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Diary of a Young influence-peddler

Democrat picks up lucrative GOP Lincoln Club clients

Tom Sudberry, Tony Young, Keith Solar
Tom Sudberry, Tony Young, Keith Solar

Back in January 2013, Democratic city councilman Tony Young resigned his seat in the midst of his term to take command of the regional Red Cross, after rumors circulated that he actually wanted to work for utility giant Sempra.

As it turned out, the Red Cross gig lasted little more than a year before Young quit in March of this year, to be replaced in the $185,000-a-year job by lawyer Bill Earley.

Young's abrupt and unexplained exit prompted a March editorial by U-T San Diego, owned by mega-developer and GOP kingpin Douglas Manchester, demanding to know more details.

"So far, the agency’s national office apparently won’t even adequately explain what’s going on to its local board, prompting three members to resign," noted the piece.

Since departing the Red Cross, Young has continued to turn up in public roles, most conspicuously as co-chairman of the "transition advisory team" of incoming GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The ex-councilmember has also taken to Twitter to express his differences with local Democrats, declaring on May 15, "I need the Democratic party to be more loyal to the issues of my community."

Now Young has surfaced as a full-time city hall influence-peddler, plying his trade on behalf of two big-name GOP clients, according to a lobbyist disclosure statement filed with the city clerk July 14 by his new firm, Civic Link Strategies.

The first client, Sudberry Properties, is the high-profile Mission Valley company run by developer Tom Sudberry, a major Republican contributor and past chairman of the Lincoln Club, the take-no-prisoners GOP group that savaged Democrats Nathan Fletcher and David Alvarez during their failed electoral battles with Faulconer.

Video:

Keith Solar Lincoln Club video

Number-two client is listed as the national law and lobbying firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. The outfit has a San Diego branch run by lawyer Keith Solar, another influential Lincoln Club member.

"My specialty is water law. I represent companies, public entities that buy and sell water rights, and real property where water is an associated component," Solar says on a Lincoln Club recruiting video, adding that he represented Carlsbad during the controversial development of a desalination plant there.

"I'm a member of the Lincoln Club because the Lincoln Club is the only San Diego County organization that's pro-prosperity, and let's face it, businesses have been much maligned lately."

Young’s lobbying disclosure says his mission for Solar's firm is to get it a contract to lobby the federal government on behalf of the city. As previously reported here, the mayor has issued requests for proposals for new Washington and Sacramento lobbyists.

The issue of who will get the lucrative lobbying gigs has long been a matter of under-the-radar controversy and contention at the city.

Fired by Democratic mayor Bob Filner, both incumbent firms, Sacramento's Sloat, Higgins, and Washington’s Patton, Boggs, were rehired following Filner's demise by interim-mayor Todd Gloria. Faulconer has kept both companies in place, pending the outcome of the current selection process.

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Tom Sudberry, Tony Young, Keith Solar
Tom Sudberry, Tony Young, Keith Solar

Back in January 2013, Democratic city councilman Tony Young resigned his seat in the midst of his term to take command of the regional Red Cross, after rumors circulated that he actually wanted to work for utility giant Sempra.

As it turned out, the Red Cross gig lasted little more than a year before Young quit in March of this year, to be replaced in the $185,000-a-year job by lawyer Bill Earley.

Young's abrupt and unexplained exit prompted a March editorial by U-T San Diego, owned by mega-developer and GOP kingpin Douglas Manchester, demanding to know more details.

"So far, the agency’s national office apparently won’t even adequately explain what’s going on to its local board, prompting three members to resign," noted the piece.

Since departing the Red Cross, Young has continued to turn up in public roles, most conspicuously as co-chairman of the "transition advisory team" of incoming GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The ex-councilmember has also taken to Twitter to express his differences with local Democrats, declaring on May 15, "I need the Democratic party to be more loyal to the issues of my community."

Now Young has surfaced as a full-time city hall influence-peddler, plying his trade on behalf of two big-name GOP clients, according to a lobbyist disclosure statement filed with the city clerk July 14 by his new firm, Civic Link Strategies.

The first client, Sudberry Properties, is the high-profile Mission Valley company run by developer Tom Sudberry, a major Republican contributor and past chairman of the Lincoln Club, the take-no-prisoners GOP group that savaged Democrats Nathan Fletcher and David Alvarez during their failed electoral battles with Faulconer.

Video:

Keith Solar Lincoln Club video

Number-two client is listed as the national law and lobbying firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. The outfit has a San Diego branch run by lawyer Keith Solar, another influential Lincoln Club member.

"My specialty is water law. I represent companies, public entities that buy and sell water rights, and real property where water is an associated component," Solar says on a Lincoln Club recruiting video, adding that he represented Carlsbad during the controversial development of a desalination plant there.

"I'm a member of the Lincoln Club because the Lincoln Club is the only San Diego County organization that's pro-prosperity, and let's face it, businesses have been much maligned lately."

Young’s lobbying disclosure says his mission for Solar's firm is to get it a contract to lobby the federal government on behalf of the city. As previously reported here, the mayor has issued requests for proposals for new Washington and Sacramento lobbyists.

The issue of who will get the lucrative lobbying gigs has long been a matter of under-the-radar controversy and contention at the city.

Fired by Democratic mayor Bob Filner, both incumbent firms, Sacramento's Sloat, Higgins, and Washington’s Patton, Boggs, were rehired following Filner's demise by interim-mayor Todd Gloria. Faulconer has kept both companies in place, pending the outcome of the current selection process.

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Comments
3

San Diego's elected officials dilemma: Is selling out to Big Business really selling out, just good for your own bottom line or both?

July 18, 2014

Thanks for this story. I have been wondering whatever happened to our AC/DC ex-City Council President Tony Young.

It was convenient to claim he was a Democrat at the beginning of his political career, but Young never showed much fealty to liberal or progressive values, ever, and often carried water for Downtown's GOP players when on Council, so probably we shouldn't be surprised that he has opted entirely for what's best economically for Tony Young. You can't argue with what has become the American Way.

I think coming up African-American in this town means learning to play ball with the old-time white power structure to get ahead, support your family, pay for those private college tuitions. It's sad, but Tony Young is much like many of his black predecessors: there are no John Lewises here.

July 18, 2014

To: George Rosenblatt I see it as more of a hit piece against both Parties which in San Diego seems to be either Pro Big Business or really Pro Big Business. In reality they all are really doing whatever they can to maximize their campaign coffers, while telling us that they are fighting for US...

Perhaps San Diego is growing into becoming the west coast New Jersey.

July 18, 2014

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