Thursday, November 29, 2012

Watchdog Questions Bosma's Hiring Of Lobbyist As Parliamentarian

House Speaker Brian Bosma has hired a former state representative and lobbyist with the law firm of Krieg DeVault as the House's parliamentarian for the upcoming session. That decision has drawn criticism from Julia Vaughn, a lobbyist for Common Cause, a watchdog organization.  “So he’s going to have one leg in the lobbying world and the other leg in the behind-the-scenes-administration of the House of Representatives,” says Vaughn. “There’s an old saying that you can’t serve two masters.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test and I’m really surprised the Speaker has stepped right into this.” According to WISH-TV's Jim Shella, Whetstone filed paperwork terminating his registered lobbyist status before accepting the new post.

What's particularly unusual about Whetstone's hiring is that he's not an attorney. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Ball State, and while he works for a law firm, his role at the firm has been limited to a non-attorney role as a lobbyist. Historically, both the Senate and the House have hired outside attorneys to serve as parliamentarian for the respective chambers. Typically, the attorney hired for this role is not affiliated with a law firm that also lobbies the legislature. In the past, Bosma hired an attorney from his own law firm to serve in this role, a move criticized as self-serving by some at the time. In a statement issued to WISH-TV, Bosma defended the hiring of Whetstone. Whetstone understands the House rules and how to execute them, which is the sole role of the Parliamentarian. He understands the House and it’s floor procedures as well as anyone, and is the right selection for the job.”


Paul K. Ogden said...

The Shella story suggested he was going to continue lobbying while being parliamentarian. But I don't think that's true, is it?

Gary R. Welsh said...

No, the story says Whetstone filed paperwork with the ILRC to indicate he wouldn't be lobbying during the session.