With mid-summer doldrums setting in, troopers of a lobbying corps that has long been a city hall fixture are replenishing their ranks by means of the ever-spinning door between the administration of mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The latest reshuffling of the mayor’s deck chairs occurred this week with the June 5 lobbyist de-registration of the chamber’s chief influence peddler and executive vice president Aimee Faucett, an old Faulconer city hall hand who is returning to the public payroll this month as fixer-in-chief for his honor’s troubled mayoral career.
Faulconer’s political fortunes have been reeling from mid-June's SoccerCity ballot fight fiasco and his subsequent vow to stay out of the California governor's race.
But while Faucett endeavors to right the mayor’s listing ship of state, who will take her place as a big-money chamber of commerce lobbyist?
As it happens, on June 16, one day after Faucett's departure from the chamber to assume the position of mayoral chief of staff was announced, the swinging door opened in the other direction with the registration of ex-Faulconer aide Jaymie Bradford as the chamber's newest lobbying emissary to the mayor and his top aides.
Until July of last year, Bradford was Faulconer's deputy chief of staff and policy chief, pulling down a cool $137,000 a year. Before that she worked for a raft of Republican officials including ex-city councilman Carl DeMaio and GOP ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, who currently runs the chamber of commerce.
Said a June 2016 news release announcing her new role as the chamber’s vice president of public policy: “Bradford’s background at City Hall is a perfect complement to the Chamber’s efforts as an advocate on critical business issues that support business growth and the creation of jobs.”
But as mandated by the city's so-called cooling off period, Bradford was required to wait twelve months before she could overtly lobby her former city colleagues, a limitation that had previously snared her chamber boss Sanders.
Ethics commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst summarized the ban in a May 28, 2013 letter to Sanders, telling him he would have to hold off on lobbying for 12 months following the end of his mayoral term in December 3, 2012.
Fulhorst's guidance had been solicited by the former mayor following an April 2013 report that as chamber head he accompanied then-mayor Bob Filner on an April, 2013 trip to Mexico City, where the pair privately discussed pending city issues.
“During your one-year post-employment period (which commences on the date you left office as Mayor), the City’s post-employment lobbying provisions preclude you from engaging in any direct communications with a City Official on behalf of the Chamber for the purpose of influencing a municipal decision,” wrote Fulhorst.
Immediately prior to Faucett's latest return to city hall - where she previously labored for then-councilman Faulconer and his mentor ex-mayor Sanders - she was tasked by the chamber with convincing Faulconer and top lieutenants to "allocate city funding…in allowing for the San Diego Regional Chamber Foundation to execute the Regional Jobs Strategy," per a 2016 disclosure filing.
Besides pressing the mayor for the business group's bread-and-butter money, Faucett pushed a list of other chamber desires, including a long-sought trans-border railroad project criticized in some circles as a government-funded boondoggle; opposing minimum wage hikes; and protecting shipyards against Barrio Logan residents and planners.
Faucett is replacing former mayoral chief of staff Stephen Puetz, a longtime Faulconer political operative who is leaving the city in the wake of reports he had gotten married at the posh bayfront mansion of SoccerCity booster and Faulconer campaign benefactor Morgan Dene Oliver.
Puetz's departure also came shortly after it was reported here in May that while a member of Faulconer's mayoral staff last year he had received between $1000 to $10,000 in consulting fees from the chamber of commerce, according to his financial disclosure report for 2016.