K&L Gates stopped its federal lobbying for Detroit in May after the city failed to pay almost $350,000 in invoices that date back to April 2009, an aide to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing told the city council Wednesday.
Kizzi Montgomery, Bing's government affairs director, said she became aware of the unpaid bills when she started her job in June and has worked with K&L Gates partner William Kirk to resolve the matter. She said the mayor's office plans to present council members with a $348,700 contract to pay off its debts to the firm. The contract would be through February 2012.
Kirk Lewis, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the city historically has been slow to compensate its lobbyists and must fix the payment process.
“Going forward, we won’t have this happen again,” Lewis said at the council hearing.
Council member Ken Cockrel Jr. said Detroit has “essentially been naked” in Washington without a lobbyist, creating an “extremely bad situation.”
“I think at a time like this given the current political climate in Washington, D.C., and given all the needs that this city has, for us to have been without a federal lobbyist for this amount of time is absolutely absurd,” Cockrel said.
Kirk didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
K&L Gates had advocated for Detroit in Washington since 2008, according to congressional records. In the most recent lobbying disclosure filing for the city, the firm said it lobbied Congress on appropriations issues during the reporting period that ran from April 1 to June 30.
Lewis said the mayor’s office is interviewing new federal lobbyists for the city. He said they are looking for lobbyists who have worked on grant issues and are with a firm that has a presence in Detroit and Washington.