OCTOBER 19, 2005
San Diego’s Union-Tribune has a new piece up on the matter of lobbyists and the troubling amount of influence they have on City Hall. It is the most recent article in a series examining San Diego’s finances and decision making.
The article first describes a real scenario where a living-wage ordinance is up for a vote. In the two years leading up to the vote, two men, Eugene Mitchell and Donald Cohen, made many trips to meet with San Diego City Council members and their respective chiefs of staff. Mitchell was opposed to the ordinance and had 64 meetings with City Council members. Cohen was for the ordinance and had 38 meetings. Neither of the men were registered as lobbyists.
With further investigation of the records, “The San Diego Union-Tribune found that fewer than half of the 25 people whose names appear most frequently ? besides city employees ? are registered lobbyists.”
What is clear about lobbying laws in San Diego is that they are not clear. The term “lobbyist” is not well-defined. Lobbyists who are registered are not required to say whom they visit and are not required to report campaign donations.
Current Council members have not suggested any changes for reform since two former Council members were convicted last July on multiple counts of extortion, wire-fraud conspiracy and wire fraud.
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