Developers’ Insider, Rachel Laing – the Mayor’s Communications Director – Has Been Raising Lots of Money for Jen Campbell

by on June 3, 2022 · 2 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

From City of San Diego Mayor website.

By Geoff Page

The Rag has already revealed a connection between the mayor and his supporters and the hit piece mailers people are receiving in their mailboxes regularly.  A closer look at the mayor’s Communications Director, Rachael Laing, provides insight into the forces allied against Saldaña.

New San Diego PAC

Laing’s name first popped up on the list of contributors to the New San Diego PAC, the PAC that is sending out hit mailers against Saldaña.

As has been detailed here in The Rag, New San Diego was formed and is run by, Gil Cabrera, who is very close to Gloria. Close enough to get appointed chair of the Airport Authority by Gloria.

Cabrera is also listed as the agent for Laing’s ThreeSixty Public Strategies, Inc. corporate filing with the state. Clearly, there is an association between the two.

Laing’s ThreeSixty Public Strategies, Inc. corporation only existed for two years. The previous incarnation, Laing Strategic Communications dba ThreeSixty Public Strategies was started in 2014.

Laing’s January 5, 2022, “Statement of Economic Interests Cover Page,” Form 700, lists the following clients as “single sources of income of $10,000 or more.”

  • BayWa r.e. – The Jacumba Solar Farm developer
  • David Malmuth Development – Sports Area development proposal
  • San Diego Loyal SC
  • San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569
  • Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
  • NUWI 2 CMR LLC – Donated $10,000 to New San Diego – 12-10-21
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • San Diego Community Power
  • Tootris Inc.
  • San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness
  • Miller Public Affairs – Donated $5,000 to New San Diego – 12-7-21

Notice that two sources of critical quotations on the hit mailers against Saldaña are from Jared Quient, who works for Laing’s client BayWa r.e. and Gretchen Newsom, who works for Laing’s client IBEW Local 569. And, two of the clients donated to New San Diego in 2021, one of which, NUWI 2 CMR LLC, was the second highest donation for the year, Miller Public Affairs was the other client.

City Lobbyist Filings

Laing’s ThreeSixty Public Strategies, Inc. filing for the second quarter of 2021, April 1 to June 30, showed who Laing lobbied and for what. The filing showed Laing lobbied city council member Monica Steppe and three people from council member Campbell’s office for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership.

The filing also showed that Laing lobbied Campbell’s office for New Urban West, Inc., the Carmel Mountain Ranch developer with a major project coming before the city.

Laing Donations and Fundraisers in filings

During this same time period, Laing and her husband, Greg Block, showed the following donations for Campbell’s re-election and for Steppe’s election:

  • Laing – $650 to re-elect Campbell dated 6-30-21
  • Block – $500 for Campbell dated 6-30-21
  • Laing – $50 to Steppe dated 4-16-21.
  • Block – $650 to Steppe dated 6-26-21

The list of donations was then followed by information about fund-raising that Laing and her husband hosted in their home. The results:

  • Fundraiser Laing – 6-2-21 – Raised $3,125 to re-elect Campbell
  • Fundraiser Laing – 6-2-21 – Raised $7,949 for the Keep San Diego Healthy. Keep Dr. Jen Campbell No On the Recall.
  • Fundraiser Block – 6-2-21 – Raised $3,125 to re-elect Campbell
  • Fundraiser Block – 6-2-21 – Raised $7,949 for the Keep San Diego Healthy. Keep Dr. Jen Campbell Non On the Recall.
  • Fundraiser Laing – 6-26-21 – raised $9,300 for Steppe
  • Fundraiser Block – 6-26-21 – raised $9,300 for Steppe

All this fund-raising was in Laing’s home at the same time but the money is reported separately? Who is that fooling?

The next ThreeSixty filing was for the third quarter of 2021, July 1 to Sept 30. It showed that Laing again lobbied for New Urban West, Inc. This time Laing lobbied three people in Campbell’s office, Seamus Kennedy, Venus Molina, Campbell’s Chief of Staff, and Campbell herself.

It should be noted that Campbell was Council President at that time. Laing also lobbied Steppe and one of her staff for the development.

