UPDATE: As of Friday, June 15 Gary Kreep has widened his lead over Garland Peed to 1088 votes. It's the third day in a row that he's gained. There are 4,000 absentee and provisional ballots left to be counted.
Long-time GOP operative and opposition researcher Jim Sills has passed away of heart failure, but his legacy may live on if Birther and Minutemen attorney Gary Kreep is elected to the San Diego Superior Court bench.
After the dust settled on election night, Kreep was 56 votes ahead of Deputy District Attorney Garland Peed. As the first batches of provisional and absentee ballots were counted, Peed briefly pulled ahead until last night, when Kreep took a 216-vote lead. With only 13,500 votes left to count, it is not only possible, but probable, that Kreep could win.
Sills was actively recruiting judicial candidates on the conservative-right blog SDRostra.com and was the first to announce Kreep's candidacy an hour before the filing deadline in February. He also served as Kreep's mouthpiece on the blog, repeatedly posting positive stories about the candidate, including when Kreep appeared on national TV to discuss his most recent client, a Camp Pendleton Marine facing a discharge after lambasting President Barack Obama on Facebook.
The posts did not really get into the more controversial aspects of Kreep's career, such as his legal crusade to challenge Obama's eligibility to be president (Kreep alleges Obama was born in Kenya) or his position as general counsel for the militant nativist group, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Kreep also headed up a campaign to protect Glenn Beck from boycotts and was the spokesperson for a bizarre anti-abortion ballot initiative in Nevada disguised as an anti-discrimination measure.
Campaign-finance reports obtained by CityBeat that have not yet been filed with the California Secretary of State's office show that Sills was paid $2,500 for his work. Sills was well-respected in political circles for his behind-the-scenes muckraking, as well as his campaign mailers, taking a national award for his work on a 2010 mailer for Supervisor Bill Horn that used the Beatles' "Taxman" to attack Horn's opponent Steve Gronke. As of May 19, Kreep had spent more than $14,000 on a slate mailers.
In total, Kreep spent $39,422, not including the last two weeks before the election. Peed spend $38,101.
Kreep's filings reveal a campaign that only a handful of individuals contributed. These include:
- $500 from Shawn Steel, former head of the California Republican Party, the state's current Republican National Committee man, and husband to Michelle Steel, vice chairperson of the California Board of Equalization.
- $500 from Daniel Anaya, a North County insurance broker
- $250 from William Olson, a Virginia-based attorney who has partnered with Kreep on various lawsuits.
- $250 from retired judge Victor Ramirez
- $150 from San Diego attorney and self-described conservative evangelical Stanwood Johnson, who was ironically criticized in 2010 for fundraising for incumbent judges rather than conservative challengers.
- $100 from M. Declan Bransfield, president of Eberle Associates, a Virginia-based conservative political fundraising firm
By far Kreep was his own biggest donor. The lawyer, who heads the United States Justice Foundation, loaned his campaign $41,800. Another $2,000 came from two political-action committees controlled by Kreep and run out of his office building in Ramona, the Justice Political Action Committee and the Republican Majority Campaign.
As of 2009, Kreep pulled a $174,000 salary from the U.S. Justice Foundation. On his financial disclosures filed with the County of San Diego, Kreep also reported more than $100,000 in salary from his law practice, between $10,000 and $100,000 in income from his work as chairman of the Republican Majority Campaign and between $1,000 and $10,000 as chairman of the Beat Obama PAC. He also collects between $10,000 and $100,000 in rent from the U.S. Justice Foundation, the Republican Majority Campaign and the Ramona Teachers Association.
Kreep also owns apartments in Carlsbad, which produce between $10,000 and $100,000 in rental income each year. One of his tenants, Deanne Goodman, is an editor for the local Patch.com news outlet. She tells CityBeat she's never met him, and didn't realize he was running for judge until a colleague reported on him close to the election. She says he's been a pretty good landlord.
Kreep will collect a $178,789 salary if elected to the bench.