Mercury vice-president John Ek, who handled the company’s San Diego lobbying business, received an $11,000 fine from L.A.’s ethics commission in February 2017 for illegally hosting 37 public officials at a $51,000 birthday bash two years earlier.
Just two days after a June 10 San Diego Reader report regarding Mercury Public Affairs and the controversial Los Angeles-based lobbying firm’s advocacy for a Tennessee ambulance company seeking a piece of San Diego’s paramedic business, the arrangement abruptly ended. Mercury registered May 29 with the city clerk’s office to represent Priority Ambulance’s quest for a deal with Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, but then filed a June 18 amendment saying, “Deleting client - Priority Ambulance, (06-12-20).”
Lobbyist John Ek illegally hosted 37 public officials at a $51k birthday bash.
As previously noted, Mercury vice-president John Ek, who handled the company’s San Diego lobbying business, received an $11,000 fine from L.A.’s ethics commission in February 2017 for illegally hosting 37 public officials at a $51,000 birthday bash two years earlier. Mercury is most widely known for how one of the company’s key executives, ex-Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, got son Esteban’s San Diego voluntary manslaughter sentence cut to seven years by GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Esteban Núñez, who as a result of Schwarzenegger’s action left state prison in 2016, is currently a lobbyist himself, advocating voting rights for California felons on parole. Now 31, the younger Núñez’s latest quest was written up by CalMatters on June 22. “Soft-spoken and quick to acknowledge ‘the damage that I personally caused,’ Núñez combines an inmate’s understanding of prison with a politician’s understanding of the Capitol,” the account says. “As a policy director for the criminal justice nonprofit program Cut50, Núñez is part of the tide pushing California’s penal system from tough-on-crime laws toward giving criminals a second chance.”
Adds the story, “Núñez’s transition underscores California’s increasingly liberal shift on criminal justice — he credits the leader of a prison rehabilitation program with inspiring him to pursue an advocacy career. But it also reflects the reality of Sacramento, where family ties run deep inside the Capitol.” Said Núñez, “I think I do have a unique opportunity to use the doors that my father has worked hard to open, for the greater good.”
Per the website InfluenceWatch: “Cut50 is an initiative of a left-leaning 501(c)(3) organization called Dream Corps. Dream Corps was founded in 2014 by Van Jones, a former ‘Special Adviser for Green Jobs’ in the Obama White House and a current CNN contributor.” Among recent ventures, Dream Corps and Jones joined with Madonna and rapper Meek Mill in April to provide 100,000 masks to prisons and jails nationwide. Last year, rapper and Superbowl performer Travis Scott and the National Football League said they would give $500,000 to Dream Corps to blunt criticism of the NFL’s handling of ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Fair Political Practices Commission sand no to Santee Mayor John Minto’s paid column in a local magazine.
Message to the Mayor
It was a “Nice try, but no cigar” letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to Santee city attorney Shawn Hagerty regarding the intention of Mayor John Minto to write a monthly column for a Santee Chamber of Commerce magazine partly funded by taxpayers. “Under the current agreement, the City pays the Chamber $1,600 per issue in exchange for the Chamber’s inclusion of two pages of City content (advertising and articles) in each issue,” notes the June 3 communication from the political watchdog’s general counsel Dave Bainbridge. “Therefore, the City expressly funds the production and distribution of the mailing in an amount greater than $50.” Concludes Bainbridge: “Including the name, title, photograph, or other reference to the Mayor anywhere in the Magazine would be a prohibited mass mailing.”
Minto is currently at the center of a Santee term-limits storm, in which a city council-sponsored measure he backs is facing off against a citizens initiative on the November 3 ballot. The citizens’ proposal would impose a limit of three terms: whether the terms are served as mayor or on the council. Minto’s measure would allow a Santee mayor two terms of four years each on top of three four-year city council terms, permitting a potential 20 years in office, versus the 12-year cap the initiative would create.
“This is nothing more than a self-serving conspiracy to confuse the voters who are looking for more honesty, integrity and transparency in our local government,” resident Janet Garvin complained about the Minto-favored measure in a June 19 Union-Tribune account. Responded Councilman Rob McNelis: “More choices doesn’t [sic] make us self-serving; it gives an opportunity to those who want something different.”