Todd Gloria faced off against fellow Democrat and main mayoral rival Barbara Bry at Friday debate. Photo by Chris Stone

Four days after declaring that “I am absolutely running for mayor of San Diego,” Assemblyman Todd Gloria filed paperwork Tuesday morning to seek re-election in his San Diego district.

Gloria signed the Form 501 “candidate intention statement” dated Aug. 13. Under “Office Sought” is typed “Assemblymember State of California.”

The development appears to be fallout from an issue raised by Councilwoman Barbara Bry — his main rival — during her closing statement Friday in a mayoral debate at San Diego City College.

Bry noted the existence of a fundraising committee Gloria set up for the 2020 Assembly race and asked: “Mr. Gloria, I want to know what office you are running for.”

He didn’t respond on stage, but told Times of San Diego afterward that the committee was part of his Assembly majority whip role to raise money for fellow Democrats in Sacramento and beyond.

On Twitter Tuesday night, Gloria spokesman Nick Serrano said: “Nothing has changed, Ken. Todd is running for Mayor.” He didn’t respond to questions about the 501 filing.

On Wednesday, Gloria used his personal Twitter account to declare he’s running only for mayor. He said his 501 filing Tuesday corrected an “administrative opversight.”

On Monday, however, Alberto Garcia of La Prensa San Diego — the largest local Hispanic newspaper — reported that Gloria may have violated state law by failing to file his intention to run for re-election before raising over $300,000 for his Assembly committee.

“State law requires that all candidates file a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement declaring their candidacy for election or re-election before any money can be raised for a campaign committee, even if it’s the candidate’s own money,” La Prensa said.

In further reporting Tuesday, La Prensa said Gloria’s 501 filing for re-election to the Assembly was hand delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office the morning after the paper posed questions to Gloria’s campaign manager about the missing form.

Even with Tuesday morning’s filing, the California Secretary of State website by 6:15 p.m. had yet to show a Gloria candidacy statement for Assembly District 78.

A spokesman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission said Monday that no complaints had been filed about Gloria’s Assembly 2020 committee.

The spokesman, Jay Wierenga, told Times of San Diego that it’s “quite common” for people to have two fundraising committees.

“The most common is that an incumbent candidate would have an open committee for the office he/she holds and one for an election to a different office,” he said.

Wierenga wouldn’t comment on Gloria’s case specifically but said: “It’s perfectly fine to have two committees as long as they are for what they say they are and proper recordkeeping/reporting is being done.”

Also Monday, veteran San Diego political consultant Tom Shepard explained why Bry didn’t raise the issue until the last moments of the debate — when Gloria couldn’t respond.

“She anticipated the issue would be the subject of a question during the debate,” Shepard said via email. “Since it didn’t come up, she added it to her closing remarks.”

Shepard said there was nothing technically illegal about Gloria establishing the account, but “it raises several ethical issues and one potential Political Reform Act violation.

“We haven’t been able to find any record that he filed a Form 501 Declaration of Candidacy Form for the 2020 Assembly race, which is required before a candidate-controlled committee can begin raising funds,” he noted. “If confirmed, this would be a violation of the Political Reform Act and could taint funds raised and expended by the 2020 committee.”

What did Bry hope to gain by noting the Assembly 2020 issue?

Shepard, a strategist for her campaign, said: “I don’t think most San Diego voters want Sacramento special interests helping finance a candidate for mayor, nor would they support an attempt by a mayoral candidate to circumvent the city’s campaign finance ordinance.”

Todd Gloria’s candidate intention statement for 78th Assembly District race. (PDF)

He added: “You can clearly see in Gloria’s 2020 Assembly committee campaign report that money has been paid to state legislators’ campaign committees and subsequently these legislators endorsed his candidacy for mayor. [The committee] also made expenditures for items that are not related to legitimate Assembly-related activities.”

Shepard said he fully anticipated that Gloria would run for mayor.

“But if he is concerned with transparency, compliance with local campaign finance laws and independence from Sacramento special interests, it’s a bad way to start his campaign,” he said.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. Aug. 14, 2019

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