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Atkins sucks in cash from Pechanga, carpenters union, moguls

Issa stays at Beirut's Hotel Albergo

“Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo.”
“Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo.”

Battle-weary posh

He didn’t get combat pay, but House Republican Darrell Issa, widely regarded as the wealthiest member of Congress, took off for Beirut last month on a trip entirely paid for by the American Task Force on Lebanon. According to his December 7 disclosure of the journey, Issa was in-country from the 11th through the 23rd of November.

Lebanese-American Darrell Issa got back to his Beiruts.

Total transportation costs were $4766, with lodging pegged at $888 and meals running $315. Also thrown in for free: a Covid-19 test worth $12.50 and a Lebanese visa costing $88. “Traveler is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus,” says an explanation for the journey. “The subject matter relates to his work on the Committee and the Caucus.” Issa and his fellow travelers stayed at Beirut’s luxurious Hotel Albergo, selected, according to the disclosure, for “Security and Location.”

In July, the website CairoScene put the hostelry on its Nine Most Beautiful Pools in the Middle East hotel list. “Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo. Set in a 1930s mansion in the ancient Achrafieh quarter, this glamorous all-suite hotel is an urban oasis in the heart of Beirut with an incredibly quaint rooftop pool; you’ll never want to leave.” Adds Forbes: “Get your Sultan on in one of 33 uniquely appointed suites — no, boudoirs — decked out in exquisite Lebanese-Oriental style. Antiques abound, including Ottoman chandeliers, plush Persian rugs, Damascus mother-of-pearl tables and colorful vases at every angle. Bathe in the Dead Sea — well, almost — with a scoop of salt left in a jar in your grand bathroom, then rinse it off with homemade local soaps.”

Besides quality pool time, junketeers got “the opportunity to meet with the President of the Lebanese American University highlighting the importance of US support of education and healthcare in Lebanon,” says the disclosure. A session with Prime Minister Najib Mikati was set up to yield “an understanding how the head of government sees key issues including: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, reforms priorities, building trust with the Lebanese people, elections.” Along on the trip was Edward M. Gabriel, head of the non-profit American Task Force on Lebanon, a former US ambassador to Morocco who operates The Gabriel Company, LLC. The firm furnishes “strategic advice to overseas governments and companies seeking to build and maintain strong relationships in the U.S.”

...San Diego city hall’s lobbying corps has lost an esteemed home-grown member to the service of Democratic mayor Todd Gloria. Longtime influence peddler Rachel Laing, an ex-aide to GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, has become Gloria’s new communications director. Her most recent disclosure filing, covering the third quarter of this year, lists New Urban West ($15,000) and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership ($7500) as clients. Her late husband Greg Block, a veteran public relations staffer for Gloria’s Republican predecessor Kevin Faulconer before joining Laing’s lobbying firm, ThreeSixty Public Strategies, in 2019, died of cancer last month. New Urban West’s controversial plan to jam 1200 units onto the former Carmel Mountain Ranch Golf Course was greenlighted by the city council by an 8-1 September vote.

Political spectacles

It’s the end of December, time for final 2021 contributions to the political committees run by powerful state Democrats. In the case of state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, National Vision, Inc., of Duluth, Georgia, a giant optical retailer selling eyeglasses and contact lenses throughout the country, checked in with $8800 to the Atkins Ballot Measure Committee on December 16.

Atkins asks, and many answer.

The same day, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians kicked in $15,000 for the fund, used by Atkins to back her favored political causes. Another of her cash hordes, a committee set up to finance her effort to get elected Lieutenant Governor in 2026, collected $5000 from the California YIMBY Victory Fund political action committee, pushing for higher city housing densities, on December 21. The day before, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Fund came up with $16,200. On December 16, David Crane and Mark Heising, two wealthy San Francisco Bay Area financial moguls associated with a group called Govern for California, gave a total of $19,600...An official San Diego County T-shirt? That appears to be what officials may have in mind with a December 17 request for bids to supply “promotional novelty items, clothing wear, and printed promotional materials with the County’s branding/logos for public outreach activities and events on an as-needed basis. The volume and scope of items needed will vary depending on the needs of the requesting department.”

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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“Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo.”
“Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo.”

