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Political Consultant Says Chargers Donation Inquiries Were Just A Test

A volunteer political consultant for the San Diego Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group says the inquiries were just to gauge interest.

A local political fundraiser has asked San Diego companies for $10,000 donations to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

According to an email provided to KPBS last week, the inquiries came from Jean Freelove of Freelove Consulting Group Inc. She's helped raise money for Republican politicians and serves on the San Diego County Taxpayers Association board.

When contacted by phone Friday, Freelove referred questions about her work to the Citizens' Stadium Advisory group. That's the task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to pitch a new Chargers stadium plan.

But the mayor, task force and Chargers said they have no connection to Freelove's current efforts.

Political consultant Jason Cabel Roe, who's been working for the task force on a volunteer basis, said he was the one who involved Freelove.

In an email, he said he contacted her last week to see if she’d help raise money when it "got to that point.” Roe said he hasn't received any money and that Freelove’s dozen or so inquiries were just to "gauge their interest."

“I think it will be some time before we know for certain what will be necessary," he wrote.

Tony Manolatos, volunteer spokesman for the task force, said the advisory group's members did not know about Freelove's actions.

"The Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group had nothing to do with this and were not aware of it actually," he said by phone. "We are not soliciting or accepting any money from outside donors."

An advisory group member also messaged the team's president to express the task force is not connected to Freelove, said Mark Fabiani, the Chargers' special counsel on stadium issues.

"Over the weekend and continuing today, Dean Spanos, the owner of the Chargers, has been receiving various text messages from a member of the task force indicating that this money is not being raised for the task force and that the task force is raising its own money," Fabiani said Monday in an phone interview.

Fabiani has been critical of the task force since Faulconer announced the idea in January but said the Chargers have been working with the group members since he met with them in February. The team has provided its years of research and studies on a new stadium and is arranging a meeting between the task force and NFL executives, Fabiani said.

At the same time, the Chargers are moving ahead with a plan to build a Bolts-Raiders stadium in a city just south of Los Angeles. The on-field rivals have a binding agreement to purchase 168 acres in Carson for the facility. Fabiani said the teams are collecting signatures to put a measure before the Carson City Council that would allow them to use that property for a stadium.

"That process is moving ahead very quickly. Signatures will start to be gathered late this week and we hope to have a fully entitled site within a short time period after that, certainly by mid-year," he said.

The task force is expected to unveil its proposal in May. The deadline was moved up from the fall after the Chargers announced the Carson plans.

Any proposal will likely go to a public vote.

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