Thanks to the non-profit Independent Voter Project, founded by ex-state Senate Democrat Steve Peace, a horde of California politicos were on the road to Maui.
Steve Peace’s Maui Wowie
The seemingly endless covid lockdown may be the order of the day for civilians, but a horde of California politicos was on the road to Maui last week, thanks to the non-profit Independent Voter Project, founded by ex-state Senate Democrat Steve Peace. “It really doesn’t matter where you’re coming from as long as you have a negative covid test before you arrive here,” Peace sidekick Dan Howle, an ex-Eli Lilly lobbyist and current chair and executive director of the group told Politico.com, which reported that about 100 attendees, a third of the usual contingent, convened for days last week at the Fairmont Kea Lani. “Fair to say that the timing isn’t great,” Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College, told the website. “Anybody organizing an in-person event should think carefully about the optics, particularly in California, where the governor has just sent most of the state into purple. There’s a chance this will not be received well by the general public.”
Steve Peace seems unfazed by criticism of his political conference.
As usual, the official guest list remains a closely held secret, so curious constituents will just have to wait for the gift listings in next year’s filings of personal financial disclosure statements by state officeholders. In previous years, political partiers have included Republican ex-assemblyman Martin Garrick, busted in 2011 for drunk driving after being chased into the capital garage by Sacramento police. Some former financial sponsors of the event, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and the Western States Petroleum Association are no longer involved, per Politico. But Howle remains unapologetic. “At some point in time, you have to figure out a way for people to get back to some semblance of a normal life.” Added the account: “Howle emphasized that there would be no cocktail hours or impromptu hotel bar hangouts and that guests would be instructed not to move from table to table at meals, adding masks would be required at all times except when eating or drinking.
The event received special permission from the county to convene a group larger than 12 people, he said.” When the Sacramento Bee raised questions about the legislative blowout in 2015 after a reporter for the paper was barred from attending events, the Independent Voter Project posted its own online coverage. “Howle says members of the press are not invited to the event in order to protect the privacy of the attendees, and to facilitate the candid conversations that can only happen when the press is not peeping over the shoulders of these lawmakers and industry experts.”
The item, a link to which has since been taken down from the Independent Voter Project website, continued: “The conversations that took place between attendees confirmed that this is a common concern among lawmakers and industry professionals alike — that the current political and media environment is hostile toward business leaders and lawmakers discussing real problems and developing amicable solutions.”
SDSU’s costly stadium deal
California taxpayers paid the San Diego branch of multinational law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton a cool $200,000 for its lobbying work on behalf of San Diego State University during the third quarter of this year, says a November 2 disclosure. The firm’s influence peddling on behalf of SDSU’s acquisition of the property formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium from the city of San Diego included lobbying Cybele Thompson, the recently departed Real Estate Assets manager under Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, along with the termed-out mayor’s chief operating officer Erik Caldwell. The $88 million transaction was finally completed on August 6.
San Diego State lobbied mayoral staffer Erik Caldwell regarding the $88 million purchase of the stadium site.
Hines International, developer of the giant Riverwalk residential undertaking in Mission Valley that sailed through city council last week, paid Sheppard Mullin $235,000 for lobbying that project, as well as for seeking “approval of land use entitlements for the development of the Navy Broadway Project.” The bulk of development rights to that bayfront site were purchased in September from former Union-Tribune owner Doug Manchester by IQHQ, a biotech development outfit run by Texas-based Alan Gold for $230 million, according to a November 13 U-T report.
At least one unnamed high-ranking city official has been caught misusing a city vehicle, says the latest quarterly fraud hotline report by interim city auditor Kyle Elser. “An allegation of waste due to administrative staff using City vehicles unnecessarily was investigated and resulted in corrective action,” says the October 7 document. “A vehicle will no longer be assigned exclusively to the administrative staff person.” Another investigation involved alleged “unsafe handling of hazardous materials” that auditors found to be true. “The department took the appropriate corrective action with respect to the identified employee, and staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment.”
— Matt Potter
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