After 14 years of using a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, the Lafayette Regional Airport Commission has signed up a home-grown consulting firm to represent the airport’s interests at the federal level.
The Picard Group, a Lafayette company that has long represented the airport in local and state government matters, will have federal lobbying responsibility by July 1. In February, the firm hired former U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander as a director in the Picard Group’s office in Washington. Alexander’s government experience includes 15 years as a state legislator and 10½ years as a congressman from northeast Louisiana.
On Wednesday, airport commissioners approved employing The Picard Group in place of the airport’s longtime lobbying firm, Adams and Reese, which has offices and attorneys across the South and in Washington.
B. Jeffery Brooks, an attorney and Adams and Reese partner, said in letter dated June 8 that the firm was pulling out of the competition to represent the Lafayette airport.
Brooks says in the letter that Adams and Reese had represented the airport for over 14 years and, in those years, had assisted in obtaining more than $40 million in federal funds for airport projects.
For years, Adams and Reese was the airport’s lobbying firm and consultant in federal matters, while The Picard Group handled those duties at the local and state level.
For its services, Adams and Reese was paid about $7,000 a month, while The Picard Group was paid about $7,500 a month. The Picard Group will now receive a monthly check for $14,500.
The competition over which firm would represent the airport in Washington started late last year, when commissioners decided to not automatically renew Adams and Reese’s contract, Tyron Picard, principal at The Picard Group, said in an email Thursday. Picard said commissioners wanted to field proposals from other firms with lobbying activities in Washington.
In November, Adams and Reese started working on a month-to-month basis and on June 30 will wrap up its work for the airport.
Picard said his firm will officially start July 1, “but we are already doing much of the prep work in DC.”
“They (The Picard Group) have some of the biggest companies and municipalities around that they represent,” Airport Commission Chairman Matt Cruse said Thursday. “They do great work. They’re a superstar.”
Among the companies The Picard Group represents are Acadian Companies, Winrock International and Anadarko.
Cruse said the commission wanted a local presence for its Washington interests.
“It really wasn’t a matter of Adams and Reese dropping the ball; it was more that we felt more comfortable with a local group, one we saw and could talk to on a regular basis,” he said.
The airport is in the beginning stages of constructing a new $90 million passenger terminal that will be paid for partly with federal money. On Wednesday, the commission authorized airport Director Steven Picou to send out requests for qualifications to architectural firms for the project.
Alexander is a Washington D.C. insider, having served on numerous committees, including the House Appropriations Committee, during his years as congressman from 2003 to 2013.
In September 2013, Alexander resigned his congressional seat and later became secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, a job he kept for eight months before leaving in 2014.
On Feb. 23, The Picard Group announced that Alexander had joined the company as senior director of federal affairs.