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San Diego Zoo hires DC lobbyist for "funding opportunities"

Admission revenue and $10.5 million annual city subsidy inadequate?

Annie Kurowski, Ellen Riddleberger
Annie Kurowski, Ellen Riddleberger

The San Diego Zoo, which came in for scrutiny by the city auditor earlier this year for the way it spends its $10.5 million annual city subsidy, has hired a big-time Washington DC lobbyist to watch over its interests in the nation's capital.

Back in May, the city auditor issued a report declaring, "Changes are needed to improve fund budgeting, operations, and transparency" at the zoo, finding that "neither the City nor the Zoo can definitively determine that funds collected...are being used specifically for maintenance of zoological exhibits."

Specifically, the City has not undertaken an effort to monitor how the Zoo expends the funds. Additionally, the Zoo accounts for Charter Section 77a funds only at the level of its general fund and are not currently able to determine if the funds have been expended specifically on maintenance of zoological exhibits.

Although the language in Section 77a is very broad, efforts should be made by the City and Zoo to provide greater transparency and accountability over the use of funds collected from City residents under the Charter provision.

As a result of the auditor's findings, the city agreed to beef up its accounting of the money it hands over to the zoo.

Now comes word via a recent disclosure filing with the U.S. Congress that the zoo is venturing a bit further afield in an apparent search for government cash.

According to a lobbying activity report dated October 21, the DC firm of McAllister & Quinn LLC was paid $16,000 during the third quarter of this year by San Diego Zoo Global to lobby regarding "House and Senate Interior Appropriations Bills" for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

San Diego Zoo Global is a non-profit that runs the zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

A lobbyist registration report filed by McAllister & Quinn on October 7 said that the firm would be working on getting "Appropriations [and] grants funding opportunities" for the organization.

The company's vice president Ellen Riddleberger is handling the zoo account. According to her online profile:

Prior to joining McAllister & Quinn, Ellen worked for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for more than 11 years, and as her Chief of Staff since 2002.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and a former Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

She specializes in providing clients with strategic government affairs analysis and advocacy services as well as assistance with fund development through federal grants and foundations.

McAllister & Quinn’s director of grants and federal affairs, Annie Kurowski, is also working on the zoo account, the disclosure says. She previously was a domestic policy assistant for Republican ex-senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and a staffer the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, according to her online bio. We have a call into the zoo for more details.

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Annie Kurowski, Ellen Riddleberger
Annie Kurowski, Ellen Riddleberger

The San Diego Zoo, which came in for scrutiny by the city auditor earlier this year for the way it spends its $10.5 million annual city subsidy, has hired a big-time Washington DC lobbyist to watch over its interests in the nation's capital.

Back in May, the city auditor issued a report declaring, "Changes are needed to improve fund budgeting, operations, and transparency" at the zoo, finding that "neither the City nor the Zoo can definitively determine that funds collected...are being used specifically for maintenance of zoological exhibits."

Specifically, the City has not undertaken an effort to monitor how the Zoo expends the funds. Additionally, the Zoo accounts for Charter Section 77a funds only at the level of its general fund and are not currently able to determine if the funds have been expended specifically on maintenance of zoological exhibits.

Although the language in Section 77a is very broad, efforts should be made by the City and Zoo to provide greater transparency and accountability over the use of funds collected from City residents under the Charter provision.

As a result of the auditor's findings, the city agreed to beef up its accounting of the money it hands over to the zoo.

Now comes word via a recent disclosure filing with the U.S. Congress that the zoo is venturing a bit further afield in an apparent search for government cash.

According to a lobbying activity report dated October 21, the DC firm of McAllister & Quinn LLC was paid $16,000 during the third quarter of this year by San Diego Zoo Global to lobby regarding "House and Senate Interior Appropriations Bills" for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

San Diego Zoo Global is a non-profit that runs the zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

A lobbyist registration report filed by McAllister & Quinn on October 7 said that the firm would be working on getting "Appropriations [and] grants funding opportunities" for the organization.

The company's vice president Ellen Riddleberger is handling the zoo account. According to her online profile:

Prior to joining McAllister & Quinn, Ellen worked for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for more than 11 years, and as her Chief of Staff since 2002.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and a former Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

She specializes in providing clients with strategic government affairs analysis and advocacy services as well as assistance with fund development through federal grants and foundations.

McAllister & Quinn’s director of grants and federal affairs, Annie Kurowski, is also working on the zoo account, the disclosure says. She previously was a domestic policy assistant for Republican ex-senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and a staffer the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, according to her online bio. We have a call into the zoo for more details.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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