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Juan Vargas headed to Kiev prayer breakfast

Monica Montgomery Steppe attracts all the special interests

Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast.
Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast.

Juan Vargas, holy man

Yet another member of San Diego’s delegation to the House of Representatives has reemerged on the free international travel circuit in the wake of waning covid-19 worries. A freshly filed disclosure statement shows that border Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast. Total transportation expenses for the junket were $7100, with lodging costs of $1000 and meals of $400, along with a $40 Covid test and $265 to cover the cost of something the disclosure calls the “VIP Terminal (hall).”

Explaining how the journey related to the congressman’s official duties, the document says, “Rep. Juan Vargas is one of the Co-Hosts of U.S. National Prayer Breakfast. His speech [there] inspired the Ukrainian leaders when he said that the nonpartisan event (U.S. National Prayer Breakfast) serves as a forum where leaders from all walks of life share personal experiences with faith.”

According to the disclosure, “Rep. Vargas is a great champion of unity and understanding between people of faiths. He recognizes the need for fellowship and dialogue between elected political leaders based on values of love and acceptance.” Adds an attached letter of invitation: “In addition to the Prayer Breakfast, we kindly invite you to participate in the Religious Freedom Forum 30 Years After the Fall of Communism that will be held the next day on September 9.”

House Chaplain Margaret Kibben, bringing the Good News to Ukraine.

Per the itinerary, Vargas, invited along with House Chaplain Dr. Margaret Kibben, stayed four nights at the Premier Palace Hotel, described by the disclosure as a

“historic and quiet hotel in the center of Kyiv.” According to the top review on TripAdvisor.com: “Premier Palace is the only hotel I have tried in Ukraine so far (and I did travel across the country) that truly matches Western European luxury standards and service. I have tried other 4/5 star hotels in Ukraine, notably in Kharkiv, Yalta, Lviv — and none matches this one.” Adds the review: “I believe going to Kiev won’t be as pleasant an experience if you don’t stay at the Premier Palace. The hotel is quite expensive, however....” Picking up the tab for the Vargas excursion was a group called the Ukrainian National Prayer Breakfast Organizing Committee, “funded by the donations,” per his report.

Vargas’s participation in the Ukraine breakfast drew the attention of the liberal Young Turks website, which in a September 15 dispatch described the annual event as “a hub for opponents of reproductive rights, and this year included a side discussion on ‘defending ... conservative values.’” Noted the report: “Vargas, who is pro-choice and has a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, did not announce the trip publicly.”

Lobbyists for Monica

San Diego Democratic city councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe has hit the fundraising circuit to pay for next year’s reelection campaign. “I’ll be honest, asking for money is my least favorite part of running for office,” says an October email solicitation. “We need to raise $5000 by the end of the month to meet our goal and stay on track — click here to rush a donation and help us reach that goal as soon as possible.”

Monica Montgomery Steppe doesn’t like asking for money, but...

During the first half of this year, the most recent period for which campaign contribution disclosures are available, Montgomery Steppe relied on a raft of lobbyists to bolster her money-raising. They included $650 donors Sarah Kruer of the Monarch Group (seeking a piece of the San Diego city-owned Sports Arena redevelopment action) and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck water honcho Christine Frahm, as well as Atlantis Group’s Marcela Escobar-Eck, whose firm’s clients include Chevron USA and controversial Carmel Ranch developer New Urban West. Kruer is the daughter of failed Democratic mayoral contender Barbara Bry, now running for county assessor.

Other professional city hall influencers coming up with at least $650 for Montgomery included Kim Miller of Miller Public Affairs, Clarissa Falcon of Falcon Strategies, and Aaron Christopher Wahl and Jennifer Wahl of Southwest Strategies. Republican ex-councilman Jim Madaffer, who operates Madaffer Enterprises, and his wife Robin, of San Diego Land Lawyers, also gave a total of $800. Nancy Chase of Public Policy Partners gave $650, as did Andrew Berg of the National Electrical Contractors Association. In addition, maximum contributions came from ThreeSixty Public Strategies partners Rachel Laing and her late husband, former mayoral press aide Greg Block. He died last week after battling cancer.

— 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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Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast.
Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast.

