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Will Gloria hire sketchy Sloat as homeless lobbyist?

Hefty bribes to politicians including Cuban artwork

Los Angeles Times: “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”
Los Angeles Times: “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”

Wanted: homeless lobbyist

As homeless people swamp the streets of San Diego, the city’s Housing Commission is preparing to spend big money for a Sacramento lobbyist, presumably to chase a windfall of homeless-related state taxpayer cash. The lobbyist’s job, per a December 14 Request for Proposals, includes introducing commission staffers “to key elected officials, state agency staff, and other pertinent advocacy groups,” as well as “establishing relationships between elected officials, legislative staff, chairs, and consultants of key committees, and other important decision-makers and key stakeholders.”

The commission’s new influence peddler, for which compensation has not been set, is also supposed to “analyze and evaluate upcoming State legislation, including but not limited to bills addressing housing, homelessness, local land use policy, transit-oriented development, public housing authorities, and other subsidized housing-related bills, including funding opportunities related to these topics.”

Bill Walton would like Todd Gloria to step up his game.

Ex-legislative Democrat and current San Diego mayor Todd Gloria, under increasing fire about his laggard’s response on the homelessness issue from a range of critics, including retired basketball star Bill Walton, has long been charmed by the opaque wiles of California lobbyists. Back in 2013, after he became acting mayor following the scandal-induced fall of fellow Democrat Bob Filner, Gloria hastily rehired the controversial Sacramento influence-peddling firm of Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates, which Filner had let go.

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Sponsored

Shortly afterward, on December 26, 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported on a lawsuit by an ex-Sloat employee charging that the firm “tapped its roster of Fortune 500 clients to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks to favored politicians.” According to the account, the complaint charged that Sloat founder Kevin Sloat, “who was once an aide to former Gov. Pete Wilson, also improperly gave gifts to legislators, instructing that no written record of them be kept.”

Sloat and his firm were eventually fined $133,500 by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission in February 2014, but the penalty did not satisfy everyone. “It’s not sufficient,” Jesse Ortiz, a lawyer for the ex-Sloat employee who sued, told the Los Angeles Times. “I think Mr. Sloat should be held accountable for all of his actions and not just some of them, which is what the FPPC decided to do.” According to the Times account, “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”

Pinocho en dudas by Javier Guerra

Not included in the FPPC’s case, the report says, was an allegation in the lawsuit that “a state assemblyman received an unreported gift when Sloat ‘made arrangements’ with a Cuban artist to sell the lawmaker a painting at a deep discount from the asking price.” The art was sold at “nearly 50% below the asking price,” the lawsuit alleged. Further, “the price was not available to any member of the general public.” The report added, “Ortiz said the lawmaker who bought the painting from Cuban artist Javier Guerra was Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) and that it should have been reported as a gift.”

Filner’s elected successor, Republican Kevin Faulconer, replaced Sloat with Platinum Advisors, run by longtime Democratic fundraiser Darius Anderson, whose firm paid $500,000 to settle a case by then-New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo “stemming from a yearlong investigation into so-called pay-to-play practices in city and state pension fund investment partnerships,” the Los Angeles Times reported in August 2010. California disclosure records show that under Gloria, the city now pays Platinum $42,000 a month, with a total of $280,000 so far this legislative session for lobbying services in the state capitol. Platinum’s other clients are the GEO Group, the private prison operator, which has thus far this cycle paid the lobbyists $210,941, per state disclosure filings; and Communities for California Cardrooms, with $228,309. In October 2018, Platinum gave $800 to San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s first term campaign, records show.

Jonathan Clay, lobbyist who got PPP loan

Nielsen Merksamer, a high-powered lobbyist with ties to Big Oil, is the county’s current biggest lobbyist, getting a total of $367,656 so far this session. JGC Government Relations was paid $241,198 during the same period. A year ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that JGC was among “dozens of California lobbying firms” that got “millions of dollars in emergency federal assistance meant for small businesses to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, though some were ineligible for the program.” JGC president Jonathan Clay, son of longtime San Diego County lobbyist Ben Clay, told the paper he took out a so-called Paycheck Protection Program loan “because he wasn’t sure what his business model, which relies primarily on lobbying, would look like with the Capitol shut down.”

Isadore Hall III knew a guy who knew a guy who painted stuff.

After initial confusion, according to the account, “Clay said he ultimately believed that he had followed all of the correct regulations. His firm — which reported $721,618 in lobbying payments last year, from clients including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and San Diego County — received a $95,358 loan to protect three jobs, which was forgiven as of March. He looked into getting another loan when Congress added more funding for a second round and did not continue once he found out that the federal government had issued additional guidance preventing the use of PPP money for lobbying.”

