These are shaky times for our beloved friends over at San Diego Republican headquarters, wherever that might be now.
Go the website of the Republican Party of San Diego County, click on “Contact” and—at least as of Tuesday—it gives an address of 5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 107, in the gleaming, tech-heavy neighborhood known as Sorrento Valley.
There’s only one problem with that: The party moved out of the three-story office building at the end of December, even though it has six months left on a six-year lease.
Spin Cycle stopped by the stucco-and-glass building fronted by palms and birds of paradise last weekend, and, sure enough, Suite 107 was dark as night. Peering through the narrow wire-mesh security windows alongside the front entrance, it appeared the place had been left in haste, with some furniture left behind.
“You wouldn’t believe what they ditched in the trash bin!” said Antoine Georges, who’s owned the building for 20 years. “Thousands of things. Office supplies, staplers— maybe 30 or 40 staplers, the big kind for campaign work—pots and pans, boxes and boxes of stuff, even brand-new live plants! It was just mind-boggling.”
A lively 62-year-old Lebanese man who considers himself fiscally conservative but socially liberal (he says he’s friends with Republican Congressmember Darrell Issa and a cousin of Ralph Nader), Georges told Spin Cycle that he had grown suspicious of his tenants in Suite 107 for some time.
He’d heard rumors that the tenant had wanted to break the lease. Georges said the head honcho of the local GOP, Tony Krvaric, had asked him on several occasions if he’d consider donating the rent as a party gift. Georges said he declined.
Rent checks of roughly $4,500, he said, started coming later and later in the month. The December lease payment, for example, while due Dec. 1, arrived more than three weeks late on Christmas Eve.
But the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, activity in the suite seemed to pick up, despite it being a typically down time for campaign events. Over previous weeks, Georges said the local GOP “made up some story” that they were going to remodel the 2,700-square-foot office space. Soon, trucks would show up to haul away office materials, Georges said.
Georges said a truck associated with a paper-shredding company appeared one day and hauled off what he described as “20 or 30 boxes of files.” Added Georges: “I have no idea what was in the boxes. I just know there were a lot of them.”
The final move came just before New Year’s Day, when a GOP employee removed a Republican sign that had been bolted to a wall, placed it in a truck and drove off.
A few days later, Georges said he got a letter from Krvaric, claiming the landlord had breached the lease and that the GOP would like its security deposit back.
Georges laughed. “The place is trashed!” he said. “It needs new carpet. The walls need to be repaired because they literally glued campaign signs to the wallpaper. And they still left a bunch of stuff behind! Empty file cabinets, furniture. And they never returned the keys, so now I have to have all the locks changed.”
Krvaric, when reached by Spin Cycle, didn’t seem interested in getting too much into the lease-jumping matter, saying only that the GOP “moved because our landlord was in breach of his lease, including areas of health and safety. In addition, our office was burglarized late last year but doors remained unsecured. Out of concern for the health and safety of our employees and volunteers, we had to find other premises.”
Krvaric also noted that the landlord “had been repeatedly made aware of our concerns, and, eventually, we formally notified him of his being in breach.”
“Never complained about anything” was how Georges responded to Krvaric’s comments, “and the police agreed with me that no burglary took place. Look, I even installed a new mailbox out front to accommodate them. Cost me $6,000. And they complained about the bathroom that took four months to remodel. You should have seen it before, though— political graffiti everywhere!”
When remodeling began and the walls were removed, a GOP worker even requested a particular portion of the wall that said something about government not being the answer, Georges said.
The complaints arose only after the GOP pulled up stakes and departed, Georges said, adding, “Krvaric even said he was worried about a medical-marijuana collective in the building.”
“I’ll say one thing about that,” the talkative Georges continued. “There were a lot more suspicious characters heading into GOP headquarters than into the collective upstairs. Plus, the collective pays its rent on time, even early.”
Krvaric wouldn’t say much on the subject, but Georges suspects that the GOP has effectively shut down operations, perhaps for the next few months. Some Republicans have received notices that the headquarters is now operating out of Krvaric’s financial-planning office in Rancho Bernardo, which would seem to create all sorts of logistics issues, like who’s paying the rent—and who owns the staplers.
In the local Republican Party’s most recent committee filing for the period Dec. 19 through Dec. 31, 2010, it notes a payment of $4,088.25 made to “R.B. Courtyard” for “office expenses”—the same location where Krvaric operates his financial-planning business.
Georges said he’ll take the local GOP to court, if necessary, to recoup at least the $27,000 he says he’s owed through June, when the lease expires. “After that,” he said, “good riddance!”
No, it’s not been a good month for the GOP. Two weeks ago, Krvaric was said to be whipping up votes for his predecessor and mentor, California GOP boss Ron Nehring, who lost in his bid to become treasurer of the GOP’s national organization—this despite a National Journal report that prospective voters were plied with California wine and Ghirardelli chocolates for their support.
Maybe Krvaric should have tried to sweeten the deal by throwing in a free stapler.
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