Vincent Farnsworth 4:30 p.m., March 15
Fired U-T San Diego Columnist Hired by Influential GOP Lobbyists
Longtime Union-Tribune columnist Tom Blair, who served during the lengthy reign of late publisher Helen Copley, then later for Beverly Hills mega-investor Tom Gores, and briefly under the paper's latest owner, GOP kingpin and real estate mogul Doug Manchester, before being unceremoniously dumped this spring, has a new gig.
Blair's erstwhile colleague, Diane Bell, still working at the paper, broke the news Saturday that he has gone to work for Bob White, the former Pete Wilson aide who now runs the Sacramento-based influence peddling outfit California Strategies.
"Blair is joining Ben Haddad and Craig Benedetto in CalStrat’s San Diego office as director of strategic communications and media relations," according to Bell's report.
Blair, who between stints at the U-T was editor of San Diego Magazine, related the circumstances of his latest departure from the paper to Don Bauder here in April.
"I left the next day."
One of the first San Diegans who contributed to the presidential aspirations of Barack Obama (he gave $250, at a La Jolla fundraiser in March 2007, reports showed), Blair's political style was apparently not in sync with that of Romney-backer Manchester.
Said to be an old friend of White's, Blair is going to work for an influential lobbying outfit with close ties to lame duck San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, also not a big Manchester fan.
Three years ago California Strategies got $280,950 from the city-owned Centre City Development Corporation to act as a "community outreach consultant" for a mega-million-dollar new city hall proposal Sanders was trying to sell to taxpayers.
As we reported then, White, along with Haddad and Benedetto, had put on a Sacramento fundraiser in May 2008 that produced $5300 for the Sanders mayoral campaign fund.
More recently, California Strategies has worked for various contentious efforts here, including a victorious campaign by Solar Turbines to stop development of a condominium project across the street from the company's downtown plant, and a thus-far unsuccessful Sanders-backed bid by Capitol Power Corporation, a Canadian firm, to build a large power plant on city-owned land in University City.
Among the associates Blair will be joining in his new job is ex-GOP state senator Jim Brulte, who is listed on the California Strategies website as specializing in "Strategic Regulatory Consulting," "Business and Government Issues Management," and "Land Use Entitlement and Development Strategies."
Last September, Brulte's Fontana home and business were searched by FBI agents said to be looking for evidence relating to a San Bernardino land use bribery and extortion investigation. Brulte has not been charged in the case.
A lobbying disclosure report filed July 26 with the city by California Strategies shows that Capitol Power paid the firm $7,000 during the three month period ending in June of this year. Clear Channel Outdoor, seeking to amend the city's sign ordinance, paid $3,000. Controversial ambulance and paramedic provider Rural/Metro forked over $10,000. Ygrene Energy Fund, seeking to set up a "property assessed clean energy program," spent $5,000.
More like this:
- San Diego State marijuana lobbyist and big back taxes — Oct. 7, 2013
- Advocacy group closely tied to big hotel owner backs legal attack on Filner — Feb. 23, 2013
- Lawyer for hotel owners planning to sue city can't say who will pay his fee — Feb. 19, 2013
- New filing shows U-T's Manchester personally backed Carl DeMaio and GOP to tune of $283,900 — Jan. 27, 2013
- Solar Trains Hired Guns on Loft Project — Jan. 9, 2012