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In the category of lobbying standouts, there’s both Sempra Energy’s Heidi DeJong Barsuglia, who purportedly mixed it up with ex–GOP assemblyman Mike Duvall this summer (they both later denied the hanky-panky), and Jim Cassie of Capitol Strategies Group, a contract-lobbying outfit that works for Sempra. Cassie just won first place for “best storyteller,” awarded by Sacramento’s Capitol Weekly, which asked all 120 California legislators to rate the legislature’s 1100 lobbyists in 13 categories. “Some lawmakers demurred from filling out our survey, citing a lack of time, interest or knowledge about the entire lobbying corps,” CW said. “But most members and chiefs of staff we spoke to were eager to participate.”

In the first nine months of this year, Sempra paid Capitol Strategies $96,000. Before going to work for the lobbying firm, SDSU grad Cassie retired in 2000 after 30 years at Sempra and its predecessor, San Diego Gas & Electric. Sempra became famous for its role in the 1996 passage of the controversial utility deregulation bill authored by Democrat Steve Peace that resulted in the infamous Enron rate manipulation scandal.

Well-known for his appreciation of fine food and drink, Cassie announced this September that he was starting a one-week “internship” at Sacramento’s Tuli Bistro, according to California’s Capitol, a political website. “Lobbying has been a great job, but there are other things I want to do with my life. And I’ve always been interested in the cooking part of the restaurant business,” he said. “Barry Broad writes books, Bob Giroux raises Shetland ponies and I’m interested in food preparation.”

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