Conflicting interests

As first reported here in January 2008, Kimberly Hale works for the lobbying shop of Public Policy Strategies, owned by Tom Shepard, a key political advisor to San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders. At that time, the company’s clientele included San Diego State University, the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the San Diego Film Commission, San Diego Medical Services Enterprise, Redflex Traffic Systems, and Authorized City Towing, all of which had some kind of business pending with city hall, according to disclosure filings. Hale is married to Darren Pudgil, who then worked for county supervisor Ron Roberts; he’s since become PR aide to Sanders.

Last week, the Union-Tribune, which has taken a tough editorial line against organized labor, reported that the firm, and Hale in particular, are now working for the San Diego Police Officers Association, the city’s police union. The paper raised conflict-of-interest questions regarding the arrangement, mentioning that Shepard’s firm had also represented the City-owned convention center corporation, the nonprofit film commission, and “a desalination plant in Carlsbad” favored by Sanders.

But the current client list on file with the City goes further than that. Shepard’s outfit is still employed by San Diego State University, which has been trying to cut a deal with Sanders over development of City-owned Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego State also happens to be the putative home base of the new Watchdog Institute, which plans to do contract reporting for the U-T. … GOP establishment candidate Meg Whitman, the ex-eBay executive, continues to get sizable dollars from San Diego business insiders, including real estate mogul Malin Burnham ($5000), onetime University of California regent Peter Preuss ($25,900), and San Marcos building contractor Warner Lusardi ($25,000).

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