The approach of the 2020 presidential election season heralds the beginning of a frantic fundraising time for San Diego city officeholders aiming to stave off reelection challenges next year with campaign war chests bankrolled by a daunting array of special interests.
First up is Democratic City Attorney Mara Elliott with an impressive four-event series before the close of 2019's mid-year campaign finance disclosure deadline, virtually sure to rake in thousands of dollars from the city's corps of well-heeled lobbyists and lawyers.
"The June 30 deadline is almost here and I need your help to ensure we hit our goal," says Elliott in a June 14 email to putative givers. "We have several upcoming events I hope you can attend."
First, on June 19 is a get-together in Point Loma at the residence of registered lobbyist and onetime Republican Jerry Sanders media handler Rachel Laing and husband Greg Block, now a spinmeister for GOP San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Laing's current clients, according to her first quarter lobbyist disclosure report filed April 30 with the city clerk's office, include Greystar Rental Construction. The Solana Beach developer paid the YIMBY Democrat $8500 to advocate on behalf of Greystar’s controversial construction of a 20-story residential high-rise next to St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Bankers Hill.
Two days later on June 21, La Jolla lawyer Ana Sambold provides the at-home venue for another Elliott fundraiser, and then on June 24, the action moves to the offices of the white shoe downtown law and lobbying firm of Higgs, Fletcher & Mack, though the invitation notes "this is not a firm-sponsored event."
Instead, Higgs managing partner Steven Cologne is doing the honors. He currently serves as the primary litigation counsel for San Diego Unified School District on a variety of claims in State and Federal court," notes his online bio.
Higgs isn't currently registered to lobby with the city, according to filings, but the firm has been using the services of Southern Cross Property Consultants to lobby on its behalf "to achieve compliance with civil notice and penalty."
The April 2 filing goes on to say that Higgs, which paid Southern Cross $3325 for its services during the first three months of the year, is "seeking both an extension of time for compliance and a means of compliance short of vacating the premises," without specifying the address. Matthew Boomhower of Southern Cross lobbied Gary Geiler, of the city's Development Services department, the cryptic disclosure says.
Finally, on Thursday, June 27, Elliott hauls out some big Democratic guns to appear at Eclipse Chocolate on Fern Street in South Park. Assemblyman and mayoral hopeful Todd Gloria and former state senator Christine Kehoe are set to appear. Others on the bill include Heather Rosing, chief financial of Klinedinst Attorneys and Kevin Tilden, vice president California American Water.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, June 15, city council president Georgette Gomez, who led April's drive to advance a hotel industry and labor union-favored convention center expansion measure to next year's March primary ballot, is heading for a La Jolla fundraiser.
"You are invited to join hosts Tala and Cody Petterson, and Nancy and Derek Casady, for a fundraiser in support of my friend, San Diego City Council President, Georgette Gomez," says an email from House Democrat Scott Peters. "Please take the opportunity to come out and hear about Georgette's vision for a more sustainable and equitable San Diego, while enjoying food and refreshments."
Last year, Gomez's legal defense fund, which spent $10,150 on a Los Angeles law firm for handling an audit by the city ethics commission of her 2016 campaign fund, drew sizable financial support from hotel interests and city hall lobbyists. Donors included Rachel Laing, Marcela Escobar-Eck, and Robert Gleason, chief executive of Evans Hotels, per city disclosure reports.