Congressman Bob Filner, running for mayor against city councilman Carl DeMaio, is being warily eyed by the ranks of the city’s lobbyists. But after his recent flip-flop in support of Irwin Jacobs’s controversial plan to remake Balboa Park, the South Bay Democrat is expected to claim his share of special interest cash in the days leading to November. Even before the Balboa Park bombshell, Filner had been making inroads into DeMaio’s real-estate-development base, where a big chunk of the city’s campaign cash lies.
A case in point: venerable downtown influence-peddling firm the Clay Company. Founded by now-retired superlobbyist Ben Clay, the outfit is staffed by his wife Nikki, along with Stephanie Saathoff, wife of onetime firefighters-union honcho Ron Saathoff, and Maddy Kilkenny. Stephanie Saathoff gave Filner $250 in April.
During the second quarter of this year, the trio hauled in lucre from a wide array of development interests. The firm got $22,210 from Allied Waste for lobbying on behalf of the Sycamore Landfill expansion. The three women got in touch with an impressive array of city officials, including Democratic city councilman David Alvarez and GOP councilwoman Lorie Zapf, as well as council staffers and Jay Goldstone, chief of operations for lame duck mayor Jerry Sanders. From Daimler/Mercedes-Benz USA came $2663 to grease the wheels for an “on-going pilot program” involving those blue-and-white buglike rental cars. Garden Communities forked over $14,157 to lobby for a big University City land-use change. Gray East Village San Diego, LLC, paid $5720 for something called the “Blue Sky Project” downtown. According to Gray’s website, the project intends to offer “high-end units, designed specifically for the urban California lifestyle, in two towers planned for the block located between A and B Streets, 8th and 9th Avenues.” Kaiser Permanente coughed up $8758 for “new hospital land use approval.” Otay-Tijuana Venture LLC, which is building a cross-border terminal to connect with Tijuana’s airport and is backed by Chicago billionaire and Los Angeles Times owner Sam Zell, paid the Clay Company $28,388.