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Party Chair Demands Councilmember Cate's Resignation

In a carefully worded statement, San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate today admitted he leaked a confidential memo from City Attorney Mara Elliott to the Mayor and City Council regarding the Soccer City ballot initiative. He gave the confidential memo to a lobbyist for FS Investors, the developers and proponents of the initiative. FS Investors have been denying receiving the memo from any “city employee.” In light of this development, San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Jessica Hayes has issued the following statement:

“This summer City Attorney Mara Elliott denounced the unauthorized release of the confidential Soccer City memo in the strongest terms. She explained then that her office prepared this confidential memo so that the city’s elected leaders “could best protect the public’s interest in their dealings with FS investors.” She continued: “This [leak] was a covert and strategic act that undermines the City’s position in negotiations. It was committed by a person or persons who clearly have greater allegiance to FS investors than to the citizens they serve…. Given this egregious breach of public trust, I … expect that the person or persons responsible will step forward, identify themselves, and resign their positions with the City.”

“More than three months later, Councilmember Cate has finally revealed that he was the leaker – and, as we learned today, only because he had been forced to tell the truth under oath due to the memo’s role in a related lawsuit.

“While the legal consequences of Cate’s betrayal of the citizens of San Diego as an elected official have yet to be determined, the City Attorney’s demand is even more urgent now than it was in June. Chris Cate has proven that he is unfit for office and cannot be trusted to faithfully represent the interests of the people of San Diego. He must resign from the City Council immediately and end his campaign for reelection next year.

“In his admission of guilt today, Chris Cate denied that he has taken a position on Soccer City. Yet the website paid for by Soccer City proponents prominently features testimonials – which are clearly intended as endorsements – from three out of City of San Diego’s five Republican elected officials: Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilmember Scott Sherman, and Councilmember Chris Cate. He lied again.  

“In June, at the urging of Mayor Faulconer, Mr. Cate supported joined his fellow Republican councilmembers in a party-line vote to hold a special election on Soccer City this fall. In July, FS Investors partner Nick Stone donated $10,000 to the San Diego County Republican Party, which is expected to spend heavily on Cate’s reelection.

“Even though that June effort failed, Soccer City’s developer gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot in November of 2018.

“San Diegans should be clear on what this means: An elected city politician leaked inside information to help downtown developers fleece the taxpayers. Then he tried to cover it up. This is the definition of public corruption. Beyond Chris Cate’s resignation, I call on the District Attorney’s Office to open an independent investigation into what happened here – including whether other members of San Diego’s Republican elected establishment were involved.”