LOS ANGELES—Fleishman-Hillard, under attack by critics of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn because of its work for several city agencies, has announced that it will not seek to extend or renew its contracts with two major clients—the Los Angeles Departments of Water and Power and the Port of Los Angeles—when those contracts expire during the next 90 days.
Fleishman has come under fire because of campaign donations to the Mayor and other elected officials in L.A., and for pro bono work it has done on campaigns. Investigators recently served the agency with a subpoena relating to its work for the city. The firm insists there is nothing inappropriate about its relationship and says it is proud of the work it has done, but that the politicization of its work has made it difficult to focus on client service.
According to Richard Kline, regional president and general manager of the firm’s L.A. office, “We are in the business of client service. Unfortunately, our representation of the Department of Water and Power has become part of a larger public debate that has diverted attention from the department’s important work to the provider of its communication services. That does not serve our client’s best interests.
“Ideally, public attention would be on the department’s work, rather than on the provider of its communications services. As a result, we believe the best course for DWP and our firm is to end the relationship.”
The agency’s contract with LADWP expires June 30; the Port of Los Angeles contract expires July 10. In addition, the firm says it has notified Los Angeles World Airports that it will end its contract with that department in 30 days, on May 20. Fleishman has not worked for LAWA in more than two years. The contract was to expire on November 27.
“Although our representation of the Port and the Airport is not being debated today, we want to take this voluntary step so it does not become an issue for our clients. We believe we have accomplished much and performed properly in our work for these agencies,” Kline added.
“Our work for the LADWP began by helping it prepare for energy deregulation. Today, the challenges are more numerous, including encouraging the wise use of scarce water supplies, environmental threats, state and federal legislation that could have detrimental impacts on the LADWP and the city, as well as the issues of diversity and economic development.
“For the Port, our work has included helping promote initiatives to clean the air, including the AMP program to allow ships to use cleaner shore-side power. Although we have a contract with the airport, we have not done any work there for some time.
“We value the opportunities we had with these agencies to help them achieve their communications goals. We will work with each of them, as needed, to ensure an orderly transition.”