Indicted lobbyist keeps clients, political access

Cortes faces five years in prison if convicted

SAN DIEGO - Team 10 has learned that indicted San Diego lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes has re-registered to lobby in San Diego.

Cortes has pled not guilty to federal charges claiming he assisted in funneling $500,000 in illegal campaign contributions to San Diego politicians during the 2012 election cycle. Cortes is out of custody on $100,000 bond.  His sister put up her home as collateral to ensure his future appearance in federal court.

City records show Cortes' company, Cortes Communications, LLC, lobbying on behalf of American Towing, Inc., San Diego Hospitality & Entertainment Coalition and United Association of Food Trucks of San Diego California.

LINKS: List of lobbyists in San Diego | List of lobbyists and their clients

"The right to petition your government is one of those rights that go along with a whole host of political activities like making campaign contributions," said San Diego Ethics Commission Executive Director Stacey Fulhorst.

San Diego lobbying laws only ensure transparency. They are not concerned with approving or accrediting lobbyists.

Fulhorst said an indictment or even a conviction does not prevent someone from being a registered San Diego lobbyist.

Cortes does not have to report which politicians he is meeting with until April 30, which is the quarterly reporting deadline.

Prior to his indictment, Cortes lunched with former San Diego mayor Bob Filner at the Westgate Hotel, according to Filner's calendar. A note in the calendar says, “no staff,” indicating the meeting was private.

Filner is one of the politicians alleged to have received support from the illegal campaign money.

City records also show Cortes met with the two men who ran to replace Filner. Since 2012, Cortes has met once with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and 10 times with Councilman David Alvarez. Neither Alvarez nor Faulconer are implicated as receiving or benefiting from illegal campaign contributions.

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