With Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer facing what may become a contentious reelection bid next year, the ex–public relations man has been seizing opportunities to rub shoulders with certain Democratic representatives of the national establishment.
Two weeks ago Faulconer went to the U.S. mayors’ conference in Washington DC, showing up on cable network MSNBC on January 21 to endorse president Barack Obama's call for more taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
"When you look at the backlog of infrastructure, particularly our roads, you look at our bridges," said Faulconer. "I mean, these are vital for commerce, these are vital for our families and obviously to drive around."
Now, according to the website of the Brookings Institution, Faulconer is set to appear with London mayor Boris Johnson on the topic of "Governing Global Cities for Growth and Opportunity."
The Washington DC think-tank is mostly known for being left of center; in 2011, U.S. News & World Report said 97.60 percent of its employees' political contributions went to Democrats. But Brookings is financially backed by an array of major corporate donors with their own agendas. Brookings describes its Global Cities Initiative as a $10 million, five-year project funded by banking giant JPMorgan Chase.
Chase executive vice president Peter Scher will introduce the Faulconer-Johnson event. During the administration of Democratic president and NAFTA free-trade advocate Bill Clinton, Scher was chief of staff and special trade negotiator in the Commerce Department.
After Clinton left office, Scher went to the multinational law firm of Mayer, Brown before moving to Chase in 2008, according to the revolving door website of OpenSecrets.org.
Leading Faulconer's discussion with the London mayor will be Brookings vice president Bruce Katz, ex–chief of staff to HUD secretary Henry Cisneros during the Clinton administration. In 1999, Cisneros copped a plea to lying to the FBI about hush money he had given former mistress Linda Medlar. Clinton later gave him a pardon.
In a November 2013 speech Katz endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership, the controversial Pacific Rim free-trade deal backed by Obama but hit by critics including ex-Clintonite, now University of California professor Robert Reich, as a "product of big corporations and Wall Street."
Said Katz, "each country benefits when new plants open anywhere in North America."
Such big-money Washington influence in San Diego politics is not unique. Of recent note was last fall's endorsement of Democratic congressman Scott Peters by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Qualcomm, the chip-making giant founded by Peters backer Irwin Jacobs, had given the national chamber $645,000, company disclosures showed.
Depending in part on what happens to the current ownership status of U-T San Diego in the coming year, Jacobs and his wealthy allies who backed Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher against Faulconer, could seek a 2016 rematch.
Next week's Brookings event with Faulconer and Johnson, a former journalist and member of the Conservative Party, will be available via live webcast. Whether Faulconer will be there in person or Skype in from San Diego via the internet is not specified.