Laura Dvorak 5:47 p.m., Dec. 6
This spring's topsy-turvy San Diego mayoral race - featuring a conservative gay Republican councilman, an ex-GOP Assemblyman turned independent, a tough-on-crime lesbian district attorney, and an old-line liberal Democratic congressman - promised to shake the city's traditionally hide-bound politics to its core.
But now that things have shaken out in the form of a run-off between GOP councilman Carl DeMaio and Democratic congressman Bob Filner, some familiar special interests are edging out of the political shadows.
As reported here yesterday, DeMaio's forces have been joined by ex-San Diego Tribune newspaperman and power-lobbyist Al Ziegaus and associate Chris Wahl of Southwest Strategies, the local influence-peddling emporium whose clients include Cogentrix Energy, the troubled Palomar card room, and Fox Sports San Diego, now enmeshed in that Padres cable blackout being highlighted by U-T San Diego columnist Matt Hall.
Filner recently showed up at a Hall-sponsored rally against the blackout, pointing out that the Padres were subsidized by tax money and charging that city hall had been "bought off" by cable interests.
Then, late yesterday, after several days of rumblings in the political rumor mill, Filner - who has cast himself as the ultimate outsider to San Diego's Republican establishment - announced he had hired Tom Shepard, the city's ultimate GOP political fixer ever since the days he was a young aide to county supervisor Roger Hedgecock.
Shepard - who copped a plea to criminal charges stemming from the infamous J. David scandal of the early 1980s, which ultimately resulted in Hedgecock’s resignation as mayor following his own conviction - went on to become political guru to GOP mayors Susan Golding and Jerry Sanders, not to mention a host of other local Republican politicos.
The political consultant from Del Mar also made big money selling the taxpayer-subsidized Padres stadium and convention center projects to San Diego voters.
Shepard bills himself as "strategic advisor" at his own lobbying outfit, Public Policy Strategies, Inc., whose most recent disclosure filing, covering the second quarter of this year, shows that it was paid $5,000 by the San Diego Police Officers Association, the labor organization of the city's cops, to "monitor" what the form says were "city considerations regarding policy department matters, activities, and issues."
No fewer than three council members, according to the report, Democrats Todd Gloria, Tony Young, and Sherri Lightner, along with three top staffers to lame duck GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, Aimee Faucett, Julie Dubick, and Jay Goldstone, were lobbied by Public Policy staffers Khoa Nguyen, Phil Rath, and Kimberly Hale Miller, once married to Sanders press aide Darren Pudgil.
(Earlier this year, another Sanders media aide, Rachel Laing, an ex-U-T reporter and former Sempra energy staffer, left the mayor's office to become “communications director” for Public Policy Strategies.)
Other powerful clients included San Diego State University, which paid the firm $3,000 in lobbying about "city decisions affcting (sic) SDSU."
Rath, Nguyen, and Miller lobbied the mayor's Dubick, Faucett, and their colleague David Graham on that assignment.
Yet another client: the Carlton Oaks Golf Course, which paid $5,000 for the company to lobby for approval of a controversial sale of city-owned land.
And, according to the lobbying firm’s disclosure report, Shepard personally provided $12,000 in "campaign related services" to Nathan Fletcher, the independent state Assemblyman who renounced his GOP membership in the middle of his mayoral campaign this year against Filner and two Republican opponents.
The Police Officers Association, opposed to DeMaio, backed Fletcher and dropped a bundle of its own money and the funds of police labor groups in Los Angeles and Sacramento into a last minute TV hit against the Republican during the mayoral primary.
More like this:
- Downtown lobbyist fundraiser raked in $9,000 for Filner, filing shows — May 1, 2013
- More key lobbyist names emerge in wake of mayor's high dollar fundraiser — Jan. 24, 2013
- What election? Filner and DeMaio continue to hold big fundraising bashes — Jan. 24, 2013
- Lobbyist for billionaire’s Balboa Park makeover throwing Filner fundraiser — Jan. 22, 2013
- Key Sanders and Horn Political Operative Signs on with Pro-Jacobs Balboa Park Committee — July 9, 2012