keep it off the ballot, the Union-Tribune reports. You can read about the measure, Measure I, in our ballot measure guide.
The official state voter guide will be 224 pages and will cost $15 million to print and mail, the Los Angeles Times reports. We previewed the voter guide in a recent 25-minute podcast on the election.
• Trying to ride the bus on Sunday? Good luck. KPBS reports that Sunday bus services continue to lag following route cuts made years ago to cope with the recession.
The Week’s Top Stories
These were the most five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Sept. 3-Sept. 9. Click here to see the full top 10.
1. I Asked SDPD Where I Could Legally Stay in My Vehicle Overnight. I’m Still Waiting for an Answer.
As my father and I were being removed from our parking spot on Fiesta Island, I asked an officer where we could go. But instead of giving me an answer, he only told me where we couldn’t go. (Joseph Santilli)
2. The Convadium Is an Opportunity for San Diego to Do a Big Thing. We Should Take It.
The proposed stadium-convention center wouldn’t be a giveaway to a billionaire; it’s a public-private partnership in which both sides should contribute and both should expect benefits. San Diegans should vote based on the project’s benefits and economic returns for San Diego, not on animosity toward billionaires or any particular one. (Scott Peters)
3. The Ultimate Guide to the Local Ballot Measures
Can’t tell Measure E from Measure L? We’ve got you covered. (Voice of San Diego)
4. Fact Check: Pro-Chargers Ballot Language Leaves Something Big Out
In their ballot statement in favor of Measure C, Chargers supporters imply that the debt and obligations at Qualcomm Stadium would be erased by the measure’s approval. (Scott Lewis)
5. Stadium Plan Is Quite the Shutout: Taxpayers, $1.1 billion; Spanos, $0
Questions about parking and access to a proposed downtown stadium illustrate how much is wrong with the Spanos stadium initiative, and how badly it would damage San Diego. (Tim O’Reiley)