Rachel Laing and Kimberly Hale Miller
  • Rachel Laing and Kimberly Hale Miller
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While San Diego ex-mayor Jerry Sanders lobbies for a border railroad and against minimum-wage hikes, records show some of his former staffers have taken to peddling influence for the city's mushrooming marijuana business; another is pitching for a big-time Los Angeles developer.

The latter lobbyist is Rachel Laing, the ex-Sanders media handler who left the then-mayor's employ at city hall to sign up as director of communications with Public Policy Strategies, a lobbying shop run by Tom Shepard. He is the political guru who guided Sanders and a host of other Republicans, including Susan Golding, into city office.

Laing's colleagues at Public Policy were Phil Rath, another ex-Sanders aide, and Kimberly Hale Miller, once married to top Sanders media chief Darren Pudgil.

Shepard helped mastermind the failed effort backed by Democratic Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs to elect Nathan Fletcher as Sanders's successor.

Shepard went on to become Bob Filner's personal political guru and briefly gloried as one of the new mayor's biggest grossing fundraisers, throwing a well-attended party at his downtown office in January 2013 that attracted fellow high-dollar lobbyists Marcela Escobar-Eck and Paul Robinson.

But Shepard's ride on the Democratic gravy train came to an abrupt end with Filner's resignation last year due to a sexual harassment scandal, and Public Policy staffers quickly deserted ship to set up their own influence-peddling shops.

Rath and Miller founded Rath Miller, LLC. “We approach public affairs initiatives with campaign tactics, using direct advocacy, situational intelligence and targeted public outreach to influence decision-makers,” the company’s website announced.

Among initial clients were paramedic contract seeker American Medical Response Ambulance Services, real estate behemoth Vulcan Materials, and the American Progressive Bag Alliance of Washington, D.C.

Now, a new client has signed on.

According to the firm's lobbying disclosure amendment, dated August 1, Rath Miller is working for RD Strategies, which the document says specializes in "advocacy for safe and responsible access to medical marijuana, regulatory compliance and consulting."

Topics of Rath Miller lobbying for RD are listed as three conditional-use permit approvals for "medical marijuana cooperative" premises located at 3487 Kurtz, 3455 Camino del Rio South, and 3895 Pacific Highway.

Meanwhile, former Sanders aide and Shepard veteran Rachel Laing, who herself has lobbied on behalf of the pot industry, has found a new client in the form of Kilroy Realty Corp., the giant L.A.-based developer fighting a controversial battle to build One Paseo, a 1.4-million-square-foot mixed-use project at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real.

City lobbying records show Kilroy has retained the services of multiple San Diego influence-peddlers in its take-no-prisoners quest for One Paseo, and is a sponsor of "Politifest," an upcoming pre-election gathering run by the Voice of San Diego non-profit news-and-opinion site.

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