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Tracking San Diego Election Spending With Just Weeks Before The June Primary

A photo illustration of the inewsource San Diego County campaign finance database launched on April 19, 2018.
Brandon Quester
A photo illustration of the inewsource San Diego County campaign finance database launched on April 19, 2018.
Tracking San Diego Election Spending With Just Weeks Before The June Primary
Tracking San Diego Election Spending With Just Weeks Before The June Primary GUEST: Jill Castellano, investigative data reporter, inewsource

The June primary is less than three weeks away. Campaign ads are out in force. Our partners at Eye News Source have been following the money that funds those ads and other campaign expenses. Investigative data reporter Jill Castellano is tracking this bending of nearly a dozen races. She spoke with Midday Edition producer Michael Lipkin. >>> We talked about the surprising amount of money being spent in the DA race. What is the update ? >> Have not seen a ton of new money coming in but we are seeing the money being used and transformed in different ways. For example, we know a couple of weeks ago there was a lot of huge flood of money coming from George Soros funded political action committee. We know the pack has sponsored the commercials that are airing, the mailers going out to voters, and we know that political action committee is supporting Summer Stefan is sending out there mailers and airing commercials. Now is the time people start to get bombarded with all of these advertisements for these candidates. Another thing we know is that there is another political action committee that formed recently and in the past week has raised $110,000 sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce here in San Diego County. We expect that it is going to spend a lot of that money in the coming few weeks. >>> Presumably to support summer Stefan. >>> Yes. >>> You spoke to summer Stefan and Genevieve Jones right is going against her. She is being supported by George Soros. How are they reacting and adapting to this huge influx of money ? >> They are happy to have the support. Neither of them are concerned that this outside money could consist confuse their own message. They are happy that they have people who they think believe in them and backing them in this race. When I spoke to summer Stefan, she said that because the Deputy District attorneys Association is supporting her, and that comes from a large group of people who she knows very well, that she would really values their support. She compares that to the money coming from George Soros a single person who supports Genevieve Jones right. >> That is a national kind of platform that is the vision of one man who happens to be extremely rich and can help fund an election easily and by an election easily. And I think that is quite different than having hundreds if not thousands of individuals who invest in public safety and set aside a little of their hard-earned money. >>> What did you hear from Jones right ? >> Jones right is also happy to have support. She says that even though the groups are supporting her, a lot of that money is coming from outside San Diego, these are people who believe in her message and are raising her platform to a level that she could not do on her own simply because of how much money Stefan has in the bank to begin with. >> I don't believe they are going to do anything to jeopardize my candidacy. I was really impressed by the first television ad because it was simply introducing me and my message. There was no spin. It was take a look at Genevieve Jones right. Here's what she stands for. >>> When you look at all of the outsize pack of this race for district attorney, they spent about $1 million combined. That is the type of money you would see in a congressional campaign, right ? >> Yes. >>> What you see in that 49th district which is an actual congressional race which is to replace Republican Darrell Issa? In this is a hugely contested race one of the most contested in the country in Congress right now. There is a lot of outside money coming into this race right now. We know people are funding all sorts of candidates. The top fundraisers are Democrats. The top two are a businessman named Paul Kerr and a former nonprofit CEO named Sterritt Jacobs. Those two loaned themselves a ton of money over $1 million each. If you get rid of them and look at who is fundraising the most money, number one is Mike Levin who is in environmental attorney who raised $1.5 million. I think the reason why the Democrats are the biggest fundraisers in this race is because people know that there is a chance to flip the seat that 49 terms has belonged to a Republican and they want the Republic been -- the opportunity to make it a Democratic seat. >>> How does that compare the fundraising compared to the 50th district where Republican Duncan Hunter is running for run -- reelection has a strong support of the voters ? >> He does have strong support. It is not the top fundraiser. He has been spending a lot of his money in legal bills. He is caught in an FBI investigation of his campaign finance. The number one fundraiser is Mark --. He has raised about $25,000. People think because of the situation with Duncan Hunter right now that that seat could flip also. >>> How much is Hunter raised ? the Hunter Ray $671,000. >>> Take a look from Congressional to local races, there are four city Council seats in the city of San Diego, where are the districting the most fundraising? It's been the most fundraising is in the district to raise the income it is Lori Zappa who raised $66,000 so far. This is a district that covers point Loma, and parts of the coast. We know the runner up in that race has raised about $35,000. Lori Zappa is well ahead and these areas are not as popular. We are not seeing as much money in the County as much in the congressional level. >>> That was Eye News Source data reporter Jill Castellano speaking with Michael Lipkin.

The June primary is less than three weeks away, which means campaign ads are out in force.

KPBS media partner inewsource has been following the money that funds those ads and other campaign expenses. Investigative data reporter Jill Castellano is tracking the spending in nearly a dozen races.

There's been more than $1 million in spending from political action committees so far in the district attorney's race, the type of money more typical in a congressional campaign.

Since January 2017, the leading Democrats in the 49th Congressional District race to replace Republican Darrell Issa have raise more than $800,000 each. Top fundraiser Paul Kerr raised nearly $2 million. The top Republican fundraiser only raised about $400,000.

The next campaign filing deadline is May 24.

Castellano joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with updates from the DA's race and congressional campaigns.