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Soccer City: Councilman Chris Cate Admits Releasing Confidential Memo

by Jeff Powers, published

In a news conference at City Hall, District 6 City Councilmember Chris Cate admitted he was the one who leaked a confidential city memo analyzing the city's position on the Soccer City project in Mission Valley.

In a prepared statement Cate said, "As the City Attorney's client in the matter, and an elected policy-maker for the city, I felt nothing in this memo was substantially new from her previous memo (which was public) on this topic. In my opinion, this memo did not impact the city's negotiating position or potential litigation. Further, this memo was not discussed in closed session."

Last June, City Attorney Mara Elliott issued a blistering statement of the leak saying, "Given this egregious breach of public trust, I further expect that the person or persons responsible will step forward, identify themselves, and resign their positions with the city."

IVN San Diego asked councilman Cate if he intends to resign over the issue, he said "No."

After his prepared statement, Councilmember Cate was critical of the City Attorney's office saying, "there needs to be a process in place. There is an opportunity for improvement from the City Attorney's office."


City Attorney Chief of Staff Gerry Braun issued the following statement following Councilmember Cate's news conference:

“City Attorney Mara Elliott has made it clear that this was an egregious betrayal of the public trust. The matter is being investigated by the Public Integrity Unit of the District Attorney’s Office. We have no further comment at this time.”

Braun told IVN San Diego that the DA's office has been investigating this case for months.


After reading from his prepared statement, Cate fielded reporters questions. When I asked Councilmember Cate to whom and how he sent the memo, he said he emailed the confidential memo to Craig Benedetto, FS Investors political consultant, who then, according to Cate, passed it along to FS Investors CEO Nick Stone. The confidential memo was then sent to Christopher Garrett, the attorney representing SoccerCity.

In June, Nick Stone was quoted as saying, "The document did not come to me from a city employee." But with Cate's revelations, the integrity of that comment appears disingenuous.

It's still not clear whether Cate sent the email from his personal or city email account. If it came from his personal account, there could be important legal implications.

IVN San Diego also asked Cate if he was aware if any other city employee had sent the privileged memo, he replied, "I won't speak for other council members."


IVN San Diego broke the news about Cate's admission to sharing the memo to Council President Myrtle Cole who said, "That is shocking. I was unaware it was councilmember Cate. Thank you."

Councilmember David Alvarez issued IVN San Diego the following statement, "Councilmember Chris Cate admitted to releasing confidential city information to the Soccer City developers. According to the City Attorney, this is a crime. No one is above the law, not even a councilmember."

Former San Diego City Council member Carl Demaio issued a scathing statement following the news conference saying in part, "Given his unrepentant announcement today, the San Diego City Council should immediately vote to remove Council member Cate from any Closed Session meetings and the City Attorney should refrain from sharing any confidential information with Cate's office."

Demaio, who now is the host of a poltical talk show on KOGO AM-600, also tweeted the following.

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