— 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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Los Angeles Times: “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”
Los Angeles Times: “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”

Wanted: homeless lobbyist

As homeless people swamp the streets of San Diego, the city’s Housing Commission is preparing to spend big money for a Sacramento lobbyist, presumably to chase a windfall of homeless-related state taxpayer cash. The lobbyist’s job, per a December 14 Request for Proposals, includes introducing commission staffers “to key elected officials, state agency staff, and other pertinent advocacy groups,” as well as “establishing relationships between elected officials, legislative staff, chairs, and consultants of key committees, and other important decision-makers and key stakeholders.”

The commission’s new influence peddler, for which compensation has not been set, is also supposed to “analyze and evaluate upcoming State legislation, including but not limited to bills addressing housing, homelessness, local land use policy, transit-oriented development, public housing authorities, and other subsidized housing-related bills, including funding opportunities related to these topics.”

Bill Walton would like Todd Gloria to step up his game.

Ex-legislative Democrat and current San Diego mayor Todd Gloria, under increasing fire about his laggard’s response on the homelessness issue from a range of critics, including retired basketball star Bill Walton, has long been charmed by the opaque wiles of California lobbyists. Back in 2013, after he became acting mayor following the scandal-induced fall of fellow Democrat Bob Filner, Gloria hastily rehired the controversial Sacramento influence-peddling firm of Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates, which Filner had let go.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Shortly afterward, on December 26, 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported on a lawsuit by an ex-Sloat employee charging that the firm “tapped its roster of Fortune 500 clients to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks to favored politicians.” According to the account, the complaint charged that Sloat founder Kevin Sloat, “who was once an aide to former Gov. Pete Wilson, also improperly gave gifts to legislators, instructing that no written record of them be kept.”

Sloat and his firm were eventually fined $133,500 by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission in February 2014, but the penalty did not satisfy everyone. “It’s not sufficient,” Jesse Ortiz, a lawyer for the ex-Sloat employee who sued, told the Los Angeles Times. “I think Mr. Sloat should be held accountable for all of his actions and not just some of them, which is what the FPPC decided to do.” According to the Times account, “Sloat admitted to making improper campaign contributions to 37 politicians in the form of expensive wine, liquor, and cigars provided at fundraisers, as well as improperly arranging gifts including sports tickets for three officials.”

Pinocho en dudas by Javier Guerra

Not included in the FPPC’s case, the report says, was an allegation in the lawsuit that “a state assemblyman received an unreported gift when Sloat ‘made arrangements’ with a Cuban artist to sell the lawmaker a painting at a deep discount from the asking price.” The art was sold at “nearly 50% below the asking price,” the lawsuit alleged. Further, “the price was not available to any member of the general public.” The report added, “Ortiz said the lawmaker who bought the painting from Cuban artist Javier Guerra was Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) and that it should have been reported as a gift.”

Filner’s elected successor, Republican Kevin Faulconer, replaced Sloat with Platinum Advisors, run by longtime Democratic fundraiser Darius Anderson, whose firm paid $500,000 to settle a case by then-New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo “stemming from a yearlong investigation into so-called pay-to-play practices in city and state pension fund investment partnerships,” the Los Angeles Times reported in August 2010. California disclosure records show that under Gloria, the city now pays Platinum $42,000 a month, with a total of $280,000 so far this legislative session for lobbying services in the state capitol. Platinum’s other clients are the GEO Group, the private prison operator, which has thus far this cycle paid the lobbyists $210,941, per state disclosure filings; and Communities for California Cardrooms, with $228,309. In October 2018, Platinum gave $800 to San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s first term campaign, records show.

Jonathan Clay, lobbyist who got PPP loan

Nielsen Merksamer, a high-powered lobbyist with ties to Big Oil, is the county’s current biggest lobbyist, getting a total of $367,656 so far this session. JGC Government Relations was paid $241,198 during the same period. A year ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that JGC was among “dozens of California lobbying firms” that got “millions of dollars in emergency federal assistance meant for small businesses to ride out the coronavirus pandemic, though some were ineligible for the program.” JGC president Jonathan Clay, son of longtime San Diego County lobbyist Ben Clay, told the paper he took out a so-called Paycheck Protection Program loan “because he wasn’t sure what his business model, which relies primarily on lobbying, would look like with the Capitol shut down.”

Isadore Hall III knew a guy who knew a guy who painted stuff.

After initial confusion, according to the account, “Clay said he ultimately believed that he had followed all of the correct regulations. His firm — which reported $721,618 in lobbying payments last year, from clients including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and San Diego County — received a $95,358 loan to protect three jobs, which was forgiven as of March. He looked into getting another loan when Congress added more funding for a second round and did not continue once he found out that the federal government had issued additional guidance preventing the use of PPP money for lobbying.”

— 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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