New CBJ lobbyist may have conflicted interests

Lobbyist Kevin Jardell, May 2013. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Jardell)

Kevin Jardell once lobbied against building a new state office building in Juneau. Now, he’s going to be representing Juneau in the state capitol building as the city and borough’s new lobbyist.

Kevin Jardell held high state positions in the Frank Murkowski administration before becoming a lobbyist at the end of 2006. He was deputy administration commissioner and then served as the governor’s communications director and legislative director.

Also on Jardell’s resume is almost five years as legislative aide for Anchorage Republican Representative Joe Green, a strong proponent of moving the legislative session out of Juneau.

Juneau Mayor Merrill Sanford voted to hire Jardell. He says Jardell’s work on the issue isn’t a concern, “If he felt that way back in the ’90s, he doesn’t feel that way anymore.”

The assembly voted 6 to 3 on the motion to hire Jardell as the new lobbyist, with members Karen Crane, Jesse Kiehl, and Loren Jones voting no.

As a lobbyist, Jardell made more than $380,000 plus expenses last year.

One of his eleven current clients is Exxon Mobil Corporation, which pays Jardell almost $12,000 a month.

Another client is Juneau1, the owner of Juneau’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development building, also known as the “Plywood Palace.”

Assembly members Kiehl and Jones say representing both Juneau1 and the CBJ is a potential conflict of interest.

“Lobbyists need to be able to represent all of their clients with equal vigor and equal integrity. And I think that one of this clients which owns the department of Labor building is too strong a conflict with the city support for a new office building that was proposed a couple years ago and hopefully will be in the works again, so I didn’t feel like that was a situation that would work,” says assembly member Jesse Kiehl.

Juneau representative Cathy Munoz was the prime sponsor of a bill in 2009 that would have built a new state office building in Juneau on Alaska Mental Health land.

“I would hope that Kevin would consider moving beyond representing Juneau1. Of course, I can’t – I don’t have a say, I don’t have any direct contact with him around those issues, but if he is truly going to advocate for the city of Juneau, I would hope that he would consider that, in terms of who his other clients are,” says Representative Munoz.

Mayor Sanford says a conflict of interest question was put before all five lobbyist finalists during interviews and they all answered the same way.

“They had to abide by the conflict of interest rules that were out there and they would make sure that if they had some issue that was a conflict between two of their clients they would talk to both of us and they wouldn’t handle the issue for one of them or the other,” explain Sanford.

Sanford says he doesn’t think Jardell has any current conflicts with the city and borough of Juneau.

Assembly member Mary Becker made the motion at Saturday’s special assembly meeting to contract with Jardell. She says she was impressed with his plans.

“He wants to build more of an assembly relationship in the Capitol building. I don’t think we’ve done a lot of that. We meet with the governor and we meet with our local, our three legislators but we don’t actually go into the finance committees with our lobbyist and talk so that was something that was appealing to me that I thought would be a real good idea,” says Becker.

Jardell’s proposed annual fee is $55,000. Sanford says that fits into the city’s current budget but the terms of the contract have yet to be determined.

Jardell currently serves on CBJ’s Docks and Harbor’s board.

Jardell has never lobbied for a city government before.


Original story, published September 23, 2013:

Kevin Jardell will be the new lobbyist for the city and borough of Juneau.

The assembly voted 6 to 3 on the motion with assembly members Crane, Kiehl, and Jones voting no.

The CBJ assembly conducted interviews with five lobbyist finalists on Saturday in executive session.

“The interviews went real well. We started a little bit after 2pm and interviewed all five on the short list. At the end we came out of executive session and Ms. Becker made a motion to contract with Kevin Jardell as our next lobbyist,” says Mayor Merrill Sanford.

Jardell’s current clients include Juneau1, the owners of Juneau’s Department of Labor building, also known as the “Plywood Palace.” Exxon Mobil Corporation pays Jardell almost$12,000 a month for his lobbying services. Jardell does not have any current municipal clients.

Prior to his work as a lobbyist, Jardell was a legislative aide for Anchorage Republican Representative Joe Green, served as Deputy Administration Commissioner for the state, and worked as a legislative director for Governor Murkowski’s office.

Locally, Jardell serves on CBJ’s Docks and Harbor’s board.

Jardell’s proposed annual fee is $55,000. Mayor Sanford says that fits into the city’s current budget but payment has not been determined yet.

Sanford says he is working with city manager Kim Kiefer to negotiate the terms of contract with Jardell. Sanford hopes it’ll be ready for the assembly in October.

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