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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Help wanted: DC lobbyist for LA's 112 year old water agency

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An advertisement recently appeared in The Hill newspaper, a Washington political daily, next to a blurb for a kitchen design company and a resume writing service:

REQUEST FOR A PROPOSAL

Department of Water and Power of the City of Los Angeles invites proposals from experienced and qualified firms interested in providing Federal Legislative Consulting Services.

In other words, the DWP is shopping for a lobbyist.

The ad doesn't specify how much the job pays, but looking at federal filings from this year and last, individual lobbying agencies can expect to make about $10,000 a month. Last year, the DWP spent more than half a million dollars on DC lobbying with three agencies:

  • Dentons specializes in energy issues. It's the largest recipient of lobbying dollars from the DWP: $330,000 so far over the past 18 months. 
  • The Furman Group represents the DWP on water policy: They got $290,000.
  • Van Ness Feldman, the third lobbying group, says it represents clients in energy, environment, land use, and real estate: The DWP paid it $150,000.

The lobbyists don't just work on legislation. The DWP describes itself as a highly regulated agency and its DC representatives also meet with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.

The DWP calls the ad a routine solicitation, part of the normal routine when the current contracts expire in November. Neither the agency nor the trio of current lobbying firms would say whether they were re-applying for the job. The DWP says it's open to "all interested and qualified parties."

The budget for DC lobbying will be about the same next year as it has been in the past: between $475,000 and $550,000 per year. To put that in perspective, the Metropolitan Water District spent $1.3 million over that same 18 month period. It hired one outside firm, but reports most of the lobbying was done by the agency itself. The Westlands Water District in California's Central Valley - the largest agricultural water district in the country - spent $970,000. 

The DWP was criticized last year for not putting its Sacramento lobbying arm out for competitive bids. City Controller Wendy Greuel reported the agency awarded $480,000 for four no-bid contracts, two of them to Mercury Public Affairs, which counts former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez as one of the company's partners. The DWP said its rules don't require public debate or a Board of Commissioners vote because the agreements were under the $150,000 threshold. Because the DC contracts are over that amount, they will be debated and voted upon.

In case you're interested in applying for the lobbying position yourself, better hurry up: the deadline for submitting a bid is August 5th.

Lobbying expenditure filings:

Los Angeles DWP disclosure of lobbying expenditures

Metropolitan Water District disclosure of lobbying expenditures

 

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