Sunday, September 18, 2011

Brewer turns the revolving door between lobbying firms and her staff into an open door

The Washington Post published a story this past week detailing a study that documents the revolving door between Capitol Hill staff rosters and lobbying firm staff rosters.  According to the study, nearly 5400 Congressional staffers have moved to lobbying firms in the last decade.

I thought about commenting about the study, and perhaps I'm getting a little too jaded after doing this for more than five years, but I figured this was basically just adding numbers to something most observers already knew.

D.C.'s political subculture can be somewhat insular, even incestuous, with the denizens of that subculture often not leaving the city when political winds change (as they did in 2006 and 2010).  They just change job titles.

Turns out that the same thing is true in Arizona, as a couple of press releases from Jan Brewer this week illustrate.

First, she appointed one Jay Heiler to the Arizona Board of Regents.

From the press release (emphasis mine) -
Mr. Heiler has been a high-profile leader in Arizona public policy for more than two decades. He served in a series of leadership roles, including Chief of Staff, under former Governor Fife Symington. Earlier, Mr.Heiler was Assistant Attorney General under Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin. Since leaving public service in 1997, Mr. Heiler has worked as a political consultant in public affairs and strategic communications. His clients have included corporate, government and non-profit interests.
Heiler is known for his radical homophobia and bigoted spoutings, but this post isn't about that (I'll leave that to folks who can write more eloquently on those topics than me).

Nope.  It's about Heiler being an active lobbyist.

From the AZ Secretary of State's website -

Brewer followed up the appointment of one lobbyist with an announcement of changes in her senior staff.

From that press release -
Scott Smith, Director of the Arizona Department of Administration, has been named Deputy Chief of Staff. The announcement marks a return to the Governor‟s Office for Mr. Smith, who previously served Governor Brewer as Director of Legislative Affairs and Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs. In his new role, Mr. Smith – along with Chief of Staff Eileen Klein – will oversee day-to-day operations of the Governor‟s Office and executive agencies. He will maintain his current duties managing ADOA.

Page Gonzales has been named Director of Policy for the Governor‟s Office. Ms. Gonzales, who currently serves as Deputy Policy Director, will take the place of Richard Bark. Mr. Bark, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, has announced his resignation after nearly three years of loyal service to Governor Brewer. Mr. Bark will be joining Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold as Director of Government Relations and Environmental Counsel. His resignation is effective October 3, 2011.

Also departing the Governor‟s Office is Brian McNeil, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. Mr. McNeil has been a trusted advisor to Governor Brewer since she took office, and played a critical role in building the administration. He will be joining Public Policy Partners. Mr. McNeil‟s resignation is effective September 27, 2011.
For those who aren't political geeks, a job title like "Director of Government Relations" is actually a euphemism for "Chief Lobbyist."
Public Policy Partners is one of the most active lobbying firms in Arizona.
BTW, I may be getting more cynical than ever, but...
...Last month, Jan Brewer took a closed-door meeting with a mining company that is looking to mine copper in the Florence area by pumping acid into the groundwater there.  The company, Curis Resources, is relatively small by industry standards, and is ripe for a takeover, according to some industry analysts.
...This month, one of her senior staffers moves to a copper mining conglomerate. 
And none of this even begins to cover the influence of uber-lobbyist Chuck Coughlin on the Brewer Administration.

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