A political action committee supporting District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' campaign for mayor has raised $118,000, with the largest donation coming from an obscure company registered to a Mexican citizen.
The independent-expenditure committee, or Super PAC, is called "San Diegans for Bonnie Dumanis for Mayor 2012, Sponsored by Airsam N492RM, LLC." The second part of the title indicates that a company has contributed at least $50,000 to the committee and must be disclosed as a major donor. Airsam contributed $100,000. The company does not have a website, but public records indicate it is an aviation firm controlled by Susumo Azano, a Mexican businessman based in Coronado.
Azano was in the news last year when U-T San Diego and 10 News reported that Azano had bankrolled lawsuits in a land dispute against Sempra Energy in Mexico. The paper described Azano as a "Coronado tycoon."
Republican political strategist Kevin Spillane is managing the PAC's fundraising and spending with the help of professional campaign treasurer Rebecca Luby, who previously worked as deputy finance director of the California Republican Party and still has the party as a client. According to a recent campaign-finance disclosure, the committee spent just short of $30,000 on a mailer this week.
Spillane says that Airsam is only one of many donors to the Super PAC, each of whom has been thoroughly vetted. Although Azano is a foreign national, Spillane says Airsam is eligible to contribute because it's a U.S.-based entity and Azano has a green card.
"I can just tell you we’ve been casting a wide net, soliciting contributions from a wide variety of people," Spillane says. "[Airsam] was one of the earliest contributors and we’re expecting others in the next few days."
He describes the other donors as a diverse group, but would not reveal who they might be. One campaign finance report attributes a $15,000 donation to the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and a $3,000 donation to a retiree named Ernesto Encinas.
"The only thing the people have in common is they like Bonnie Dumanis and would like to see her elected mayor," he says.
While other Super PACs have been very vocal in announcing their independent-expenditure campaigns (the pro-Nathan Fletcher Super PAC icPurple actually cold-called us to pitch us on a story about its launch), Spillane says he's not revealing any of this new PAC's plans.
"I would be happy to tell you more, but it’s just not a tactically smart thing to do to let other committees know what we’re doing," Spillane says.
Correction: The original version of the story incorrectly stated the committee was formed "today." Rather, the committee was first formed on April 19, but it's name changed today with the addition of the donor, Airsam N492RM, LLC. The story has been updated to also include more campaign-finance information.