Feb. 10 2014 12:00 AM

Alvarez returned lobbyist money more than two weeks ago

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'Caution: Do not put in mouth'
Last week, I got an invite to a new Chinese restaurant in the Gaslamp. Packaged with the invite was a box of those little snapper things you probably bought as a kid in Chinatown. Those came to mind when I read this KUSI story titled "Aguirre drops pre-election bombshell." ---

Mike Aguirre, the former San Diego city attorney who finished fourth in the mayoral primary, last week endorsed Kevin Faulconer for mayor. Today on KUSI's morning show, he said it was because Marco Polo Cortes, a lobbyist who was recently implicated in a campaign-finance scandal, donated $999 to David Alvarez's mayoral campaign on Sept. 30. If Cortes had donated $1,000-the maximum allowed under city campaign-finance rules-the contribution would have had to be reported immediately. (Alvarez's campaign reported it on Oct. 10.) 

Bombshell? More like a mini-popper. After Cortes' Jan. 21 arrest, local media started going through the lobbying disclosures Cortes is required to file with the city and spotted the contribution. U-T Watchdog editor Ricky Young tweeted about it on Jan. 22 and it's since been reported by a few other media outlets. 

Second: Alvarez returned the money. According to disclosure reports, on Jan. 25, his campaign returned the $999 Cortes donated in the primary and, on Jan. 23, the $750 Cortes contributed to the general election (see Page 35). Aguirre-and KUSI-fail to mention this. 

As for the fact that Cortes, a lobbyist, made the donation in the first place, CityBeat editor David Rolland put it into perspective in a Facebook discussion prompted by the KUSI story:
As unsettling as that donation may be for you, it pales in comparison with the larger issues at stake in this election. And unless you know that Alvarez promised something in return for the donation, it's unfair to condemn him amid this broken electoral system of ours. There are unsettling donations to almost every candidate in almost every election.

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