default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Sponsors helped to fund S.J. lobby trip

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2007 10:00 pm

Last week, 60 leaders from San Joaquin County were in Washington, D.C. to lobby the federal government for money for local projects. Aside from the elected and government officials, the group also included private sponsors who had paid big bucks to underwrite the One Voice trip.

While sponsorship helps alleviate the burden on taxpayers, ethics experts argue that allowing private sponsors to fund and participate in government lobbying trips gives the impression of unfair access to elected officials.

"It looks too chummy," said Jack Marshall, president of Pro Ethics, a Washington-based ethics consulting firm. "It creates the appearance of distorted access and distorted privilege."

A total of 11 sponsors contributed $17,500 to help pay for the lobbying trip. Sponsors paid between $500 and $5,000 to offset the cost of airfare, meals and hotels for the delegates, who included mayors and council members from San Joaquin County cities.

The week-long trip, in its eighth year, sought money for 30 countywide infrastructure projects and has brought back $54 million for the county to date.

The total cost of the 2007 trip, which was organized by the San Joaquin Council of Governments, is still being calculated, according to SJCOG Senior Planner Susan Filios.

Past trips have averaged about $50,000, including sponsors' contributions and participants' registration fees, she said.

Sponsors' benefits included acknowledgment at organized events during the trip, and the opportunity to display promotional materials and advertisements in information packets, according to Filios.

• Richland Planned Communities
• Pacific Gas and Electric
• Granite Constriction Co.
• Teichert construction
• AKF Development LLC
• Engineering firm PB Americas
• Engineering consultants Kjeldsen, Sinnock and Neudeck Inc.
• Transportation consultant Fehr and Peers
• Development company Grupe Co.
• Law firm Neumiller and Beardslee
• Citigroup
Source: San Joaquin Council of Governments.

This year's sponsors were Richland Planned Communities, Pacific Gas and Electric, Granite Construction Co., Teichert Construction, AKF Development LLC, engineering firm PB Americas, engineering consultants Kjeldsen, Sinnock and Neudeck Inc., transportation consultant Fehr and Peers, development company Grupe Co., law firm Neumiller and Beardslee, and Citigroup.

Besides sponsorships, much of the trip costs were paid for out of city funds. Some elected officials say the sponsorships help reduce the burden on the taxpayer, even though the relationship it creates is ethically questionable.

"If it were a one-time thing, it would be a benefit to the citizens because the taxpayers aren't paying the whole cost," Lodi Vice Mayor and One Voice participant JoAnne Mounce said.

"If it creates a long term relationship, then it needs a second look. It depends on how far the relationship goes and what the expectations are."

Marshall said the appearance of a breech of ethics is reason enough to not allow companies to sponsor government lobbying trips.

"To the extent it causes a question of integrity in the government, that makes it a reason to prohibit it," he said. "It kind of flunks the comfort level test. Maybe it's completely innocent. But it's the kind of pay for play type of stuff that's questionable."

Contact reporter Matt Brown at mattb@lodinews.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • posted at 10:18 am on Fri, May 4, 2007.


    Does T&C know that Council Member Mounce is on one of these junkets?



Popular Stories



Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists