Hotshot California lobbyists Bob White, Craig Benedetto, and Ben Haddad are giving to San Diego candidates.
  • Hotshot California lobbyists Bob White, Craig Benedetto, and Ben Haddad are giving to San Diego candidates.
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California Strategies, the Sacramento-based lobbying outfit run by Bob White, ex-aide to former San Diego mayor and California governor Pete Wilson, was very busy at San Diego city hall during the final quarter of 2011, according to the firm’s recently filed disclosure report. The company was also a big player in mayoral politics. GOP assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was the firm’s unanimous pick for the city’s next mayor, with White and six fellow executives contributing a total of $2950. Lobbyists Craig Benedetto and Ben Haddad each gave $500 to the reelection bid of city attorney Jan Goldsmith. In addition, Benedetto made a $250 contribution to the reelection campaign of Democratic incumbent Todd Gloria, and Haddad gave $250 to Mark Kersey, a Republican running in city council district 5. Benedetto gave Kersey $500. The pair also hosted an October 2011 fund-raiser for Kersey that raised $520.

On the income side of the ledger, California Strategies was paid $22,500 by Solar Turbines Incorporated to oppose development of Fat City Lofts, a new condo project being developed by noted local architect Jonathan Segal across the street from the company’s waterfront factory. The City’s Centre City Development Corporation voted against the development in January, causing Laurie Black to resign from the board. Segal has appealed to the Planning Commission, with a hearing expected within the next few months. According to disclosure records, Benedetto and Haddad lobbied Brad Richter, Brandon Nichols, Kim Kilkenny, and Frank Alessi, all from the development corporation, as well as David Graham of the mayor’s office.

California Strategies also received $22,500 from Rural/Metro San Diego, the Arizona-based outfit that last year drew a harsh report by the city auditor. Benedetto and Haddad lobbied councilmembers Tony Young and Lorie Zapf “to enhance the reputation of the company and maintain the current contract with the City of San Diego to provide ambulance services.” Capital Power Corporation of Edmonton, Canada, paid the firm $18,000 to convince the city council to award it a “Long-term lease enabling development of a power plant.” And Enterprise Rent-A-Car forked over $6000 regarding “Maintenance of rental car fees/tax at current rates.”

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InOmbra March 28, 2012 @ 2:52 p.m.

Legislative and elective politics controlled by well-paid lobbyists is increasingly creating local, state, and federal governments that represent only insiders or corporate backers. Paul Krugman wrote about this earlier this week, focusing on the powerful American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lobby group and crony capitalism. link text

The ALEC model includes providing legislators with templates of a specific desired bill, ready to go and completely written, with exact language. All the legislator has to do is have staff prepare it for introduction and put his/her name on it. The legislator does this because of money donated, position or deal promised, or threat of support withheld.

This is happening in San Diego with our councilmembers and our state legislators, and it is really frightening. In the final months of Jerry Sanders' reign over San Diego, he is quietly but fiercely pursuing changes locally and statewide that will undermine democracy and deny San Diegans a voice, for years to come. Yes, people who are surveyed seem to think he is a nice guy. But what he and his crony Goldsmith are doing to the future of San Diego and to its taxpayers is vile.

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