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The city of San Diego’s Ethics Commission today reported that clients paid lobbyists $3.8 million in the first half of 2008 to influence municipal business. And, in the wake of tougher reporting requirements for lobbyists, the commission reported 495 registered lobbyists in the first half of the year, compared to 165 for all of 2007.

From a commission release:

Specifically, from January through June of this year, 68 lobbying firms reported earning a total of $3,800,751.76 in fees from their clients. In addition, 35 organization lobbyists (companies that employ in-house lobbyists) reported making a total of 1,520 lobbying contacts with high-level City Officials.

The commission also reported the top three most heavily lobbied projects:

  • The Otay Mesa Community Plan Update, in which lobbyists earned about $120,000. As my former colleague Evan McLaughlin reported last year, the plan update was crucial to a consortium of developers hoping to get the city to convert industrial land into the more valuable residential land.

The commission said that lobbying firms reported 31 contacts with public officials for the project.

  • General Plan Update, the blueprint for growth and development citywide. The commission said there were 56 lobbying contacts and lobbyists were paid $56,000.
  • Quarry Falls project, a 4,500-home development proposed for Mission Valley by Sudberry Properties. The commission reported 57 lobbying contacts and said lobbyists earned $31,000 on the project.

The new regulations that went into effect Jan. 1 required more entities to register as lobbyists and forces them to report the name and department of the official they lobby. The rules also forced lobbyists to disclose their campaign contributions and fundraising activities to allow the commission and public to track how much money lobbyists not only contribute but directly help raise on behalf of politicians.

Lobbying firms reported raising $192,000 for candidates in the first half of 2008, and lobbyists contributed another $53,000.

You can review the filings on the city’s website, though I must warn you it’s a bit complicated. Go to this page, and if you want to do a broad review of all lobbying forms, check the box that says “Search Lobbying Firms Only?” and click on the “Search” button. If you want to search specific firms, try the “Search” box. Let me know if you have any questions.

Update: The original version of this post incorrectly stated the number of registered lobbyists in 2007. I regret the error.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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