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Lawyer Cory Briggs Announces Run For San Diego City Attorney

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Speaker 1: 00:00 You may recognize the name Corey Briggs. The San Diego Turny has made headlines for filing lawsuits against downtown developers and municipalities, including San Diego. Now he wants to be San Diego's next city attorney. He joined KPBS evening edition Anchor Ebony Monet to talk about his campaign to replace Mara Elliott. Here's that interview. Welcome. Hi. Thanks for having me. So why do you want to be San Diego's next city attorney?

Speaker 2: 00:28 The city attorney's office has been turned into a politic shop. We need to get it back to running as a straight up objective law firm that provides a support role to the mayor and the city council. Right now, the city attorney's office practices in politics disguised as lawyering. That's not good for taxpayers. It's not good for voters. It's not good for accomplishing what the mayor and the city council set out to accomplish for the people who get them elected into office. I want to fix that. I want to take the office back to being just a straight up regular law firm that gives the best possible advice to the mayor and the city council so that they can go out and do what they got elected to do.

Speaker 1: 01:03 After being a frequent challenger of the, the city of San Diego, do you feel that you could offer politics free advice?

Speaker 2: 01:11 Yeah. Look, the reason that my clients have hired me to uh, to sue the city on occasion to sue other government agencies is because politics is what's driving these decisions as opposed to being supported based on good legal advice. Right. When you have the city attorney influencing the decisions because he or she is politically motivated, the mayor and the city council ended up making bad decisions because they're getting political advice from lawyers. What we need are the lawyers to be given good legal advice so that the politicians are not getting the tax payers and hot water in the first place. There's a right way and a wrong way to do things and our current city attorney frequently tells the city council and the mayor how to do it incorrectly because it's politics driven. Once we get back to making decisions based on the law, just a straight up reading, giving straight legal advice, they can make the decisions.

Speaker 1: 02:01 Do you think that that could possibly be a black eye during this campaign? How would you explain that to two potential voters?

Speaker 2: 02:09 The proof is in the pudding. My client's sue, they win cases. The judges look at it. The judges conclude that they did the right thing, that they provided a public service and the judge approves the attorney's fees. That's all part of the way the system works. Think about it from the other side. When you have a politically motivated city attorney's office, who sues the voters to block them from voting on something as important as the future of mission valley to expand this very university. By the way, when that happens and it cost the taxpayers $600,000 who do they go to to get that money back? Nobody. The city attorney's office gets to shrug its soldiers and say, too bad. So sad. That's unacceptable. I don't have that luxury in private practice. And I bring that ethic of putting the client to the city attorney's office.

Speaker 2: 03:01 And of course, to be fair, we will reach out to the city attorney's office and ask our Elliott for a response. So you speak a lot about transparency in government. Can you tell us about the San Diego ins for open government and in your role with that organization? Sure. I've been an attorney since the beginning. It's followed a lot of lawsuits against government agencies to make sure that the public gets all of the information to which it's entitled frequently, as I'm sure you know, the government stonewalls and doesn't like to turn over documents. And so we've had to file a number of lawsuits to make sure that those documents were released. And we should disclose that your organization has found a lawsuit against our media partner I new source and KPBS, um, via San Diego State University, which holds our license. The lawsuit came after a series of investigative reports that outlined your ties to nonprofits.

Speaker 2: 03:55 What would you say to critics who believe your intention is to benefit financially from these nonprofits by suing and then settling? Well, so two things. Number one, you should make sure your audience also knows that I wasn't involved in that lawsuit. I have nothing to do with it, not involved. That should be reported as well, so I can't comment on it. Just not a participant. Participant in it. The question about whether I benefit from filing lawsuits, I'm a lawyer, I represent clients. I get paid for doing a good job for them. If I'm in the city attorney's office, I'm going to represent the city acting through the mayor and the city council with the same vigor, with the same integrity, with the same, uh, with the same experience and education that I bring to my private clients. Here's the difference between private and public lawyers.

Speaker 2: 04:42 Private lawyers always have to think about what happens if they screw up because if they screw up, two things could arise. Number one, the client could lose a lot of money. And number two, the lawyer could get sued for malpractice. Public attorneys don't take those things into account because public attorneys like city attorney, Mark Elliot, when they screw up, they just shrug their shoulders and say, well, the tax payers will pick up the tab and they can't be sued for malpractice. So they have a very cavalier attitude toward protecting the public. I'm going to take my experience in private practice and bring it to the city where the taxpayers and the voters need to be put first to make sure that they're protected so that there's no politically motivated advice influencing what the mayor and the city council do. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 05:26 That was Corey Briggs, a San Diego attorney who's challenging Mara Elliot in the race for city attorney. He spoke with KPBS evening edition Anchor Ebony Monet KPBS reached out to city attorney Mora Elliot's campaign for comment and the Co Mara Elliot's campaign consultant responded by saying city attorney Mara Elliott is often running for reelection with a stellar record of accomplishment, protecting San Diego. We welcome any and all opponents to the race. The consultant continued saying, Briggs is quote, a millionaire shopping around for political office, and he's going to find out that winning the people's trust is a lot more difficult than suing them unquote.

Speaker 3: 06:09 [inaudible].

Advocate and lawyer Cory Briggs talks about his candidacy for San Diego City Attorney.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.