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— Some San Diego city hall insiders are expecting the investigation announced this week by Mayor Jerry Sanders of that controversial Otay Mesa Blackwater training facility to be a whitewash. Exhibit number one, they argue, is the identity of one of Blackwater’s longtime lobbyists: Nikki Clay of the downtown firm of Carpi & Clay, which she runs with her husband Ben, a well-known lobbyist for local government agencies, including the County and Port of San Diego. According to city disclosure filings, Nikki Clay registered as a Blackwater lobbyist on July 14, 2006; she continued that status all through 2007, the statements say. In September of last year, Nicole Clay gave $320 to the Sanders reelection bid. The year before, she gave $250 to San Diegans for City Hall Reform, a Sanders political committee. But Ben Clay says that his wife’s advocacy work was limited to Blackwater’s now-abandoned plan to build a 700-acre training facility in Potrero, an unincorporated area of the county, and had nothing to do with the company’s Otay Mesa project within the city limits. The city registration, Clay adds, was made “in the abundance of caution” because Blackwater trainees might have come from the San Diego Police Department. A source says that several so-far-unidentified lawyers were Blackwater’s lobbyists for the Otay Mesa center, but as of early this week, no one has come forward to file a lobbying statement for that project.

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