Juan Vargas, holy man

Yet another member of San Diego’s delegation to the House of Representatives has reemerged on the free international travel circuit in the wake of waning covid-19 worries. A freshly filed disclosure statement shows that border Democrat Juan Vargas headed out for the capital of Ukraine in September on a five-day trip beginning September 10 to attend that country’s controversial National Prayer Breakfast. Total transportation expenses for the junket were $7100, with lodging costs of $1000 and meals of $400, along with a $40 Covid test and $265 to cover the cost of something the disclosure calls the “VIP Terminal (hall).”

Explaining how the journey related to the congressman’s official duties, the document says, “Rep. Juan Vargas is one of the Co-Hosts of U.S. National Prayer Breakfast. His speech [there] inspired the Ukrainian leaders when he said that the nonpartisan event (U.S. National Prayer Breakfast) serves as a forum where leaders from all walks of life share personal experiences with faith.”

According to the disclosure, “Rep. Vargas is a great champion of unity and understanding between people of faiths. He recognizes the need for fellowship and dialogue between elected political leaders based on values of love and acceptance.” Adds an attached letter of invitation: “In addition to the Prayer Breakfast, we kindly invite you to participate in the Religious Freedom Forum 30 Years After the Fall of Communism that will be held the next day on September 9.”

House Chaplain Margaret Kibben, bringing the Good News to Ukraine.

Per the itinerary, Vargas, invited along with House Chaplain Dr. Margaret Kibben, stayed four nights at the Premier Palace Hotel, described by the disclosure as a

“historic and quiet hotel in the center of Kyiv.” According to the top review on TripAdvisor.com: “Premier Palace is the only hotel I have tried in Ukraine so far (and I did travel across the country) that truly matches Western European luxury standards and service. I have tried other 4/5 star hotels in Ukraine, notably in Kharkiv, Yalta, Lviv — and none matches this one.” Adds the review: “I believe going to Kiev won’t be as pleasant an experience if you don’t stay at the Premier Palace. The hotel is quite expensive, however....” Picking up the tab for the Vargas excursion was a group called the Ukrainian National Prayer Breakfast Organizing Committee, “funded by the donations,” per his report.

Vargas’s participation in the Ukraine breakfast drew the attention of the liberal Young Turks website, which in a September 15 dispatch described the annual event as “a hub for opponents of reproductive rights, and this year included a side discussion on ‘defending ... conservative values.’” Noted the report: “Vargas, who is pro-choice and has a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, did not announce the trip publicly.”

Lobbyists for Monica

San Diego Democratic city councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe has hit the fundraising circuit to pay for next year’s reelection campaign. “I’ll be honest, asking for money is my least favorite part of running for office,” says an October email solicitation. “We need to raise $5000 by the end of the month to meet our goal and stay on track — click here to rush a donation and help us reach that goal as soon as possible.”

Monica Montgomery Steppe doesn’t like asking for money, but...

During the first half of this year, the most recent period for which campaign contribution disclosures are available, Montgomery Steppe relied on a raft of lobbyists to bolster her money-raising. They included $650 donors Sarah Kruer of the Monarch Group (seeking a piece of the San Diego city-owned Sports Arena redevelopment action) and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck water honcho Christine Frahm, as well as Atlantis Group’s Marcela Escobar-Eck, whose firm’s clients include Chevron USA and controversial Carmel Ranch developer New Urban West. Kruer is the daughter of failed Democratic mayoral contender Barbara Bry, now running for county assessor.

Other professional city hall influencers coming up with at least $650 for Montgomery included Kim Miller of Miller Public Affairs, Clarissa Falcon of Falcon Strategies, and Aaron Christopher Wahl and Jennifer Wahl of Southwest Strategies. Republican ex-councilman Jim Madaffer, who operates Madaffer Enterprises, and his wife Robin, of San Diego Land Lawyers, also gave a total of $800. Nancy Chase of Public Policy Partners gave $650, as did Andrew Berg of the National Electrical Contractors Association. In addition, maximum contributions came from ThreeSixty Public Strategies partners Rachel Laing and her late husband, former mayoral press aide Greg Block. He died last week after battling cancer.

— 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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corrupt sewage. very sad and repulsive.

Nov. 19, 2021

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