How much have San Diego taxpayers forked over to the giant law firm of Latham Watkins for legal services delegated to it by GOP city attorney Jan Goldsmith — the man lately in the middle of the storm about that hotel district’s lawsuit against mayor Bob Filner? A cool $537,391 in 2012, say figures released by the city following a request under the California Public Records Act. Parties to the costliest legal actions involving the city requiring Latham’s expensive attention included De Anza Cove Homeowners ($12,392); Marcus R. Abbe ($68,757); Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation ($100,491); and the biggest bill of all, the city’s long legal war with wealthy car dealer Roque de La Fuente over his land along the Mexican border ($233,151).
In addition to cash from the city, Latham has been raking in plenty of dough from various well-heeled private clients to lobby the very city officials that the law firm works for. According to the firm’s most recent lobbying disclosure statement, covering the final quarter of last year, Orange County development giant the Irvine Company, which has big real estate interests here, came up with $19,000 for Latham to obtain an extension of its moribund development agreement to build an office tower at the foot of Broadway. Latham’s Clifton Williams and Christopher Garrett handled that assignment, personally lobbying First District councilmember Sherri Lightner; deputy city attorney Keith Bauerle; and council aides for districts 2, 3, 4, and 5. In addition, Latham lawyers spread plenty of their political cash around to council candidates and hopefuls, giving a total of $1000 to Republican Ray Ellis, who lost to Democrat Lightner in November; $500 to GOP council winner Scott Sherman; and $250 to Democrat Bob Filner, after he was elected mayor.