A political committee controlled by San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio has paid $8482 to a GOP consulting firm currently in the middle of a conflict-of-interest controversy regarding its ties to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last Thursday, the firm, Mercury Public Affairs, was slated to get a $9 million public relations contract from the state’s high-speed rail commission. Steve Schmidt, who managed the governor’s 2006 reelection campaign, and Adam Mendelsohn, another longtime Schwarzenegger strategist, are both Mercury partners, and two commission staffers who promoted the Mercury contract are ex-Mendelsohn coworkers, the L.A. Times reported. “We are seeing a revolving door of legislators and former state officials and state employees going from public service to private PR firms,” Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, told the paper. As a result of the controversy, the vote on the contract was delayed until next month.
DeMaio, who is widely viewed as having ambitions far beyond the city council and as wanting to cement his ties to state Republicans, paid Mercury to develop “potential ballot measures on pension reform, labor cost containment, campaign finance reform, the conduct of elections, and opposition to tax increases,” according to a July 31 filing.