New York Daily News article yesterday
interesting conflict situation. At least one lobbying
firm has worn two hats in its relationship with the speaker of the
New York City council. One hat was that of a campaign and appointments consultant,
the other was that of a contract lobbyist for multiple clients. See
Crain's New York Insider blog post from January
for more about
such relationships with the speaker.
This is legal, as the speaker's spokesperson insists, but there is still a serious conflict situation that
needs to be handled responsibly. As Susan Lerner, head of
New York Common Cause, is quoted as saying, “The merger between
campaign consultant and lobbyist by the same entity raises
significant problems and concerns.” In other words, the problem lies
in having one firm wearing multiple hats in its relationship with a high-level official.
What specific problems does wearing these two hats cause? One,
consulting creates a special relationship that goes beyond
the usual meals and meetings with lobbyists. A special relationship
leads to special access and favoritism, or the appearance of these.
Lobbying is all about relationships, and lobbyists are obligated to
do anything they can to further their relationships, especially with
someone as important as the head of a major city's council.