Sometimes when you’re researching a story, you see a little nugget that you originally don’t pay much attention to, but when you take a closer look, you realize there is more to it than meets the eye. So it was while I was digging through the Austin Campaign Finance reports, looking for interesting contributions. Repeatedly, the disclosures showed the same law firm with attorneys (and their spouses) contributing to members of the Austin City Council. One small donation was from Richard Suttle, lobbyist for MLS and PSV. I decided to check out his registration paperwork (all lobbyists are required to register locally) and found some interesting things (h/t Massive Report, who put me on the trail).
First, MLS has hired a huge number of lobbyists in their attempt to get this project over the finish line.
Interestingly, one of the lobbyists had been associated with this case since May 2017, though she left about a month after the MLS2ATX issue blew up. All of these lobbyists list Armburst & Brown as their lobbying headquarters, so to speak. That’s the firm where Mr. Suttle works; many of whose attorneys have contributed to local council-members (a story for, well, later).
As for the lobbyists, many of them have been handsomely paid. Let’s go down the list:
Lynn Carley: Wasn’t there for very long, and as such, didn’t report a large amount of compensation.
Eric DeYoung: Like Ms. Carley, wasn’t there for very long. Edit: Looks like he was there in 2017, but didn’t do anything. Or, at least didn’t receive compensation.
Amanda Morrow: Now we’re getting into some interesting stuff. Ms. Morrow has been lobbying since the start of the year, and has received significant compensation in the first two quarters of this year.
So, that’s up to nearly $35,000 in compensation for two quarters of lobbying.
Melissa Neslund: Interesting here, as she reported no income for her lobbying work, though she was the first one to be lobbying back in May, 2017.
Julienne Nickells: Like Ms. Morrow, she’s been lobbying since the start of the year.
Once again, up to nearly $35,000 in compensation for two quarters of lobbying.
Amanda Surman: Ms. Surman only joined up in late April, but has already racked up a decent chunk in compensation; at least $10,000 and up to nearly $25,000.
Richard Suttle: Ah, the head lobbyist behind this whole thing. He’s been in since January officially, though he’s also contributed a nominal amount to Mayor Alder’s campaign. Edit: Actually Mr. Suttle has been lobbying since 2017.
Like some of the other who have been lobbying from the beginning of this thing, compensation is up to $35,000.
To be fair, it’s unlikely the lobbyists have reached those maximum numbers, but as they didn’t list exact amounts (like they could have), we are left to speculate on the ranges. The next reports will be due in October, and you can be sure those numbers will increase as they continue to ramp up to try to get an agreement with the Austin City Council.