The revolving door turns
Another staffer for mayor Kevin Faulconer has quit the city to join the ever-growing special interest circuit of government persuaders. Felipe Monroig, who was the Republican mayor’s deputy chief of staff for strategic initiatives, departed city hall over the summer to become senior director of West Region government affairs for cable giant Charter Communications. Monroig, who got total pay and benefits of $168,900 for his Faulconer duties in 2018, was president of San Diego Taxpayers Association, a business lobbying group, before signing on with the Republican mayor back in March 2014.
Meanwhile, Phil Rath, who runs the lobbying firm of PPR Solutions, Inc., has recently become a consultant to Faulconer’s chief operating officer Kris Michell, according to a statement of economic interests he filed with the city clerk’s office on October 11. Last year the influence peddler was hit with a total of $16,000 in fines by the city’s ethics commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to disclose cash he’d gotten from client Affirmed Housing while on the board of Civic San Diego, the city’s former redevelopment arm.
Rath “participated in and ultimately voted twice on a matter that directly involved a source of income,” the FPPC said in a November 2018 stipulation. “These violations are extremely egregious because they undermine public confidence in the integrity of the City’s decision-making process,” ethics commission chair Deborah Cochran said in an August 9, 2018 news release regarding Rath, a former aide to GOP mayor Jerry Sanders.
San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, president pro tem of the California State Senate, continues to nail down major money from the state’s troubled marijuana industry. Latest to ante up is Irvine-based Ghost Management Group, with $10,000 on November 19, the same day the California Building Industry Association kicked in the same to California Works! The Senator Toni Atkins Ballot Measure Committee.
On October 16, a PAC run by the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems came up with $5000, and Fresenius Medical Care gave the Atkins committee $15,000 on October 7. In March, the Germany-based dialysis giant paid $84.7 million to settle charges by the U.S. Justice Department that it bribed Angola and Saudi Arabia government officials from 2007 through 2016. At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered the company to fork over $147 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.
“Fresenius doled out millions of dollars in bribes across the globe to gain an advantage in the medical services industry,” Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division told Reuters. During the first half of this year the company dumped about $2.5 million into California lobbying and campaign contributions to influence pending legislation, according to an August 25 Los Angeles Times report.
Bucking Bill Brough
Third term Republican Assemblyman Bill Brough of San Juan Capistrano, caught up in an Orange County sexual harassment scandal, has received some love from San Diego-based Sempra Energy. The public utilities giant forked over $110 on August 24 so he could turn up at the RMV Rodeo at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. “The invitational event has been a staple for traditional competitive horse and bull riding since its inception in 2000,” notes the Orange County Register, “and, with a total purse of $294,000, the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo makes its claim as America’s Richest Two-Day Rodeo.”
As for Brough, in September the Orange County Republican Party called for him to abandon his reelection campaign due the harassment charges, reports the L.A. Times. Following the vote, his accusers, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Jennifer Rodriguez, and Heather Baez, issued a statement saying “Bill Brough’s sexual misconduct and predatorial behavior has already caused each of us great pain and anxiety. As if that was not enough, now he is using his position of power to shame and intimidate us. Unfortunately for Bill, his actions have given us more resolve than ever to stand up against his bullying tactics and tell people the truth about his behavior. We are not scared of him and will not be silenced.”
The San Diego Maritime Museum has laid out some cool lobbying cash to help pass Senate Bill 367, a coastal conservancy funding measure benefiting the museum introduced by state Senator and county supervisorial candidate Ben Hueso. “SB 367 enhances @ca_coastal’s authority to fund educational projects aimed at protecting our state’s coastal resources & improving public access across #California. Thank you to @sdmaritime for sponsoring this important legislation!” wrote Hueso in an October 16 tweet. Records show that the non-profit museum paid a total of $22,500 to Reeb Government Relations of Sacramento to push the bill through the legislature.