May 3, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 18

Assembly considers eliminating lobbyist

The Haines Borough Assembly members may eliminate or reduce spending on a Washington, D.C. lobbyist in the coming year.

For at least the past four years, the assembly has paid Brad Gilman of Robertson, Monagle and Eastaugh’s Washington office $50,000 per year for representing the borough and advocating federal legislation benefiting the municipality.

But with federal spending ratcheted down and much of the town’s capital spending coming from the Alaska Legislature, the money is not a good investment, assembly members said.

Member Jerry Lapp suggested “taking a year off” from paying a lobbyist, an idea Debra Schnabel supported. Mayor Stephanie Scott said, “We should at least renegotiate the contract, if not eliminate it all together.”

Besides tracking progress on federal legislation sought by the borough, Gilman has previously set up meetings with Alaska’s Congressional members and federal agencies in advance of annual lobbying trips by Haines leaders.

Members resistant to the idea said it was beneficial for the borough to have a representative in Washington. “It’s making a lot of assumptions to assume it’s useless to have (a lobbyist),” said member Steve Vick. “There’s a game down there and a lot of players. Do we want to pull our player out of the game?”

Lapp said lobbying money is not paying off. “There’s no money in Washington right now.” He was also critical of a report on Gilman’s activities for the borough that he characterized as padded.

“A lot of that list is irrelevant to what we’re paying him for. He’s just filling up paper, in my position,” Lapp said.

One option broached during the discussion was paying Gilman on an “a la carte” basis for lobbying for individual pieces of legislation.