The September 14, 2021, city council vote on the Carmel Mountain Ranch development was 8-1 in favor. The lone dissenter was Marnie Von Wilpert, it was not Campbell or Steppe. Interestingly, ThreeSixty stated in the third quarter filing that it had ceased lobbying as of 9-30-21, two weeks after the vote.

Laing had contributed, or helped raise, a total of $23,298 for Campbell and $19,300 for Steppe only months before the council vote and then actively lobbied them both for a developer. At the very least, Campbell and Steppe should have abstained from that vote.

Laing appears to be a Democrat but her history in San Diego has not reflected that all too much.

She began working in the San Diego building industry at the San Diego Daily Transcript. She started as a copywriter and eventually became the managing editor.  The Daily Transcript was the premier construction industry publication in San Diego for many years. The building business is notoriously conservative.

After the Daily Transcript, Laing worked for the following conservative employers:

  • Union-Tribune
  • San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Sempra Energy
  • Deputy Press Secretary for Jerry Sanders
  • Tom Shepherd’s Public Policy Strategies Inc.

There is little doubt that Laing is sympathetic to the development industry and those who have been controlling San Diego politics for years. Another of Laing’s credentials reinforces that — Laing was a vice president of the San Diego YIMBY Democrats. The YIMBY goals align very nicely with the developer’s goals.

What all this shows is that the mayor’s communications director, has no qualms playing dirty politics — and neither does Todd. And, it further shows the “Democrats” in office now are as aligned with the development industry as have been all past city administrations.

Local politicians are never content to be local; it is just a training ground for higher and higher offices. To be a successful politician in this city, you can leap to the next rung — and it is best to get along with the development industry. That is where the money is. But, that only is necessary if there exists the drive for the next office in the politician.

Gloria has that drive and he wants to keep Campbell in the District 2 seat because she is a “yes-woman.” The mayor is intent on building a record for himself that will propel him on from our little burg and he needs council cooperation.

Lori Saldaña does not offer blind obedience to Gloria because she has no reason to. Campbell does, she needs his support to get re-elected.

Some San Diego “Democrats,” including those currently leading the city, appear to be emulating the low tactics that have become standard for one political party. If it is necessary to do things like this to be successful, what is the point.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mike June 4, 2022 at 8:20 am

People who contribute to civic culture and public wealth genuinely care if they are Democratic, Republican, or independent citizens and find it difficult to imagine that anyone might not think that adopting a political party and identifying oneself with a category of political ideology are meaningful and important public choices that entail coherent political action.

But, people who make their careers and seek personal enrichment by exploiting public resources and the earned wealth of taxpayers passed that milepost on the road to social nihilism a long, long way back. If, as Margaret Thatcher pleaded, “There is no such thing as ‘society,'” then there can be no social norms of law-abidingness, civility, or even politeness that serve as anything but an angle for anti-social con artists. Take Trump, please.

As San Diego’s population and opportunities for public exploitation shifted from Republican to Democratic we have seen several proud and extreme Republican political careerists repackage themselves as liberal Democrats–circus elephants turning handsprings, as FDR put it. We even have ambitious new, fresh-face pols with GOP genes and “life-long” Democratic branding.

But, in the lizard brain of the essentially and forever GOPers remains a right-wing reflex and outlook that is hardwired and persistent. For example, when running for office as a Democrat for the first time, former GOP Party Chair Nathan Fletcher told the BIA, “I never thought about public education until my kids went to public school.” Democrats are qualitatively and essentially different from people who think nothing matters until something matters to them personally. Democrats are also different from Republicans because they are inclusive, not exclusive. In this transition period where San Diego grows up from an R to a D city, Democrats should take care to be a little more perspicacious and discerning about shape-shifting careerists. Ambitious Democratic pols like Gloria who go after the GOP money by hooking up with GOP operatives like Liang may fail to resist, like Gloria, the MAGA-style political operations that come with them and, like Gloria, defy short-term gains with permanent damage to their credibility, viability, reputations, and career prospects. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late for staffing corrections and apology tours.


Frank Gormlie June 5, 2022 at 11:27 am

Very well written, Mike, and a incisiveness that can cut paper.


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