Gina Champion-Cain, the imprisoned Ponzi schemer, was famed for her philanthropy, self-touted business acumen and being a darling of San Diego media.
But who knew her politics?
Even when she mulled a race for mayor in 2003, her position papers and “five-point” plan betrayed little of her party preference. And she wrote checks to Republicans and Democrats alike, federal records show.
Now we know her party registration and voting history, thanks to records provided by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office.
In January 1996, Champion-Cain registered as “decline to state” in San Diego County. In March 2004, she switched to Democrat. But in September 2014, she re-registered as Libertarian.
Her husband, Steve Cain, filed a form in April 1996 to vote as a Republican, indicating he previously was a registered Democrat. He’s voted in Republican primaries ever since.
Cain is currently suing for divorce after 32 years, with a hearing set for Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court.
Both have stellar records as far as casting ballots. Champion-Cain voted by mail in every election since 2004 (the earliest year provided) — finally ending with the 2020 presidential election.
As a federal inmate, she can’t vote. But records indicate she was “eligible” in the September 2021 Gavin Newsom recall election and the June 2022 state primary.
Cain, a fellow Michigan native, has voted in every election since 2004 — all by mail and all in Republican primaries.
Jack Berkman, a veteran publicist who once worked for Champion-Cain, says he never spoke with her about party affiliation, adding that national politics never arose during meetings.
“We of course chatted about local races, and Gina seemed more interested in the person and not the party,” Berkman told Times of San Diego. “During this time … our city moved dramatically from R to D.”
He said his client was “very supportive of WOMEN always. We had several fundraising events at the restaurants and attendance was always her friends and vendors.”
Donors were mostly Republicans, he said, and “candidates ran the gamut and were usually the apparent front-runners.”
Berkman says Steve Cain was more private, “but R is what he was and appeared to be mostly.”
Champion-Cain’s husband was never in business meetings, however — only social settings, Berkman recalls.
“He was not pushy but had a fine presence and was never there to take any limelight away from his wife,” he said. “They were mostly separate in the room and found conversations and introductions on their own, instead of [as a] couple.”
But the public relations veteran depicts Cain as charismatic and likable and a “wonderful conversationalist. He was always confident, and solid. Never off his game!”
Thomas K. Arnold, the longtime freelance writer paid by Champion-Cain to prepare campaign papers for a potential 2004 mayoral race, says: “She struck me as a moderate — very much a pre-radio [Roger] Hedgecock, what we called at the time a ‘progressive Republican.’ Fiscally conservative but socially and environmental liberal.”
But former San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry, a Democrat who collaborated with her husband, Neil Senturia, on a book about Champion-Cain, was in the dark on Steve and Gina’s party favors.
“Knew nothing about their politics,” Bry said via email.