Just what the crowded halls of Georgia’s State Capitol needs: More lobbyists.
Following the lead of generations of former state legislators, Sen. Seth Harp has joined forces with Rob Poydasheff, to form Harp Poydasheff, a governmental affairs firm that hopes to represent clients in Atlanta and Washington.
“I have a lot of knowledge and a Blackberry full of contacts,” Harp says. “Why not put them to good use and help people?”
To the surprise of members of Columbus Council, City Manager Isaiah Hugley recently passed along a proposal from the new lobbying firm. It talks about Harp Poydasheff’s 35 years of combined government experience and about challenges presented by the influx of population from Fort Knox as a result of BRAC.
“We firmly believe that Columbus should not face its many challenges alone. We propose to be the glue that brings all interested parties together -- to work together and accomplish great things for the city and its people,” according to the brochure.
Harp, recently elected chairman of the Muscogee Republican Party, served 10 years in the Senate. He left office in 2010 to run for state insurance commissioner, finishing a disappointing sixth in a nine-candidate primary race.
An assistant staff judge advocate in the Marine Corps, Harp is a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He also served on the Muscogee County School Board.
The firm includes:
Rob Poydasheff is the son of former Mayor Bob Poydasheff. He worked at Synovus as a commercial lender after serving as a JAG Officer in the Army. He is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of Georgia School of Law.
Walter Johnson Trawick Jr. worked with Harp for six years in the Senate. He is a graduate of Columbus State University and a veteran of many local political campaigns.
John Stacy, like Harp, is a Marine. He brings experience at the federal level having worked as an aide to the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, Sen. Zell Miller and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.
Around the capitol, lobbyists chased Harp. Now he wants to chase members of the Senate and House. Despite the big-spending reputation enjoyed by lobbyists, Harp says they often serve a good purpose.
“Everybody tends to be critical, but in a citizen legislature, a lobbyist can present facts that folks in the General Assembly might not receive otherwise,” Harp says. “At the federal level, a lobbyist can help sort out the facts of an issue.”
Harp Poydasheff has circulated proposals to potential clients in the area, including the Columbus Consolidated Government. The firm wants the city to pay an annual fee of $20,000.
Columbus does Columbus does face challenges. But is spending $20,000 a year for a lobbyist going to solve them?
The government already pours money into the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, which employs a governmental affairs staff. Why not let the chamber be the link between the local government and the state? As for communication, there is good email and phone service between Columbus and Atlanta -- if used frequently and properly.
Meanwhile, save the $20,000.