SAN DIEGO - The gloves came off in San Diego's mayoral race after Councilman Kevin Faulconer went after Councilman David Alvarez and Alvarez went on the defensive.
The city has 55 seats at Qualcomm Stadium, worth about $60,000 over the whole season. Tickets to Chargers games and Padres games are then given away by San Diego city council members and the interim mayor.
"We cannot have politicians being in charge of giving out tickets to special interests," said Faulconer. "It's a program I don't participate in or my opponent does."
Alvarez said the timing of Faulconer's complaint is suspicious.
"This reform could have happened a long time ago. It's politically motivated, it's obvious," said Alvarez.
Faulconer said Alvarez gives out more free city-held tickets to big events than any other council member.
"I think it's one of those things to be open and transparent," said Faulconer.
Alvarez said he gives the tickets to community groups, underprivileged kids and groups interested in making San Diego a better place.
"There's some really unfortunate kids who never have a chance to go to a ball game and we've been giving them away to those kids," said Alvarez. "It's been a good policy and it's transparent … Everyone signs in. City Council knows who is going and who is giving them away."
Faulconer says Alvarez gave out 501 tickets in 2013.
Team 10 checked city records to find out just what was given away and found these examples:
- - Alvarez gave 29 city-held Chargers tickets to the Border View YMCA worth nearly $4,000.
- - 25 Chargers tickets to Casa Familiar, a community development agency, worth more than $3,300.
- - 10 Padres tickets to Jones and Mayer law firm in Fullerton, California worth about $870.
"Take those tickets, take those boxes … turn those into dollars that we can use to improve our neighborhoods," said Faulconer.
Alvarez said he has followed every rule and regulation in giving away tickets.
The rules say city leaders have to use box seats to market and promote the city. They are also allowed to give tickets away as they see fit.
"Kids who have big things in their lives, kids who have cancer … I think it's the right thing to do," said Alvarez. "As long as we keep track and we know who is giving them away then we should continue down this path."
Alvarez also said his opponent has "accepted" free tickets from people who have supported him, pointing to past financial disclosures.
Meantime, Faulconer says he will do away with the giveaways if he is elected mayor.