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With half-time approaching, it's been a lucrative political fundraising year for members of San Diego's congressional delegation, both Democratic and Republican.

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Freshman Democrat Juan Vargas kicked off the big cash harvest in March with his first annual “Margaritas, Mariachis & Mulligans” at Mission Valley's Riverwalk golf course.

Notable San Diego Vargas backers included developer William Ayyad ($2000); real estate man Bernardo Diaz ($800); Sunroad’s Aaron Feldman, developer of that controversial over-height building near Montgomery Field ($500); Fred Maas, the developer caught up in the scandal over so-called opposition research he commissioned against GOP ex-councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio ($1000); and developer Bruce Tabb ($2500).

Republican Duncan Hunter has scheduled a PAC funding fishing trip next month on a chartered cruise of the Potomac.

Not to be outdone is Darrell Issa, by far the wealthiest and most prominent member of the local House delegation.

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The GOP congressman and car alarm mogul, said to be eyeing a run for the senate and maybe later the presidency, chairs the high-profile House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he has made a well-publicized career of trying to keep the Obama administration honest.

Last month, the fox in charge of henhouse oversight was the beneficiary of a D.C. fundraiser hosted by VenPAC, the political action committee of Venable, LLC, a big Washington law and lobbying outfit.

Rob Smith, co-chair of the firm's Legislative Practice Group, did the honors, according to an invitation to the May 8 dinner at D.C.'s Rosa Mexicano posted online by PoliticalPartyTime.org

Venable's website describes Smith's long experience with the care and feeding of Congress thusly:

Mr. Smith represents a diverse client base including entities from the defense, pharmaceutical, health care, environmental, financial services and transportation industries.

A veteran of Capitol Hill, Mr. Smith uses his experience and knowledge to advise these clients on all aspects of federal advocacy, including obtaining federal funding, marketing and sales to federal agencies and developing effective relationships with their constituent members of Congress and congressional staff.

In 2004 and 2008, Mr. Smith served as a professional volunteer in the Official Proceedings Division of the Republican National Committee. In that role, he was responsible for the logistics and hospitality of over twenty members of Congress and VIPs.

Venable is one of Issa's longtime friends and money backers, as previously reported here in November 2010.

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