Proprietors of San Diego’s adult-entertainment establishments, prosaically known as strip joints, have been persistent about returning to the good old days of the business, when customers could reach out and feel the merchandise.
That was before then-mayor Susan Golding and born-again city attorney Casey Gwinn teamed up in 2000 with the Cincinnati-based National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families (formerly known as the National Coalition Against Pornography) to pass the so-called six-foot rule, which ostensibly bans strippers from getting any closer than that to their clientele.
The son of a congregational minister, Gwinn told adherents that nude dancing was the devil's work, not dissimilar to the religious skepticism of the late astronomer Carl Sagan.
"He was without question the most eloquent scientist and philosopher on the road to Hell that I have ever heard!" the city attorney thundered during a sermon he gave at an evangelical church.
Ever since adoption of the six-foot restriction, club owners have been trying to undo what Golding and Gwinn wrought, with the most famous attempt — the alleged bribery of three members of the San Diego city council — ending in prison time for Las Vegas strip-club magnate Mike Galardi, lobbyist Lance Malone, and city councilman Ralph Inzuna.
Then, in June of last year, two months before Inzunza finally left federal custody, his friend and golfing partner Marco Polo Cortes filed a lobbying disclosure statement with the San Diego city clerk's office that said he was working for a newly hatched nude-entertainment advocacy group called the San Diego Hospitality and Entertainment Coalition.
According to the filing, the coalition was seeking "fair and reasonable regulation" regarding "any matter related to the adult/nude entertainment industry."
Members listed included Red Eyed Jacks, Inc.; Knights Kearny Villa, LLC; Midway Venture, LLC; and Show Girls of San Diego, Inc.
A subsequent disclosure filing by Cortes reported the lobbyist got $10,000 for his trouble.
That was before the FBI swooped down on his condo in Little Italy this January with a warrant for his arrest in connection with the city's latest political money-laundering scandal involving Mexican national José Susumo Azano Matsura and his alleged financial support of Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner.
Cortes has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.
But the nude-dancing barons don’t seem to be dissuaded by their run of bad fortune. The latest of the industry's designated go-to guys is Jaime Rojas, Jr., proprietor of Rojas Communications Group out of Tarzana.
According to an August 6 disclosure filing, Rojas is the hospitality and entertainment coalition's new lobbyist, "representing the interests of adult entertainment club owners."
The firm's assignment, the disclosure says, is to "modify" the city's "No Touch Ordinance."
"Mr. Rojas began his political and government relations background at early age and was chosen to be a White House intern under the Clinton Administration in 1995," according to his company's website.
"He worked for White House’s Office of Public Liaison and Latino outreach for President Clinton, as well as for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In 1996 he was hired by the Clinton/Gore Re-Election Campaign to do state-wide political strategy & community outreach for California."
The site goes on to say, "Jaime has served as a visiting scholar at USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy's graduate school program and teaches government relations and lobbying."
We've left a voicemail for Rojas seeking further details about his strip-club gig.