Yesterday afternoon, a friend of mine sent me a link to a blog post on the website of the Washington Policy Center — a conservative think tank based in Seattle.
Seems they ran across a personal services contract between the UW and Robert Longman which they correctly pointed out was for “legislative drafting and fiscal analysis related to the 2008 request for state financial assistance to remodel Husky Stadium.” The post also correctly pointed out that the contact was extended until next June 30 and that Mr. Longman’s services are charged at $175 per hour. That’s where the accuracy ends and the spin begins.
Both the headline and the text of the post incorrectly infer that Mr. Longman is being paid through this contract to “lobby” the Husky Stadium issue. A more careful interpretation of the contract (and perhaps a phone call to me or interim athletic director Scott Woodward) would have revealed that Bob Longman was hired only to draft the bill which we introduced last session and to run the numbers of tax revenues from the hotel/motel, rental car and food and beverage taxes in King County which were being used to finance the stadium renovation.
You see, Bob Longman is recently retired from more than 25 years as a non-partisan attorney and revenue expert for the House of Representatives, where he worked for many years as the staff coordinator for the House Finance Committee. Anyone who has worked in Olympia for any length of time on tax and revenue issues is aware of Bob’s impeccable credentials and the fact that since his retirement, he has had other contracts with clients in the state to perform the very same services. Mr. Longman has never testified before a legislative committee on this issue (nor will he), he has never met personally with an elected official to ask for their support of funding for renovating the stadium (nor will he) and he is not involved in helping to write or even edit any publications that we use to help advocate for funding for the stadium (nor will he). He’s a legal and tax consultant on the stadium project — not a lobbyist.
So, while part of my job is to help advocate for funding for Husky Stadium, it’s not part of Mr. Longman’s job or his contract with the University. Unfortunately, information does tend to travel fast in the blogosphere, even when it isn’t completely accurate.