During the eight-year reign of Republican San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, his chief media gatekeeper Darren Pudgil was famous for tightly controlling access to the higher reaches of city hall. At the mayor’s news conferences, Pudgil told National Public Radio in April 2012, “We don’t let anyone in that we’re not familiar with,” adding, “We’re very open and we’re very transparent, but we’re very thorough in checking out who we let have access to the mayor.” In 2010, his then-assistant Rachel Laing told city public information officer José Ysea that there was no need to block a Reader reporter who followed him on Twitter, “However, their seeing something on Twitter or a Web site that interests them does not automatically grant them right to interviews, and we should continue to refrain from talking to them.”
These days the shoes are on the other foot, with both Laing, and now Pudgil, having joined the corps of compensated favor-seekers hired to breach the barricades of local government. According to her most recent lobbyist disclosure filing, dated January 30 and covering the final quarter of last year, Laing picked up $1200 from the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access for her attempts to gain “appropriate changes in [the] public safety ordinance” regarding marijuana. She also bagged $2200 from Los Angeles–based Kilroy Realty for peddling her influence on behalf of Kilroy’s controversial One Paseo project.
Meanwhile, ex-colleague Pudgil has recently started working the lobby at the county building. According to a disclosure filing dated February 25, the ex-mayoral mouthpiece has been retained by mega-developer Newland Communities to put the arm on the board of supervisors. Pudgil was formerly married to lobbyist Kimberly Hale Miller, whose current firm Rath Miller recently picked up a new client in the form of Helix Environmental Planning. Miller’s April 6 disclosure filing says Rath Miller is performing “monitoring” duties for Helix, which the disclosure identifies as an “ongoing provider of consulting services to the city.”
Earlier this month, Helix agreed to pay $143,382 to the city to end accusations by Republican city attorney Jan Goldsmith that former Helix employee Sarichia Cacciatore may have had a “potential conflict of interest” regarding her work for the firm while at the same time being married to Cory Briggs. He is plaintiffs’ attorney in anti-tax lawsuits against city hall that have aroused the ire of Goldsmith and his GOP hotel-industry backers, including Bill Evans and Terry Brown. The other half of Rath Miller is Republican Phil Rath, onetime aide to ex-mayor Sanders and GOP county supervisor Bill Horn.
Fresh off their deal with San Diego GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer on wages and working conditions, the city’s cops, through their San Diego Police Officers Association political action committee, anted up $2500 on April 13 for the San Diego County Republican Party.