Battle-weary posh

He didn’t get combat pay, but House Republican Darrell Issa, widely regarded as the wealthiest member of Congress, took off for Beirut last month on a trip entirely paid for by the American Task Force on Lebanon. According to his December 7 disclosure of the journey, Issa was in-country from the 11th through the 23rd of November.

Lebanese-American Darrell Issa got back to his Beiruts.

Total transportation costs were $4766, with lodging pegged at $888 and meals running $315. Also thrown in for free: a Covid-19 test worth $12.50 and a Lebanese visa costing $88. “Traveler is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S.-Lebanon Friendship Caucus,” says an explanation for the journey. “The subject matter relates to his work on the Committee and the Caucus.” Issa and his fellow travelers stayed at Beirut’s luxurious Hotel Albergo, selected, according to the disclosure, for “Security and Location.”

In July, the website CairoScene put the hostelry on its Nine Most Beautiful Pools in the Middle East hotel list. “Straight out of a Wes Anderson fantasy comes the beautiful Hotel Albergo. Set in a 1930s mansion in the ancient Achrafieh quarter, this glamorous all-suite hotel is an urban oasis in the heart of Beirut with an incredibly quaint rooftop pool; you’ll never want to leave.” Adds Forbes: “Get your Sultan on in one of 33 uniquely appointed suites — no, boudoirs — decked out in exquisite Lebanese-Oriental style. Antiques abound, including Ottoman chandeliers, plush Persian rugs, Damascus mother-of-pearl tables and colorful vases at every angle. Bathe in the Dead Sea — well, almost — with a scoop of salt left in a jar in your grand bathroom, then rinse it off with homemade local soaps.”

Besides quality pool time, junketeers got “the opportunity to meet with the President of the Lebanese American University highlighting the importance of US support of education and healthcare in Lebanon,” says the disclosure. A session with Prime Minister Najib Mikati was set up to yield “an understanding how the head of government sees key issues including: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, reforms priorities, building trust with the Lebanese people, elections.” Along on the trip was Edward M. Gabriel, head of the non-profit American Task Force on Lebanon, a former US ambassador to Morocco who operates The Gabriel Company, LLC. The firm furnishes “strategic advice to overseas governments and companies seeking to build and maintain strong relationships in the U.S.”

...San Diego city hall’s lobbying corps has lost an esteemed home-grown member to the service of Democratic mayor Todd Gloria. Longtime influence peddler Rachel Laing, an ex-aide to GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, has become Gloria’s new communications director. Her most recent disclosure filing, covering the third quarter of this year, lists New Urban West ($15,000) and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership ($7500) as clients. Her late husband Greg Block, a veteran public relations staffer for Gloria’s Republican predecessor Kevin Faulconer before joining Laing’s lobbying firm, ThreeSixty Public Strategies, in 2019, died of cancer last month. New Urban West’s controversial plan to jam 1200 units onto the former Carmel Mountain Ranch Golf Course was greenlighted by the city council by an 8-1 September vote.

Political spectacles

It’s the end of December, time for final 2021 contributions to the political committees run by powerful state Democrats. In the case of state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, National Vision, Inc., of Duluth, Georgia, a giant optical retailer selling eyeglasses and contact lenses throughout the country, checked in with $8800 to the Atkins Ballot Measure Committee on December 16.

Atkins asks, and many answer.

The same day, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians kicked in $15,000 for the fund, used by Atkins to back her favored political causes. Another of her cash hordes, a committee set up to finance her effort to get elected Lieutenant Governor in 2026, collected $5000 from the California YIMBY Victory Fund political action committee, pushing for higher city housing densities, on December 21. The day before, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Fund came up with $16,200. On December 16, David Crane and Mark Heising, two wealthy San Francisco Bay Area financial moguls associated with a group called Govern for California, gave a total of $19,600...An official San Diego County T-shirt? That appears to be what officials may have in mind with a December 17 request for bids to supply “promotional novelty items, clothing wear, and printed promotional materials with the County’s branding/logos for public outreach activities and events on an as-needed basis. The volume and scope of items needed will vary depending on the needs of the requesting department.”

— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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Comments
2

The fact that Rachel Laing used to shill for Sempra Engergy is a red flag. Will she try to draw attention away from the Ash St. building scandal?

Dec. 29, 2021

they are all crooks! best gov money can buy! May they drown in the sewer for which they dwell! and on another note, happy new year!.........

Dec. 30, 2021

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