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San Diego lobbying payments set to hit $1.7 million

PG&E lobbyist and GOP PAC backers could be re-upped for two more years

PG&E lobbyist Darius Anderson and ex-mayor Faulconer
PG&E lobbyist Darius Anderson and ex-mayor Faulconer

Having been given new social justice marching orders, two lobbying firms for San Diego are set to be re-upped at a hefty six-figure cost to taxpayers by new Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria and his city council allies.

"Funding for this Agreement will come from the General Fund, Municipal Wastewater Fund, Development Services Fund, and the Environmental Services Fund," according to the item on the council's January 26 consent agenda.

"These contracts were previously authorized, and this action extends authorization to the Mayor, or their designees, to execute the two additional one-year periods."

In January 2019, Sacramento-based Platinum Advisors, LLC and Washington, D.C.'s Squire Patton Boggs both got an initial three-year term and two additional one-year options "at a not to exceed rate of $168,000 per year," according to a December 30 report to the council by government affairs director Adrian Granda.

Total costs of keeping both lobbying outfits on for another two years would be $672,000.

When extended, the contracts' total not-to-exceed costs would amount to $840,000 for each lobbyist's five-year term, per the agreements, raising questions of whether the pandemic-squeezed city could have gotten a better deal.

Council approval of the extensions is now required because "the original resolutions approving both contracts did not include the required budgetary actions and authorizations to allow the Mayor, or their designee to execute the two one-year option years."

As reported by the Union-Tribune January 22, the new council majority recently added a component to the city's "guiding principles for lobbying," mandating that the activity "promote social justice, equity and inclusive economic development."

The city's high-dollar lobbyists have drawn questions over the years, peaking in January 2013 when then-mayor Bob Filner fired Patton Boggs and the city's then-Sacramento lobbyist Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates.

Squire Patton Boogs maintained a secretive professional relationship with Michael Cohen.

"The job is not being done by our lobbyists, either in Washington or Sacramento," Filner was quoted as saying.

"There's no proactive policy. There's no accountability. There's no report. I got an invoice for $15,000 and there was no report attached or anything that they did for that money."

Following Filner's resignation in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, then-interim Mayor Gloria hastily restored the two lobbying deals, saying, "We need to make sure someone is advocating for San Diego's interests on the national and state levels."

Platinum Affairs chief Darius Anderson, a controversial lobbyist for Pacific Gas & Electric, has drawn scrutiny for his ties to Rebuild North Bay, a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit that critics say has engaged in influence peddling for business interests.

"It's not even a close call; it's blatant lobbying," Loyola Law School professor Ellen Aprill told Raw Story in December 2019. "The foundation is primarily a lobbyist, not a charity."

"The day after Christmas 2017, PG&E cut Rebuild North Bay a check for $2 million; the utility's largesse accounted for 75 percent of the foundation's contributions in the ensuing months," according to the web site's account.

For its part, Squire Patton Boggs, the city's D.C. influence peddler, has been in the news for backing Republicans tied to ex-President Donald Trump. "It has donated to Paul Gosar, a House member from Arizona who helped promote the January 6 rally that turned violent," according to a January 12 New York Times account.

The firm subsequently "paused" contributions by its political action committee in the Capitol riot's wake.

"The Squire Patton Boggs PAC's contributions to federal candidates in the 2019-2020 cycle leaned Republican, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which said the PAC gave 34% to Democrats versus 66% to Republicans," per a January 12 report by Bloomberg Law.

In addition, Squire Patton Boogs once maintained a secretive professional relationship with ex-Trump aide and convicted felon Michael Cohen that ended after the FBI raided Cohen’s offices in April 2018.

“The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” the company said in a cryptic statement cited by Law.Com.

“We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”

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PG&E lobbyist Darius Anderson and ex-mayor Faulconer
PG&E lobbyist Darius Anderson and ex-mayor Faulconer

Having been given new social justice marching orders, two lobbying firms for San Diego are set to be re-upped at a hefty six-figure cost to taxpayers by new Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria and his city council allies.

"Funding for this Agreement will come from the General Fund, Municipal Wastewater Fund, Development Services Fund, and the Environmental Services Fund," according to the item on the council's January 26 consent agenda.

"These contracts were previously authorized, and this action extends authorization to the Mayor, or their designees, to execute the two additional one-year periods."

In January 2019, Sacramento-based Platinum Advisors, LLC and Washington, D.C.'s Squire Patton Boggs both got an initial three-year term and two additional one-year options "at a not to exceed rate of $168,000 per year," according to a December 30 report to the council by government affairs director Adrian Granda.

Total costs of keeping both lobbying outfits on for another two years would be $672,000.

When extended, the contracts' total not-to-exceed costs would amount to $840,000 for each lobbyist's five-year term, per the agreements, raising questions of whether the pandemic-squeezed city could have gotten a better deal.

Council approval of the extensions is now required because "the original resolutions approving both contracts did not include the required budgetary actions and authorizations to allow the Mayor, or their designee to execute the two one-year option years."

As reported by the Union-Tribune January 22, the new council majority recently added a component to the city's "guiding principles for lobbying," mandating that the activity "promote social justice, equity and inclusive economic development."

The city's high-dollar lobbyists have drawn questions over the years, peaking in January 2013 when then-mayor Bob Filner fired Patton Boggs and the city's then-Sacramento lobbyist Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates.

Squire Patton Boogs maintained a secretive professional relationship with Michael Cohen.

"The job is not being done by our lobbyists, either in Washington or Sacramento," Filner was quoted as saying.

"There's no proactive policy. There's no accountability. There's no report. I got an invoice for $15,000 and there was no report attached or anything that they did for that money."

Following Filner's resignation in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, then-interim Mayor Gloria hastily restored the two lobbying deals, saying, "We need to make sure someone is advocating for San Diego's interests on the national and state levels."

Platinum Affairs chief Darius Anderson, a controversial lobbyist for Pacific Gas & Electric, has drawn scrutiny for his ties to Rebuild North Bay, a San Francisco Bay Area non-profit that critics say has engaged in influence peddling for business interests.

"It's not even a close call; it's blatant lobbying," Loyola Law School professor Ellen Aprill told Raw Story in December 2019. "The foundation is primarily a lobbyist, not a charity."

"The day after Christmas 2017, PG&E cut Rebuild North Bay a check for $2 million; the utility's largesse accounted for 75 percent of the foundation's contributions in the ensuing months," according to the web site's account.

For its part, Squire Patton Boggs, the city's D.C. influence peddler, has been in the news for backing Republicans tied to ex-President Donald Trump. "It has donated to Paul Gosar, a House member from Arizona who helped promote the January 6 rally that turned violent," according to a January 12 New York Times account.

The firm subsequently "paused" contributions by its political action committee in the Capitol riot's wake.

"The Squire Patton Boggs PAC's contributions to federal candidates in the 2019-2020 cycle leaned Republican, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which said the PAC gave 34% to Democrats versus 66% to Republicans," per a January 12 report by Bloomberg Law.

In addition, Squire Patton Boogs once maintained a secretive professional relationship with ex-Trump aide and convicted felon Michael Cohen that ended after the FBI raided Cohen’s offices in April 2018.

“The firm’s arrangement with Mr. Cohen reached its conclusion, mutually and in accordance with the terms of the agreement,” the company said in a cryptic statement cited by Law.Com.

“We have been in contact with federal authorities regarding their execution of a warrant relating to Mr. Cohen. These activities do not relate to the firm and we are in full cooperation.”

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