The Constitution posits a barrier between church and state, but in California nothing can keep politicians and Sempra lobbyists apart, judging by the giant utility’s recent disclosure of its third quarter lobbying activities.
On July 23, for instance, Democratic assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Pico Rivera got a $139 meal from Sempra at L.A.’s Church & State bistro, where the cuisine is “traditional French Bistro fare, created using only seasonal produce of the highest quality,” according to the establishment’s website. “All of our products come from organic farms and have been compassionately raised without antibiotics or hormones.”
Her fellow Democrat Henry Perea was given a Dodgers ticket worth $103, as well as a $33.80 meal at Café Pinot in downtown L.A., with an “impressive metropolitan skyline view, a gorgeous garden setting, and floor to ceiling windows.”
Perea also chowed down on the utility’s tab to the tune of $109.57 at Palmieri Restaurant, which features “the best Italian cuisine in Brentwood,” according to its website. Jennifer Beall, staffer for Orange County Republican assemblyman Bill Brough, was more cowboy-minded, picking up a $125 ticket to the Rancho Mission Viejo rodeo on August 22.
Ex-SDG&E PR staffer Rachel Laing, a self-employed influence peddler who once worked as a media handler for Republican mayor Jerry Sanders, is taking cash from the taxpayers again. According to her third quarter lobbying report, the onetime Union-Tribune reporter’s Laing Strategic Communications took in $4500 from Civic San Diego, the city’s urban development arm, for “communications and stakeholder outreach services.” In August, she kicked in $700 to the mayoral re-election fund of the GOP’s Kevin Faulconer.
Lobbyist and ex-Democratic city councilman Tony Young, who is president of Faulconer’s One San Diego anti-poverty nonprofit, did well for himself this summer, according to his quarterly filing. Ygrene, a home solar-power financing outfit, paid Young’s company Civic Link Strategies $11,000 to get the city council to pass an ordinance “to include the city in a state-wide energy financing program.” He got $7000 from Zirx, an on-demand computerized car parking service. SDG&E forked over $15,000 for lobbying regarding a “climate action plan,” and the Otay Water District paid him $9000 to fight the city’s proposed rate hike for its recycled water.