As his boss twisted slowly in the winds of federal jurisprudence, a top employee of indicted Republican House member Duncan Hunter took off with his wife for a round of ethics training at a posh resort hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia. For two weekdays ending Friday, June 7, Hunter deputy chief of staff Reed Linsk and his spouse Abbey junketed for free to the lobbyist-backed, GOP-friendly Congressional Institute’s Legislative and Communications Directors Retreat at the four-star Omni Homestead tucked away in the Allegheny Mountains.
“A vacation at The Omni Homestead is distinguished by historic ambiance, rich traditions, and a seemingly endless array of indoor and outdoor activities including two championship golf courses, tennis, shooting club, horseback riding, hiking, fly fishing, archery, falconry, mountain biking, and carriage rides,” says Virginia’s website for tourists. When not partaking of the inn’s amenities, the itinerary shows that participants attended educational sessions including An Ethics Primer, Preventing Ethics Violations, as well as The Sausage Factory, the Legislative Process. “I attended all meetings included on the attached agenda, including policy and legislative briefings, “Linsk declared on his June 21 disclosure filing.
Oceanside city councilman Christopher Rodriquez has a conflict of interest and will have to sit out any votes regarding the city’s proposed short-term rental limits, says a June 7 letter to city attorney John Mullen from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. As the chief executive officer of Maximum Mortgage and Real Estate, Inc. Rodriquez “currently manages three Oceanside single-family homes registered with the City as short-term vacation rental properties.” The company “is paid twenty percent of gross revenues for its property management services and generates approximately $2,200 a month for its management of these three short-term vacation rentals,” notes the opinion. “Under the terms of the draft ordinance as recommended by the Planning Commission, no new short-term rentals will be allowed in single-family zones unless the owner resides in the unit while it is rented as a short-term rental. A prudent person would likely find that these changes will impact the value of Maximum because the ordinance would decrease the amount of competition in the field in which it is engaged, and decrease the need for the services that Maximum supplies, by limiting new short-term rentals in single-family zones.”
$308 million tab
A bevy of San Diego vendors, big and small, are profiting handsomely from federal contracts associated with the controversial job of policing the border with Mexico, and the biggest beneficiaries are some of the county’s most prolific political givers. Topping the list of local operations awarded lucrative contracts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is Leidos, Inc, once known as Science Applications International, with $154 million, almost half of the $308 million in CBP spending here since September 2014. The super-sized military contractor has been contracted to furnish the government with “irradiation apparatus manufacturing” and maintenance. The company’s Vista factory makes Non-Intrusive Inspection gamma imaging devices and X-ray equipment, per its website.
Second on the list of locals is Linden and J. Neal Blue’s General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., provider of border surveillance drones, with a haul of $92.1 million, about 30 percent of the total. In third place is Millennium Computer Products of San Marcos, whose website says it is an Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business, with $30.6 million, nearly ten percent. The San Diego data is part of a national compilation of border contracts posted online by the news site Sludge.
Making big government money on the border goes hand in hand with federal campaign giving, judging by the $955,950 spent during the 2016 election cycle by the Leidos, Inc. Political Action Committee, according to OpenSecrets.org. General Atomics PAC was not far behind, with $938,070.
Besides its work at the border, Leidos built the Sea Hunter, a San Diego-based robotic warship prototype. Last fall the trimaran drone made it all the way to Hawaii and back, though on the way to Pearl Harbor the ship had to be boarded three times by repair crews to keep it running.