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Sempra funded anti-lobbying attack group against Saldana

Utility backs city hall influence peddlers mailing lobbyist-bashing hits

When giant Sempra Energy, which maintains one of Sacramento's biggest influence peddling operations, quietly funds a campaign group mailing out anti-lobbyist hit pieces, it must be political season.

At the center of the latest political antics is New San Diego, a political committee set up last summer by Gil Cabrera, lawyer and local Democratic politico anointed by Mayor Gloria as chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority board.

The new committee's mission, per its initial filing; "Supporting initiatives and candidates that will make San Diego and the region better for all of us.”

During the subsequent months of 2021, a host of big money influence peddlers and corporate special interests, including Sempra, chipped in a total of $105,850.

City Hall lobbyists giving to the committee included Craig Benedetto of California Strategies, who kicked in $1250 on December 7, 2021, per New San Diego's disclosure.

Benedetto's fellow California Strategies lobbyist Ben Haddad gave $1250 to on December 8, according to the filing.

Other New San Diego contributors included former lobbyist Rachel Laing, now chief spokesperson for Mayor Gloria, with $500 on December 10.

Miller Public Affairs , LCC, another influence peddling outfit came up with $5000, December 7.

Badiee Development Inc. gave $50,000, December 15, and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Fund contributed $5000 December 20. Mobile phone giant AT&T gave $5000 on November 29.

Sempra made its $2500 donation to New San Diego on December 20, per the corporation's Major Donor filing for the year 2021, dated January 22, 2022.

Curiously, New San Diego's disclosure filing covering 2021, dated January 25, 2022, does not show the Sempra donation, raising questions about the present status of the company's contribution.

In any case, New San Diego has lately launched a fusillade of hit pieces against ex-Assembly member Lori Saldana, who is running for San Diego city council in the city’s newly drawn Second District.

Viewed by many as a referendum on the performance of Saldana's fellow Democrat and opponent, council incumbent Jennifer Campbell, the race also includes Joel Day, a former city administrator under ex-GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The city's big labor-big money nexus, including Democratic mayor Todd Gloria favor the 76-year-old Campbell's reelection bid.

First and second finishers in June's primary election will move on to a November runoff, regardless of their respective percentages of the primary vote, and contributors New San Diego are looking to avoid untimely discussions of Campbell's pro-SDG&E record by knocking Saldana out of the Fall contest.

City campaign disclosure filings dated May 6 and May 9 show that New San Diego has thus far spent $34,129 on the anti-Saldana mailers.

"The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Lori Saldana took the most lobbyist gifts of any member of the State Assembly," says one of New San Diego's mailers, "second only to the Speaker."

An accompanying Sacramento Bee headline says, "Energy firms help pay for Calif. regulators far-flung trips," above a story that says Saldana went to Rio on a $12,500 junket paid for by the non-profit California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy,"which is funded by major oil and utility companies."

As it turns out, Sempra is a major backer of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, and SDG&E Senior Vice President Daniel Skopec is on the foundation's board.

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When giant Sempra Energy, which maintains one of Sacramento's biggest influence peddling operations, quietly funds a campaign group mailing out anti-lobbyist hit pieces, it must be political season.

At the center of the latest political antics is New San Diego, a political committee set up last summer by Gil Cabrera, lawyer and local Democratic politico anointed by Mayor Gloria as chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority board.

The new committee's mission, per its initial filing; "Supporting initiatives and candidates that will make San Diego and the region better for all of us.”

During the subsequent months of 2021, a host of big money influence peddlers and corporate special interests, including Sempra, chipped in a total of $105,850.

City Hall lobbyists giving to the committee included Craig Benedetto of California Strategies, who kicked in $1250 on December 7, 2021, per New San Diego's disclosure.

Benedetto's fellow California Strategies lobbyist Ben Haddad gave $1250 to on December 8, according to the filing.

Other New San Diego contributors included former lobbyist Rachel Laing, now chief spokesperson for Mayor Gloria, with $500 on December 10.

Miller Public Affairs , LCC, another influence peddling outfit came up with $5000, December 7.

Badiee Development Inc. gave $50,000, December 15, and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Fund contributed $5000 December 20. Mobile phone giant AT&T gave $5000 on November 29.

Sempra made its $2500 donation to New San Diego on December 20, per the corporation's Major Donor filing for the year 2021, dated January 22, 2022.

Curiously, New San Diego's disclosure filing covering 2021, dated January 25, 2022, does not show the Sempra donation, raising questions about the present status of the company's contribution.

In any case, New San Diego has lately launched a fusillade of hit pieces against ex-Assembly member Lori Saldana, who is running for San Diego city council in the city’s newly drawn Second District.

Viewed by many as a referendum on the performance of Saldana's fellow Democrat and opponent, council incumbent Jennifer Campbell, the race also includes Joel Day, a former city administrator under ex-GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The city's big labor-big money nexus, including Democratic mayor Todd Gloria favor the 76-year-old Campbell's reelection bid.

First and second finishers in June's primary election will move on to a November runoff, regardless of their respective percentages of the primary vote, and contributors New San Diego are looking to avoid untimely discussions of Campbell's pro-SDG&E record by knocking Saldana out of the Fall contest.

City campaign disclosure filings dated May 6 and May 9 show that New San Diego has thus far spent $34,129 on the anti-Saldana mailers.

"The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Lori Saldana took the most lobbyist gifts of any member of the State Assembly," says one of New San Diego's mailers, "second only to the Speaker."

An accompanying Sacramento Bee headline says, "Energy firms help pay for Calif. regulators far-flung trips," above a story that says Saldana went to Rio on a $12,500 junket paid for by the non-profit California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy,"which is funded by major oil and utility companies."

As it turns out, Sempra is a major backer of the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, and SDG&E Senior Vice President Daniel Skopec is on the foundation's board.

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Comments
1

Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds: Sempra money flows wherever its interests are best served. In this instance, Sempra, Mayor Gloria, the Mayor's flack Rachel Laing and a bunch of developers and "consultants" want to eclipse best-in-field Lori Saldana. But after the last four years in Council District 2, regular voters there deserve to have highly-qualified Lori Saldana represent them on City Council. They just need to turn out and vote.

June 2, 2022

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