Sempra Energy, beset by a leaking reactor at San Onofre and illegal bird-space penetrations in East County, among other troubles, has been currying favor among state officials in the firm’s traditional way, by providing them with free food and drink. According to its most recent lobbyist filing, the corporation hosted assemblymembers Steven C. Bradford and Bonnie Lowenthal, along with her assistant Niki Tennant, at Donovan’s steak house in San Diego on October 26; total tab for the trio came to $184.18.
But the giant utility’s biggest political blowout of the last quarter was what Sempra called its “Pre En Banc Hearing Dinner and Reception” for the California Public Utilities Commission at the City Club on Bunker Hill in Los Angeles on October 10, which set the company back $6460. (En banc is lawyer speak for all members of the commission being present.)
According to a September news release from the commission, which regulates Sempra’s utility businesses, including SDG&E, the topic of the body’s October 11 hearing was “its ongoing efforts to promote diversity in utility company practices,” with the theme being “From Sprout to Stalk: How to Grow Diverse Businesses.” The release added that the agency “encourages investor-owned utilities to purchase 21.5 percent of its goods and services from diverse firms (15 percent minority owned firms, 5 percent women owned firms, and 1.5 percent disabled veteran owned firms).” Commission president Michael R. Peevey was quoted as saying, “Supplier diversity is untapped markets, innovation, and richness of human capital; this En Banc is an opportunity to hear from some of our Fortune 500 companies about how they’ve integrated supplier diversity in their overall supply chain to benefit California consumers by increasing competition and lowering overall costs.”
Attendees at Sempra’s big banquet the night before the hearing included a bevy of state staffers and officials, such as outreach diversity officers Douglas Phason and Drisha Melton; business and community outreach advisor Marzia Zafar; general counsel Frank Lindh; and energy advisor Rahmon Momoh. Commissioners Timothy Simon and Catherine Sandoval attended, as did Assemblyman Steven Bradford, the utility reported…The Barona gambling tribe also played host to a variety of politicians during the last three months of 2011, including Republican Brian Maienschein, a former San Diego city councilman now running for state assembly. He got a meal worth $6.76. Incumbent Democratic assemblywoman Toni Atkins did a little better than that, with a meal worth $33.23 at Harbor Island’s C Level waterfront restaurant.