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Interest Conflict Cited Over Firm's Dual Work For Blackwater, County

A group opposed to a defense contractor's plans to build a center in East County to train military forces is objecting to the county's use of lobbyists that also work for the company. KPBS reporter Am

A group opposed to a defense contractor's plans to build a center in East County to train military forces is objecting to the county's use of lobbyists that also work for the company. KPBS reporter Amita Sharma has details.

Blackwater USA has hired Carpi & Clay to forge ties with local people to garner support for its proposal to build a training c38 in the backcountry town of Potrero. Ultimately, San Diego County supervisors get to decide whether to allow the Blackwater project.

Meanwhile, the county has paid Carpi & Clay and parent firm Nielsen Merksamer more than $2.5 million over the past seven years to lobby on its behalf in Sacramento.

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Blackwater project opponent Raymond Lutz says that work presents a conflict of interest.

<b> Lutz </b> : Maybe they're lobbying to get border protection for money. There are a lot of things they can be lobbying, both for the county and for Blackwater.

Nikki Clay of Carpi & Clay says her firm and Nielsen and Merksamer do separate work for the county. Requests for comment from the county were not answered.

Amita Sharma, KPBS News.