Schmoozing with Sanders

A big new raft of San Diego city lobbyist registrations are in, and not surprisingly many of the most prosperous influence peddlers also happen to be big financial backers of GOP Mayor Jerry Sanders’s re-election bid. Topping the list is the law firm of Cooley Godward Kronish; nine members of the firm gave a total of $2880 to Sanders on the same day, December 18 of last year. According to Cooley’s lobbying filing, the company’s clients include Doug Manchester’s Manchester Financial Group, developer of the controversial Navy Broadway hotel and retail project at the foot of Broadway; Aaron Feldman’s Sunroad Centrum Partners, the outfit connected with the Kearny Mesa office tower at the heart of the biggest scandal so far faced by the Sanders administration; and Zeps, LLC, which is working on a student housing complex on 55th Street near San Diego State University. Zeps is owned by Robert Zeps of Rancho Santa Fe; he’s the wealthy avowed atheist who last year sponsored a $200,000 seminar at La Jolla’s Salk Institute featuring some of the world’s most famous nonbelieving scientists, including English biologist Richard Dawkins. Cooley’s website boasts that it’s “a national law firm for the converging worlds of high technology, high finance and high-stakes litigation.” It has aggressively protected the interests of its local clients, suing the City of San Diego over its attempts to stop Sunroad’s over-height office tower and talking directly to city redevelopment officials in the case of Manchester’s efforts to build Navy Broadway. … One lobbyist who probably doesn’t have to bother to knock on the mayor’s office door has also filed under the city’s new disclosure requirements, which mandate that registrants reveal whether they’ve performed political assistance for the city’s elected officials; Tom Shepard, who is one of the mayor’s top strategists, listed himself as a principal of Public Policy Strategies and disclosed he had provided “campaign consulting services” to Sanders over the previous two years. Besides Sanders, his clients include the Barona Indian tribe and Authorized City Towing.

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