Monday, July 30, 2012

Talking Down Jefferson

Forty-one paragraphs into Colin Woodard's 2154-word profile of Sen. Collins' fiance Tom Daffron, the Chief Operating Officer at Jefferson Consulting Group has this to say about his company:

"We do very little lobbying at Jefferson as a general rule, and I don't do any and haven't for at least five years," he adds. "I've never lobbied Susan and would not because I think it would be inappropriate."
That all seems to be true as far as it goes--Jefferson did only $40,000 in lobbying in 2011, down from almost $1 million in 2007--but it obscures a larger point.

Jefferson's two other practice areas are government consulting (helping "federal agencies across the government" develop procurement programs, etc.) and federal business development, which the company describes thus:

Drawing on decades of experience and deep relationships with key decision makers across civilian and defense agencies, Jefferson matches client capabilities with government needs to create effective and innovative solutions for the government and sustainable revenue for our clients.
(Jefferson's client list includes the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the General Services Administration and the Internal Revenue Service among others.)

In short, Daffron runs a company that helps people figure out how to sell things to the federal government and helps the government figure out what to buy and how.

Did I mention that his future wife is the ranking member and past (future?) chairwoman of the committee charged with oversight of "the management, efficiency, effectiveness and economy of all agencies and departments of the Federal government"?

It may not have anything to do with lobbying, but that's one doozy of a conflict.

I'm not optimistic that we'll hear from Collins or Daffron about how they intend to manage that conflict. Nor do I think we're likely to learn what steps, if any, they'll take to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Which is not to say that such a conflict is insurmountable--or that it's unique.

But it would be a mistake to simply pretend that it doesn't exist.

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